South Africa marks Heritage Month
MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER OF ARTS AND CULTURE, MR. PAUL MASHATILE ON THE HERITAGE MONTH CELEBRATIONS
10 September 2012
South Africa marks the 2012 Heritage Month under the theme “Celebrating the Heroes and Heroines of the Liberation Struggle in South Africa”. The theme reminds and reconnects the nation with its rich and diverse collective liberation heritage. The aim of this year’s celebrations is to create awareness through educational programmes, dialogues, and other public activities on the importance of Liberation Heritage as a vehicle to foster social cohesion, nation building, economic development and inclusive citizenship. We will also dedicate the month to honour and express our gratitude to those who dedicated their lives to ensure that our country achieved freedom and democracy that all of us enjoy today.
The history of the liberation struggle in South Africa was a result of oppressive colonialism and apartheid systems of government. Colonialism and apartheid destroyed and disposed communities of their land, livestock etc. in order to render them dependent of working for the settlers for their livelihood. The resistance movements during the pre-colonial period were mainly led by unsung heroes and heroines such as kings, chiefs and the communities they led.
Following the establishment of the racist Union of South Africa in 1910, a shift from traditional approach of resistance to a modern political mobilisation emerged. These resistance movements together with other progressive political, labour, students and arts and culture movements collectively produced individuals who deserve to be regarded as heroes and heroines.
The 2012 Heritage Month Celebrations will be held by various sectors across the country to remind us of the rich and diverse collective liberation heritage. The main national Heritage Day celebrations will be held in Upington, Northern Cape Province.
Various Heritage sites and other geographic features of our country are named after the Liberation Struggle icons. Government, through the Department of Arts and Culture will continue to implement this important task to ensure that together we build a country that reflects our cultural and heritage diversity. The Liberation Heritage Route is a very important element in the implementation of this programme.
Early this year we announced that we would roll out an ambitious infrastructure-intensive heritage programme to honour our liberation struggle heroes and heroines:
• We launched the JL Dube Legacy Project in KZN. The project comprises of an interpretive centre, the restoration of the Dube family house, up-grading of the graves, development and mounting of an exhibition.
• Work has begun on the OR Tambo Project which comprises of a new statue, a site perimeter fencing and security, garden of remembrance, interpretative centre, youth leadership school of innovation and the upgrading of the OR Tambo Family homestead.
• A monument will be constructed on Inquza Hill to mark the Pondo Revolt in the Eastern Cape.
• The second phase of Ncome Museum comprising of a library, pottery and beadwork space, curio shop, tourist and staff accommodation facilities and exhibition space, will be unveiled in November 2012.
• The Steven Bantu Biko Memorial has been completed and will be unveiled in October 2012. It comprises of a museum, archive and library resource centre, a commemorative garden, training rooms, conference centre, cultural performance and production spaces, a community media centre and retail spaces.
• The Chief Bambatha kaMancinza sculpture will be unveiled in March 2013.
• The Matola Raid Memorial Project will be officially opened in February 2013
• We successfully repatriated the human remains of Klaas and Trooi Pienaar who were given an official burial in Kuruman in August 2012.
• South Africa, in partnership with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, will host an international conference under the theme “Living with World Heritage in Africa” on 26-29 September 2012. The conference will bring together high-level decision makers from African governments, heritage institutions, local communities and developments sectors. The African position on World Heritage and Sustainable Development will be presented later at the Closing Ceremony of the 40th Anniversary of the World Heritage Convention in Japan. A continental approach on this matter is necessitated by our unique (as compared to the rest of the world) reality regarding the balance between world heritage and developmental needs.
Liberation Heritage is about the preservation of the history of the monumental struggle against Imperialism, colonialism and other oppressive and repressive systems in our society. Government calls on all sectors to use our liberation heritage as a vehicle to foster social cohesion, nation building, economic development and inclusive citizenship. Our liberation heritage was forged in the theatre of struggle that shaped the new South Africa, and can be used to contribute to the revival of social and political consciousness across the country. We call upon all South Africans into action to promote a national identity that is self-conscious of its Liberation Heritage which will in turn serve to promote unity in diversity among all sectors of South African society.
There will be other activities prior to the Heritage Day celebrations event that will take place on 24 September 2012. These include cleaning of graves of heroes and heroines, courtesy visits to homes of some of the fallen heroes and heroines and workshops on matters relating to the arts, culture and heritage sector. Full details on the activities for the month are available on the departmental website. Let us work together to protect and promote our common liberation heritage for posterity. We owe it to the heroes and heroines of our liberation struggle and we dare not fail the next generation by allowing this rich heritage to disappear.