Speech by Deputy Minister Ntombazana Botha at the launch of "Voices of Africa" held at Artscape

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17 Nov 2006

Thank you Programme Director
Honourable Guests
And everyone who is here with us today

It gives me great pleasure to address you at this important occasion. Today marks yet another progress in this “Age of Hope” where Arts and Culture through the medium of television is being used by our filmmakers to preserve our heritage.

The series “Voices of Africa” celebrates our rich culture and heritage, drawing from all the people of South Africa. Our culture has survived through hundreds of years from outside influence of our colonial powers and changes in the way of life. It is important that our cultural experiences and stories, especially, the positive practices of our culture and heritage, are told in our perspectives and preserved for generations to come, and what a better way to do this than through broadcast media.

It is a fact that in a developing country like ours, volumes of printed information have a limited value, given the low literacy levels. Broadcast media is therefore crucial given its wider reach. Moreover, not to imply that literature and other communication mediums are not popular, a large percentage of our younger generation watches a lot of television. It is in this context that we see the value of productions such as "Voices of Africa" which bring meaningful programmes on our television screens.

I have had the opportunity to watch excerpts from the series and am delighted that all eleven official languages are presented by the poets and that it covers provinces that are generally not favoured with exposure on television, i.e. Limpopo, North West, Northern Cape, Free State and Eastern Cape provinces.

The series further talks about challenges that we as a country are faced with, for example, HIV and AIDS, people living with disability, and education. These I believe affect people in different ways and productions like this one helps in examining these issues and how they affect people’s lives. This is important in creating awareness, opening discussions and finding solutions to problems.

As we have gathered here today to launch the Voices of Africa series, we acknowledge the important role that broadcast media play in informing and educating our people. I know for a fact that South Africans of all ages and background, will enjoy watching the 13 part series of "Voices of Africa", and that at the end of the series, they will be better informed about their diverse cultures. The series will bring entertainment, joy as well as information to many television viewers, in a manner that will contribute immensely to educating everyone in our country about our culture and heritage, and thus contributing to social cohesion.

I commend the producers for their foresight in producing this innovative series and for overcoming the challenges of finding the necessary funding to make the production a reality. I truly hope that this is just a beginning, because there are so many of our voices that must be heard and images of our heritage that must be captured.

Thank you.