Living Heritage is the foundation of most communities in S.A. and an essential source of identity and continuity. Aspects of Living Heritage may include: Cultural tradition, Oral history, Performance, Ritual, Popular memory, Skills and techniques, Indigenous knowledge system and the holistic approach to nature, society and social relationships. In South Africa the term Intangible Cultural Heritage is used interchangeably with the term Living Heritage.
The UNESCO Convention identifies five domains in which Intangible Cultural Heritage is manifested: (a) oral traditions and expressions including language as a vehicle of the Intangible Cultural Heritage; (b) performing arts; (c) social practices, rituals and festive events; (d) knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; (e) traditional craftsmanship. Although the UNESCO Convention has set out the above mentioned domains, the list of the convention does not prescribe the categories of the ICH domains. Different communities may have different components of ICH not mentioned above.
Living heritage plays an important role in promoting cultural diversity, social cohesion, reconciliation, peace and economic development in South Africa. In every community there are Living Human Treasures who possess a high degree of knowledge, skills and history pertaining to different aspects of South African diverse living heritage. It is therefore important for South Africans to reclaim, restore and preserve various aspects of South Africa`s diverse living Heritage in order to accelerate the use of living heritage to address challenges communities are facing today.