Speech delivered Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi on the occasion of the unveiling of Valoyi Va Tsonga Nwa’mitwa Cultural Village and Museum at Nwa’mitwa
The role of the Traditional Leaders in the preservation of our diverse cultures cannot be emphasised more. It is said that a nation that does not preserve its culture is a lost nation.
Today we are here to unveil the Valoyi Va-Tsonga (Nwa’Mitwa) Cultural Village and Museum funded by the Department of Arts and Culture through its Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy (MGE) which seeks to unleash the economic potential of the Arts, Culture and Heritage sector towards job creation, nation building and social cohesion.
A cultural village is an area which is set aside to depict the lifestyles, activities and artefacts of a particular culture, for example Valoyi Va-Tsonga, usually in the format of a living museum (a type of museum which recreates historical settings to simulate past time periods, providing visitors with an experiential interpretation of history). This is a space designated, and controlled where a traditional culture would be on show for visitors to gain insight into how a particular (ethnic) cultural group lives or lived.
The R11 million Valoyi Va-Tsonga (Nwa’Mitwa) Cultural Village and Museum is aimed at promoting and preserving the cultural heritage of the Valoyi Va–Tsonga people. This project is also part of the transformation of the South African Heritage Landscape aimed at educating the present and future generation about their history and heritage.
It encompasses a museum to preserve and conserve heritage objects; a craft center and ten thatched rondavels that will serve as accommodation facilities as well as spaces for artistic performances, rituals and indigenous knowledge systems.
Although South Africa`s constitution promotes and recognises the right of communities to practise their culture, religion and languages, there is continuous loss and neglect of South Africa’s unique and rich cultural practices and beliefs. This is perpetuated by among other things the adoption of foreign traditions due to urbanization, globalization, and a lack of pride to a certain extent.
Story telling that was used to teach children about respect and responsibilities for example has been replaced by television that is dominated by Western movies, play stations and computers. The traditional practices of singing and dancing during traditional weddings have to a certain extent been replaced by music that is not South African.
Cultural villages also foster identities. They play positive roles in the development of sense of citizenship and belonging while at the same time contributing to healing and reconciliation in a society that has a regretful history. These villages are also used as platforms where heritage products are produced that connect their past with future.
The connection between heritage and tourism cannot be overlooked. Cultural tourism is central to tourism in our country and has influenced most heritage products. Critically, cultural villages must be community driven from inception such that there is community ownership of the outcome to enhance economic development.
A major concern at cultural villages is the idea of authenticity. Living historians define authenticity as perfect simulation between a living history activity and a piece of the past it is meant to re-create. At Valoyi Va-Tsonga Cultural village interpretation will be given in the first person in order to convey to visitors an authentic experience of what it felt like to live in the past.
The Nwa’Mitwa community should take ownership of the Cultural Village and Museum and guard jealously against any activity that might seek to vandalise or destroy it. Let us dispel the alien culture of burning public facilities in the name of protests.
We are calling for the respect of our traditions, customs and indigenous knowledge systems. Thus, it is important that we conscientise society to embrace and take pride of their cultural heritage embedded in our indigenous knowledge systems.
We encourage all members of our society to be good patriots and fly the flag of our country high. This is how great nations are built. Our Traditional Leaders should also join hands with us as we continue to instil the spirit of patriotism through the National Identity Project.
I thank you.