Minister Paul Mashatile at International Forum on Cultural Heritage and Landscape, Florence; Italy

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20 Nov 2010

Programme Director

The President of the Tuscany Region, Enrico Rossi

The Mayor of the City of Florence, Mr. Mattero Renzi

The President of the Florence 2010 Conference, Giovanni Gentile

Dr. Davide Rampello, the Artistic Director of Florens2010 Conference

All the other authorities

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you for inviting us to speak at this important International Forum on Cultural Heritage and Landscape.

This Forum, which is aimed at deepening our understanding of the role arts, culture and heritage can play in advancing the development of societies, is taking place in the City of Florence, itself a place with an immense cultural and artistic heritage expressed in its numerous churches, palaces, art galleries, museums, villages and piazzas.

Clearly the organizers of this Forum could not have chosen a better and more appropriate place to hold this Forum.

Programme Director, we have been asked to address this Forum on the topic; "Culture for development in emerging countries".

In addressing this topic I would like to begin by indicating that; South Africa is a country that is not only emerging economically but is also a country that is emerging from a divided past charterised by inequality, injustice and racial prejudice.

Since 1994, the year of our freedom and democracy, we have continued to use culture as an important instrument to unite our people, to build social cohesion and to foster the spirit of reconciliation and nation building.

We are doing all of this guided by the teachings of one of the founding fathers of our democratic society, Nelson Mandela, who was given the honour of this City back in 1985, while he was still in prison during the height of our struggle for liberation.

Building national unity, social cohesion and promoting reconciliation is at the core of the work we do as the Department of Arts and Culture.

In this regard, one of the first things we did was to put legislation in place to position culture and heritage at the center of our reconstruction and development efforts.

Specifically we have put legislation in place to promote the widespread use of all our eleven official languages, paying particular attention to indigenous languages that have been historically marginalsied.

We have also put legislation and programmes in place to ensure the preservation of our pre-1994 heritage institutions, historic monuments and museums.

This we are doing to remind ourselves as a nation of where we come from and to learn from the mistakes of our past, so that we may not repeat them.

We use these institutions to spread the message especially to our young people that; as our icon Nelson Mandela said: "…Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land of ours will experience the oppression of one by another…."

We are also building new monuments and institutions whose purpose is to tell the stories, and raise awareness of that history of our country which was deliberately suppressed.

In addition we are honuring and preserving the proud heritage and legacy of our Living Human Treasures, those men and women who live among us in our communities, and are custodians of our heritage, values and customs.

Since 1994, we have introduced new national symbols, such as our national flag and the national anthem, all of whom are designed to reflect our new found common nationhood.

We are also using arts, culture and heritage programmes to promote the agenda of African unity, and the unity of Africans in the Diaspora.

In this regard:

We continue to be involved in reconstruction and development efforts in the DRC, in Burundi and in Sudan, emphasizing the role of arts and culture in Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development.

We have also made strides in implementing the first NEPAD cultural project, which is the preservation of the Timbuktu Manuscripts, in Mali.

Our Heritage Initiative, the National Liberation route, also seeks to identify connections between liberation movements in various African countries and document their involvement in our shared struggles for freedom.

We are doing all of these things as part of our ongoing commitment to contribute to the objective of building a Better Africa and a Better World.

Programme Director as we all know, the economies of the world, including the economies of the developing countries, are still battling the consequences of the global financial crisis, of the kind of proportion last experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930's.

South Africa as part of the developing world has not been spared from the harsh effects of the global financial crisis.

The global financial crisis has forced governments across the world to look for new and innovative ways of achieving economic growth and development.

Also faced with this reality, the South African government led by President Jacob Zuma, recently unveiled a strategy titled: a New Growth Path for achieving higher levels of economic growth and development.

In terms of this Strategy we have set ourselves a target of increasing the capacity of our economy to create more jobs over the next five years.

To do this we identified cultural industries as one of the drivers of economic growth and job creation.

In this regard, we have begun a process of mapping the cultural industries to determine their exact contribution to our economy.

Early indications are that the cultural industries are already making a significant contribution to our country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Our Department of Trade and Industry estimates that the craft sector alone contributes about R2-billion (about 200 million Euros) or 0.14% to South Africa's GDP annually.

In addition, the sector provides jobs and income for approximately 38 000 people through an estimated 7 000 small enterprises, mainly run by rural women.

We also estimate that; the Technical Services, which involve, stage lighting, sound engineering, stage construction are a R 7billion (350 million Euro) industry per anum.

Furthermore, we know that the hosting of major festivals such as the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Joy of Jazz in Johannesburg and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown contributes significantly towards the economies of the host cities.

Over the past four years, we have spent more than R300 million (30 000 Euros) to support various crafts projects, run by women across the country.

This has led to the creation of jobs and stimulated economic activity in many remote parts of our country.

Programme Director, our country, South Africa, is privileged to be home to no less than 8 World Heritage Sites.

These are the Mapungubwe, Robben Island, Vrede Fort Dome, Cradle of Humankind, Cape Floral Region, Richtersveld, Isimangaliso Wetlands and Ukhahlamba Drakensburg.

As part of enhancing the contribution of the arts, culture and heritage sector in the economy, we are putting in place programmes to use these sites to boost tourism in our country.

We are therefore finalizing our Heritage Tourism Strategy that we believe will increase the contribution of our heritage to tourism.

We will also use the Film Industry as another lever where arts, culture and heritage can contribute to economic growth and development.

We are encouraged that a number of South African films have received international acclaim. These include films such as Tsotsi, U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha and Skin.

Some of our Award wining films have been shown here in Italy.

This to us suggests that our local film industry can produce products that rank among the best in the world.
We will therefore continue to invest in film making and production as well as other related sectors such as fashion and design.

We are also engaged in initiatives aimed at promoting our local music on the international stage.

We are doing this, drawing lessons from our musical icon Miriam Makeba, who died in Italy in 2008, where she was performing in support of human rights.

Mama Makeba popularized South African music world-wide.

Her melodies including Phatha-Phatha and the click song found resonance with the peoples of the world including the people of Italy, who embraced her as one of their own.

Once more, we thank the organizers of this Forum for inviting us. Indeed we have leant a lot and will leave here with valuable insights on the role of culture in development.

We also thank the City of Florence for being our wonderful hosts over the past week and we look forward to a fruitful and continued collaboration.

Thank you.