Speech by Minister Paul Mashatile on occasion of the presentation of the Base line study on Khoi and San heritage route
MEC Williams and other MECs here present
Mr Cecil Le Fleur, Chairperson of the National Khoi and San Council
Representatives of the Khoi and San people
Officials from the Department of Arts and Culture
Ladies and Gentlemen:
We meet here today to take yet another important step in restoring the dignity of the Khoi and San people.
These are our fellow South Africans who suffered untold humiliation, both in life and in death, in the hands of those who viewed them as not worthy of humane and decent treatment.
We are taking a bold step to correct the historical injustices meted out against these communities.
We are further strengthening nation building, national healing and social cohesion.
On this important occasion we are once more making the point that; as South Africans we are one nation, one people; united in our diversity.
We are reaffirming that the South African nation is a product of many streams of culture and history; that our future is linked and that South Africa belong to all who live it.
Programme Director, the study that is to be presented today will help us integrate the Khoi and San heritage into the broader cultural heritage of our country.
It will help us transform the heritage landscape of our country.
It will also strengthen our efforts to ensure that the stories reflecting the Khoi and San heritage are part of country’s new and inclusive narrative, of where we come from and where we are headed.
The study will also help us preserve the Khoi and San heritage, their indigenous knowledge systems, their languages and their ways of life.
We will use the study to start a process that will culminate in the development of the National Khoi and San Heritage Route; where we identify sites, events and individuals that are of significance to the Khoi and San heritage.
I am told that the study is a comprehensive one; covering Khoi and San heritage sites in all our nine provinces.
I am also told that members of the Khoi and San communities were involved in the study; allowing them to tell their own stories in their own words.
While we are satisfied with the process of the study so far, we reiterate that the door is not closed for additions to the study.
This we are doing to ensure that the process to document, preserve and promote the Khoi and San heritage is as inclusive and as comprehensive as possible.
Programme Director, we expect the Khoi and San Heritage Route to contribute significantly to advancing the socio-economic development of the affected communities.
In particular, we expect communities along this route to be major beneficiaries of all the spin-offs that will accrue; especially employment and other economic opportunities.
We therefore pledge that in the implementation of the route we will continue to involve local communities.
Nothing will be done for local communities without their meaningful involvement.
We will also ensure better intergovernmental and departmental coordination in the implementation of the route.
In addition we will pay attention to improving working relations between government at all levels and the representatives of the Khoi and San people.
Programme Director, as part of promoting and preserving the heritage of the Khoi and San people, the Pan South African Languages Board has begun a process that will facilitate the officialization and development of all Khoi and San languages.
In our view the time to officialize these languages is long overdue! This process must therefore begin now!
To this end PANSALB will be embarking on a national consultative process to mobilize the country as a whole behind the goal of officializing all the Khoi and San languages.
We are doing all of this, once more, to return the dignity of the Khoi and San people; reiterating that they too are full citizens of a free South Africa.
Part of our work in this regard is the return, last year, of the remains of Klass and Trooi Pienaar from Austria.
As we know these South Africans have now been given a decent burial in the land of their birth.
Equally we are in the process of returning the mortal remains of David Stuurman, a leader of the Khoi people and one of the early freedom fighters who was taken away for imprisonment in Australia, 240 years ago.
In December this year we will begin with the construction of two museums as part of the Sarah Bartman Memorial in Hankie in the Eastern Cape. A total of R 165 million has been set aside for this project.
Going forward through the Khoi and San Heritage Route will continue to hounour the contribution of the Khoi and San people to the development of our society and indeed the development of humanity.
From now on, the heritage of the Khoi and San people will become part of the South African story.
Programme Director, as we implement these initiatives we do so not only to preserve our country’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, but also to respond to the call by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address last year when he said:
“It is important to remember that the Khoi and San people were the most brutalized by colonialists who tried to make them extinct, and undermined their language and identity. As a free and democratic South Africa today, we cannot ignore to correct this past.”
Fellow South Africans let us continue to use our diversity as a source of strength.
Let us remember that what unites us far outweighs that which divides us.
Inspired by the National Development Plan; Vision for 2030, let us say to one another;
“I cannot be without you, without you this South African community is an incomplete community, without one single person, without the region and the continent we are not the best that we can be.”
We look forward to the findings of the study as well as its recommendations.
I wish you successful deliberations
Ke ya leboga