Former Minister Speeches
This theatre building in Soweto is long, long overdue. It is indeed unfortunate that many people in the performing arts are unaware of the existence of a rich theatre history and tradition in SOWETO. The absence a physical building, housing a theatre does not mean that there was no theatre among SOWETANS.
Amongst the changes that were being effected in celebrating 50 years of the Women’s March to Pretoria on the 9 August 2006 was the renaming of Strijdom Square to Lilian Ngoyi Square in honour of the stalwart Lilian Ngoyi who was a strong and steadfast leader. She played an important role in the struggle against apartheid and she was an activist for a democratic, non-racial and no-sexist South Africa. She led the Women’s Anti-Pass March to the Union Buildings on the 9th August 1956. Lillian Ngoyi dedicated her adult life to this dream of a democratic country and is worthy of being remembered in this manner.
This is a landmark conference and it is indeed an honour for me to address a gathering representing so many of the thinkers, movers and shakers in the field of culture. Hopefully this conference will place us in a better position to make our distinctive contribution to the international debate on the issue of cultural diversity and promoting democracy, not only in our own society, but globally.
Today’s occasion marks the beginning of the public phase of an important cultural and educational project. One of the most important outcomes of this project, we hope, shall be the engendering of a renewed pride in Black South Africa’s cultural, literary, musical and pedagogic heritage. The Department of Arts and Culture has been working with his Grace, Archbishop Ndungane and a small committee of dedicated individuals for the past year to bring it to stage. We have also involved the Departments of Education and of Science and Technology, both of which are integrally involved in the realisation of its objectives.
It is a great honour to address you on this Heritage Day. We are all gathered in Maropeng, at a World Heritage Site, the Cradle of Humankind. This site is unique for the extraordinary paleantoligical discoveries made here since 1947. We think they provide some of the answers to the riddle of the origins of humankind.
It’s a great honour for me to be standing before you this evening where we are marking a milestone and celebrating an important achievement: The Launch of the Timbuktu Manuscripts Exhibition at our National Library tonight is a milestone; and we are celebrating an African achievement.
I address you after your intense, successful workshops and interaction in which many African countries participated. We have reached the end of the second Africa Song and Dance Festival, with the theme, “Africa Unite in Cultural Diversity”.
Our theme for Heritage Month 2008 is “Celebrate our dance, Celebrate our heritage.”
Dance celebrates the grace of the human body, it celebrates the human body’s energy and its inexhaustible capacities for total body articulation through every kind of inherited or learned movement. Dance is one of the greatest gifts Africa and her people have offered the world.
We are here this morning to open the Pretoria Campus of the new National Library for business. Built at an estimated cost of R374-million, this new National Library building represents a significant investment in its future by our nation.
This building can accommodate as many as 1300 users at a time, a vast improvement from the rather cramped conditions from which the library was formerly forced to operate.
In welcoming you all to the South African Pavilion let me begin by recalling the words of a South African poet and musician: