Statement by Minister Paul Mashatile at the media launch of the 21 icons project

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22 Jul 2013

Programme Director

The CEO of Mercedes Benz South Africa, Dr Martin Zimmermann

Representatives of our partners; the SABC and Deloitte’s

The editor of the Sunday Times, Ms Phylicia Oppelt

Members of the media

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Department of Arts and Culture is proud to be a partner in the 21 Icons Project.

To us this project is about preserving the legacy of the founding father of our democratic nation, Tata Nelson Mandela and many other icons who have made a major contribution to the advancement of the South African society.

These are South Africans from all walks of life who continue to put their collective shoulder to the wheel in making ours a winning nation; a nation we can all be proud of.

This project is also about identifying and developing future leaders who will take the baton of leadership from the icons we are celebrating through the 21 Icons Project.

It is about uniting the South African nation behind the ideal and the icons who have contributed immensely in shaping our democratic society.

It is a celebration of our greatness as a people. It is about the struggles we have overcome, the victories we have recorded and the work we continue to do to build a shared future.

The project therefore fits in very well with our ongoing work as the Department of Arts and Culture to promote social cohesion, nation building and national healing.

The icons we are celebrating through this project represent the values that define the kind of society we seek to build; a caring, more humane and proud society.

We are encouraged that some of the icons that took part in this project are our Social Cohesion Advocates.

These include Advocate George Bizos, Ahmed Kathrada and Sophia De Bruyn.

As we have said before we will continue to work with our Social Cohesion Advocates to implement the Plan of Action adopted at that historic Summit on Social Cohesion held in Kliptown last year.

Part of this Plan of Action involves the convening of community conversations across the country, to provide a platform for all South Africans to dialogue among themselves on the kind of society we seek to build.

It is envisaged that out of these conversation we will emerge with a shared vision that reaffirms that; we are one people, one nation, united in our diversity.

These conversations are also expected to define and elaborate on our shared values as a nation.

Next year, in 2014, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of freedom and democracy, we will once again convene a national summit on social cohesion, once more to assess the progress we are making to unite the South African nation.

The summit will also be an opportunity to engage in a national dialogue on what needs to be done to deepen the gains we have made thus far to build an inclusive society, so eloquently articulated in the Freedom Charter.

We are doing all of this fully aware that the task of building a nation is an ongoing one.

It takes more than one event. It requires concerted efforts by all of us to engage continuously with one another, to reach out to one another and together to work towards a future we can all be proud of.

On behalf of the Department of Arts and Culture, I take this opportunity to wish all those involved in the 21 Icons Project all the best.

We applaud the partnerships that have made this project possible.

Indeed it is such partnerships that we need going forward as we continue the task of nation building.

To all of you we say; you have our support. We have no doubt that you will reach the goals you have set for yourselves.

Thank you.