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Burns Nicht

Last night we had a Burn's Supper at our flat. Each year, on or around the 25 January, Scots get together to celebrate the life of Robert Burns who is one of the greatest poets Scotland has ever produced. His famous works include Auld Lang Syne, Tam O'Shanter, and Scots Wha Hae.

We ate fake haggis with neeps an' tatties, drank whisky, listened to Scottish music (including the Braveheart soundtrack), read a poem by Robert Burns from my Scottish grandfather's Collection of Burns poems, and talked about Scotland and the English oppressors. There was a specifically stirring moment when we were listening to the Braveheart soundtrack and I did the Address to the Haggis. It's pretty much all said with a strong Scottish accent so I'm not sure how many people were able to pick up what was being said, but I still really enjoyed it.

The one guy at the dinner mentioned how when Americans are patriotic we look down on them and scoff, but when we are patriotic to a country many of us had never even been to it seems normal. I grew up listening to Scottish music, going to Highland Gatherings, reading Oor Wullie and The Broons (Scottish cartoons), and reciting parts of Scottish poems. I had a Scottish flag in my room, and a map of Scotland on my wall. I was kind of a nerd for Scotland growing up. And for some people that seems totally weird, but for me it somehow seems normal.

There is a definite sense that I am South African, but a lot of my identity is in Scotland. I hear the bagpipes and I get emotional, I think of the atrocities committed against the Scots and I get bleak. And all this for a country I have never set foot in. All I know is I'm proud of my heritage even if that makes me seem nerdy and weird.

What's important though is to find the balance between pride for your heritage and pride for the country you're in now. We just can't look back at Europe the whole time without being patriotic for South Africa.

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