Address by the Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr Joe Phaahla, on the occasion of the launch of the first phase of the Enyokeni Cultural Precinct; Kwa-Nomgoma

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29 Apr 2014

Programme Director

His Majesty King Zwelithini

Members of the Royal family

Representatives of government

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Two days ago, on the 27th of April, as a nation we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of our freedom and democracy.

As we celebrated this historic milestone, we reflected on the road we have travelled since our liberation in 1994.

Part of our achievements since 1994 is the adoption of our country’s democratic Constitution.

Enshrined in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution, is the right of every South African to practice their culture freely.

As we are gathered here today to mark the beginning of the first phase of the Enyokeni Cultural Village Project, we do so as part of our overall commitment to ensuring that Umkhosi womhlanga (the Reed dance), which is part of the Zulu culture, not only continues to be practiced but that it is also elevated to a status befitting its importance and role in our society.

Our support for this project is informed by the reality that as South Africa we are a nation with diverse cultures.

We view this diversity, however, as a source of strength that contributes to the richness and depth of our cultural heritage.

This is reinforced by our approach in building the South African nation, an approach guided by the motto in our Coat of Arms; !ke e: Ixarra IIke; which means diverse people unite.

We know fully well that Umkhosi womhlanga occupies a special place in the hearts of the Zulu people.

It is part of their heritage. It part of who they are.

In particular, it is an educational experience and an opportunity for young maidens to learn how to behave; to learn respect for themselves and for others.

It instils a sense of pride, belonging and identity on the young people who participate in it.

It promotes respect for women. And it helps in building a brighter future for our country.

By supporting the building of the Enyokeni Cultural village, as the Department of Arts and Culture we are making a humble contribution towards preserving an important part of Zulu and African culture that has been practised for many generations.

Equally through this project, we are carrying forward our work as a Department to transform our country’s heritage landscape, in this case by building heritage infrastructure that truly reflects and affirms our cultural diversity as South Africans.

We are also using heritage to support job creation and economic development in this area.

Together with the work we are doing as part of the Ncome Museum project and the Bhambatha statue project, the project we are launching today will strengthen ongoing efforts to ensure that the history of all South Africans is told and is told correctly and in full.

Collectively these projects will ensure that we correct any distortions, particularly, in the history of the Zulu people.

They will also ensure that the correct and proper history of the Zulu people is incorporated into our country’s narrative, collective memory and heritage.

Through these projects we are honouring and paying tribute to some of the unsung heroes of the early wars of resistance that took place in our country.

By building monuments that form part of these projects we are saying to those who came before us; thank you for giving us the freedom that we today enjoy.

These monuments also signal our intentions as a nation that we will never forget the sacrifices made by those who came before us; that we will draw lesson and inspiration from their lives and we will defend the proud legacy they left for us.

Through the Enyokeni Cultural Village project, in particular, we are ensuring that the lessons of those who came before us are carried forward to current and future generations.

These are the lessons on how to build a society founded on moral values, a society that is strong, healthy, vibrant; a society that respects others and that is self-respecting.

We have no doubt that this project we are launching today will go a long way in allowing us as a nation to tap into our cultural values, practices and heritage to deal with some of the social challenges we face.

In this regard we note the enormous contribution made by Umkhosi womhlanga, held every year at this venue, in the fight against teenage pregnancy as well as HIV and AIDS.

We are also aware that many of the young people who have participated in Umkhosi womhlanga have grown up to be responsible and caring citizens of our country.

It is therefore our intention to preserve this and many other parts of the Zulu culture and to see more and more young people benefitting from it; hence our commitment to supporting the development of this cultural village.

We are supporting this project as part of our Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy; through which we are unleashing the power of the arts, culture and heritage to strengthen ongoing efforts to advance socio-economic transformation in our country.

In particular through MGE we are using the power of the arts, culture and heritage in our nation building efforts as well as in promoting social cohesion, reconciliation and the economic emancipation of the people of South Africa.

We pledge to work with all stakeholders to ensure the success of this project so that it can help us as we build a proud and caring nation, rooted on strong moral values.

I wish you all the success in this project. We support you fully.

Thank you.