Speech by Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi at the opening of Prince Alfred’s Hamlet Library in Prince Alfred, Witzenberg Municipality, Western Cape

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14 Nov 2014

Programme director;

MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sport; Dr Nomafrench Mbombo;

Your Worship the Local Mayor of Witzenberg Municipality, Cllr Jacques Klazen;


Distinguished guests;

Members of the community;

Members of the media;

Ladies and gentlemen

Molweni. Goeie more.

Allow me to join the people of the world in paying tribute to world renowned author Dr Myles Munroe, who passed on sadly with his wife Ruth, early this week.

We will always be consoled by his words in his book called “The Burden of Freedom”, Dr Myles Munroe said, “The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but a life without purpose.”

He might be gone from this earth but his words lives.

Earlier this morning, I visited St Marks Primary School, to hoist our National Flag as part of the Department of Arts and Culture’s Flag in every School programme.

The Department committed to spend close to R34 million to put flags in all schools to inculcate the spirit of patriotism and the love for our country as well as to promote nation building, national identity and social cohesion.

This programme involves amongst others, hoisting of the National Flag, the correct etiquette of singing the National Anthem, the recital of the Preamble of the Constitution by the learners, distribution of the South African hand flags and publications on national symbols as well as the CD Tool Kit on how to sing the National Anthem.

We are gathered here today to witness the official opening of the Prince Alfred’s Hamlet Library.

The National Department of Arts and Culture allocated an amount of R5 million to the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport towards the building of the Prince Alfred’s Hamlet Library as part of the Community Library Conditional Grant.

The Department of Arts and Culture will transfer in total R126 million to the Western Cape Province for 2014/2015 financial year to build more libraries through the Community Library Conditional Grant. These funds are transferred quarterly to all the provinces.

To date all the provinces have received 3 of their 4 tranches for the year. It is indeed a good story to tell as we celebrate the 20 years of Freedom and Democracy.

The findings of the research conducted by the South African Book Development Council indicated that only 14% of South Africans are active book readers and a mere 5% of parents read to their children. It further indicated that 51% of households in South Africa did not have a single book in their home.

We all know by now that the reading and information needs of many South Africans are not met, since many citizens do not have access to library and information services, or only have to deal with sub-standard services.

Illiteracy is amongst the national challenges facing our nation and it is our sector’s duty to correct this situation as we instil a culture of reading and writing. A book has the power to take you to different places, in different eras; it can motivate one and grow one’s knowledge.

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.

Libraries play a pivotal role in giving communities access to reading material and are central in building a reading nation. As a country, we have inherited the legacy of thin distribution of library infrastructure, where libraries are located in the cities, thus depriving the vast majority of our population dwelling in rural areas.

It is against this backdrop that for the next three years, we will invest R3 billion on the library infrastructure across the country. 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. 

By building library infrastructure we are merely laying the foundation for a thriving reading culture. Buildings do not go to the people. People must come to the buildings.

I encourage the community to look after this library and guard jealously against anything that might damage or vandalise it.

Let me end by thanking the MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sport for extending an invitation to me to be part of this historic moment.

An African proverb says that:

“Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter”.

The stories of South Africa are many and diverse, and collectively they tell the story of our entire nation.

They empower us and inspire us. They teach us lessons about the past in order to better arm us for the future.

These stories reside in libraries. They are their homes and part of their homecoming.

Baie dankie. Siyabulela. Thank you. Ndo livhuwa.