Social Cohesion Ambassadors
Cultural workers present
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen:
In the Preamble of our Constitution, we declare that: South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.
Thereafter it continues to call for the healing the divisions of the past and establishing a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.
The global history is replete with many examples where the performing arts, particularly music, played an important role in the effort to creating socially cohesive societies. In this regard, South Africa is not an exception as the role of song in the anti-apartheid struggle is well documented.
The cultural boycott against South Africa as backlash against the colonial apartheid state is an apt illustration about the power of the arts as an important ingredient in conjuring human solidarity.
The 1963 special address of the United Nations General Assembly by the late singer Miriam Makeba (which brought the world’s attention to apartheid’s atrocities and gross human rights violations) underscored the role of the arts, particularly music, in the hewing of global human solidarity.
The Nigerian scholar and author define art in the following manner:
“Art is man's constant effort to create for himself a different order of reality from that which is given to him”. Chinua Achebe
Songs and performances give us hope; affirmed our belief in the future and finally performances give us direction on what is to be done.
Given the continuing salience of race and racism and the negative role that social media has played as an unmediated platform, in the spewing of racial bigotry, it was appropriate that the Department looked to music as a possible antidote to this racism scourge.
We meet at a time in our history where more than ever before we need to forge our togetherness and especially our ‘unity in diversity’.
Yet racism also continues to rear its ugly head as incidents persist and surface in the media.
We have recently encountered divisiveness and violence in certain parts of our country.
The question arises, why do some among us embark on these courses of action?
Why do they resort to vandalism in situations where they have other means of expressing their grievances and asserting their rights?
Under these circumstances it becomes more and more urgent for us to focus on nation building and social cohesion and encouraging and indeed urging people to stand together.
The government programme
In our efforts to achieve our goals of nation building and social cohesion, the government is informed by the following understanding, that:
· The government led by the ANC works to consolidate partnerships across society to strengthen social cohesion and ensure that our nation achieves the values of a caring society, inspired by the traits of human compassion which informed our struggle against colonialism and apartheid.
·The success of nation formation and social cohesion depends on changing material conditions of all South Africans for the better.
· We are informed by the precepts of the country's Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, which recognise that attached to individual freedom is individual responsibility; attached to collective freedom is collective responsibility.
· In promoting intellectual discourse, media freedom and diversity of views, the government encourages appreciation by the media fraternity and the intelligentsia as a whole of the role that they can play in promoting human solidarity and a caring society. The same applies to the arts including music, the oral and written word, crafts, theatre and film.
· Encouraging a positive role for the institution of the family and community, youth involvement in a variety of social endeavours, patriotism and civic responsibility, community activism, sporting and other social activities, we will seek to promote healthy lifestyles, moral integrity and role models informed by human compassion, generosity, incorruptibility and accountability.
·We will fight against all manifestations of racism, super-exploitation, patriarchy, ethnic chauvinism, religious and political intolerance, and abuse of women and children; discourage greed and the arrogant display of wealth; and campaign against the abuse of drugs and alcohol.
It is this understanding that we convey to our young people through our Passport of Patriotism. But we need to deepen this consciousness that we need to instil in our youth, our children.
As part of the nation-building, we also need to develop our African identity, the sense that we ought to have of being African in the world.
Vision 2030 remains our destination.
In the National Development Plan executive summary, we state:
“Our new story is open ended with temporary destinations, only for new paths to open up once more. It is a story of unfolding learning. Even when we flounder, we remain hopeful. In this story, we always arrive and depart. We have come some way. We know: What we do, and how we do it, is as important as what we want to achieve. What we are, is because of who we have been and what we want to become. We will continue to make it to make us, because we are happy with being who we are. Who are we? We are Africans. We are an African country. We are part of our multi-national region. We are an essential part of our continent. Being Africans, we are acutely aware of the wider world, deeply implicated in our past and present. That wider world carries some of our inheritance.”
Let us work together to move this South African story forward.