Human Rights Day South Africa 2021 | When, Why & How to Commemorate the Day


Human Rights Day in South Africa is one of the twelve public holidays celebrated by the locals. But it goes without saying, that this one is more than just a day off from work. It has deep attachments to South Africa’s dark past and represents hope for a better future for thousands of South Africans.

So let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what this public holiday means and how it’s celebrated by the locals.

When is Human Rights Day (South Africa)?

Human Rights day in South Africa is celebrated on the 21st of March. In 2021, Human Rights Day falls on a weekend. When this happens, the public holiday is celebrated on the Monday after the 21st of March.

This public holiday is completely different from International Human Rights Day, which is celebrated on the 10th of December.

What is Human Rights Day All About?

Human Rights Day serves to commemorate the sacrifices that were made by many South Africans during the fight for democracy and equal rights. It’s a time to reflect on the progress that’s been made over the past two decades in the preservation of human rights.

But why is it celebrated on March 21st? On March 21st, 1960, the communities that lived in both the Langa and Sharpeville townships decided to protect the racism and discrimination taking place during the apartheid regime.

They marched to protest the pass laws, which dictated that all people of colour in South Africa had to carry a pass with them when they were travelling through or working in white’s only areas.

During the protest in Sharpeville, 69 people were shot by policemen while they were trying to flee. There were others killed in other parts of the country, but Sharpeville was a hotspot for the unincited violence. The Sharpeville Massacre made it clear to the rest of the world that blatant infringements on human rights were taking place in South Africa.

March 21st commemorates the lives lost in the fight for justice and equality in South Africa.

How is Human Rights Day Celebrated in South Africa Today?

Human Rights Day is celebrated in so many different ways throughout the country. There are often displays of unique forms of art, concerts and entertainment to promote different cultures. The best way to celebrate this special day is to delve into the countries past and learn about the events that shaped its future.

Robben Island by Air

Robben Island is home to the prison that held former SA president, Nelson Mandela, captive for his fight against the apartheid regime. Seeing this stunning island by air is a wonderful experience. You’ll get aerial views of the prison, the tranquil azure waters that surround the island and the backdrop of the magnificent Table Mountain with its many beautiful trails.

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Robben Island Tickets, Penguins, and Cape Point Tour

If you’d like to explore Robben Island by foot and get inside the prison, and the actual cell where former president Nelson Mandela was held, then this is a better option. Included in the package is a penguin tour and Cape Point tour that will give you an opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful locations in the Mother City.

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Half-Day Township Tour

If you’d like to explore the townships of South Africa and witness the still devastating effects of the apartheid regime on so many South Africans, then a township tour is a great way to do that. Not only will you witness the poverty, but the vibrant culture so present in these areas.

You’ll also get the chance to taste local cuisines at one fo the many restaurants within the townships, providing you with the true taste of Africa.

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Bo Kaap Walking Tour

The Bo Kaap is a historical area in Cape Town. The people that lived in the area in the early 1900s painted their houses in a myriad of different colours. During the apartheid years, people of colour were forcibly removed from the area and relocated into areas like the Cape Flats.

The houses are still painted in beautiful colours, so its a great place to take photos. Near to the Bo Kaap you’ll find the District Six Museum, which is a great place to learn about the events that took place in the area during apartheid.

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What Are the Basic Human Rights in South Africa?

  • Equality – everyone is equal before the law and deserves equal protection and benefit of the law
  • Human dignity – everyone has inherent dignity and have their dignity protected and respected
  • Freedom of movement and residence – everyone has the right to freedom of movement and to reside anywhere in the country
  • Language and culture – everyone has the right to use the language and take part in the culture of their choice
  • Life – everyone has the right to life

Final Thoughts on South Africa’s Human Rights Day

Now that you know when, why and how you should be commemorating Human Rights Day in South Africa, you can go into March 21st fully prepared! In 2021 Human Rights Day falls on a weekend, making it a long weekend. Book a stay at one of these luxury villas for a staycation like no other.

Happy Human Rights Day!

With Love From:

A local

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