Today is National Braai Day in South Africa. This is a celebration that was instituted to be in conjunction with SA National Heritage Day, beginning in 2005. According to this BBC article, Archbishop Desmond Tutu is now its patron:
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate celebrated his appointment by donning an apron and tucking into a sausage outside his office.
“This is something that can unite us. It is so proudly South African, so uniquely South African,” he said…
“We have 11 different official languages but only one word for the wonderful institution of braai: in Xhosa, English, Afrikaans, whatever,” he said.
“We’ve shown the world a few things. Let’s show them that ordinary activities like eating can unite people of different races, religions, sexes… short people, tall people, fat people, lean people,” he added.
For those not familiar with the term or concept of “braai,” let us consult Wikipedia:
The word braaivleis (pronounced “bry-flays”) is Afrikaans for “roasted meat”.
The word braai (pronounced “bry”, rhyming with the word “cry”) is Afrikaans for “barbecue” or “roast” and is a social custom in South Africa. It originated with the Afrikaner people, but since has been adopted by South Africans of many ethnic backgrounds. The word vleis is Afrikaans for “meat”, so in this word, the “s” is not a plural.
The word has been adopted by English-speaking South Africans and can be regarded as another word for barbecue, in that it serves as a verb when describing how food is cooked and a noun when describing the cooking equipment, such as a grill.
I first heard about braai from my South African friend, who I met while teaching in Japan. She frequently lamented the lack of good braai facilities there, so I’m sure she would be pleased to encourage all her friends to celebrate this holiday. Let’s all join her and the archbishop in celebrating South African heritage by going out and grilling some meat.