Speech by Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi during the opening of the newly built Emjindini Public Library and launch of Mzansi Libraries Online Pilot Project in Barberton, Mpumalanga
MEC for Culture, Sport and Recreation, Ms Norah Mahlangu Mabena;
Your Worship the Mayor of Umjindi Local Municipality, Cllr Lazarus Mashaba;
Members of the community;
Members of the media;
Ladies and gentlemen
This month our young democracy marks the beginning of its adulthood as it will be turning 21. Our government has since declared the month of April as Freedom Month, with 27 April subsequently celebrated as Freedom Day.
This year’s theme is “Celebrating the beginning of the Third Decade of our freedom through Accelerating Radical Economic Transformation”.
During the month of May, the Department of Arts & Culture will host Africa Month in partnership with other government departments; public entities; private and civic sectors.
Africa Month will be celebrated under the theme: “We are Africa”, - ‘Opening the doors of learning and culture from Cape to Cairo’.
This month-long programme will be characterised by various arts and culture activities including music concert, literature, film, fashion, cuisines and panel discussions.
The peoples of South Africa are equally thrilled by the announcement that one of own talented, stand-up comedian and TV personality Trevor Noah will replace Jon Stewart on the popular American TV programme - 'Daily Show'. This is an indication that our artistic maturity and status ranks amongst the best in the world.
Our visit to Barberton to officially open the newly built building of the Emjindini Public Library and the subsequent launch of the Mzansi Libraries Online Pilot Project epitomises a society envisaged in the National Development Plan wherein each community has:
· A school
· Teachers who love teaching and learning
· A local library filled with a wealth of knowledge
· A librarian
As the Department of Arts and Culture, we are committed to the preservation, development and promotion of South African literature in all its forms and genres.
These initiatives are augmented by the presence of library infrastructure in the various communities.
It is against this backdrop that the Department of Arts and Culture decided to invest R3 billion on the library infrastructure across the country through the Community Library Conditional Grant.
We will build libraries in communities that have limited access or do not have access at all to these facilities, and upgrade other existing structures.
The Emjindini Public Library was built as a result of the Community Library Conditional Grant allocation for Mpumalanga province.
The Department of Arts and Culture has established 69 new libraries and upgraded 323 existing libraries nationally. Out of the 69 new libraries built in the country, 13 are from Mpumalanga and out of the 323 upgraded libraries, 6 are from the Mpumalanga.
Libraries and a reading culture are of strategic importance to socio-economic growth and development. We must encourage ourselves and our children to read, because through reading we become literate and South Africa needs literate people since we are a developing country.
A culture of reading will contribute towards a life-long desire to learn and develop oneself intellectually, emotionally, and culturally. We therefore need vibrant community libraries, stocked with new, relevant books across all subjects, to assist people improve their skills and to prepare themselves better for their professions.
I urge librarians to establish activities like book clubs and debate clubs which will instil the culture of reading in this community and encourage the community to take ownership of different activities in this library.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with the National Library of SA run a pilot project in all 9 provinces to expand access to digital resources.
R32 million has been allocated towards this pilot project that will run for two years, with the possibility of expanding the project for another five years should the results from the pilot project prove to be successful.
The main aim of the Mzansi Libraries On-Line is to: provide free internet connectivity for all South Africans through public libraries, create an informed and information literate society, in support of the goals of the National Development Plan, contribute to the improvement of quality of life in South Africa by developing and sustaining the library and information service which will promote and inform an information-literate citizenry who can participate meaningfully in a democratic and knowledge-based society.
Siyabuswa, Secunda and Umjindini public libraries are libraries that will benefit from the Mzansi Libraries On-Line project in Mpumalanga. We are here today to launch the IT equipment (20 computers, 10 tablets, 1 scanner, 10 e-readers and game sets) estimated at R470 000 to the community of Barberton.
In conclusion, I encourage the community to look after this library and guard jealously against anything that might threaten to damage or vandalise it.
I thank you.