13 September 2012
As the Ministry of Arts and Culture, we would like to express our gratitude for allocating this time for the debate on Heritage Day. Our department has declared 2012 as the year of Heritage in recognition of our celebration of 100 years of the oldest liberation movement in the African continent. This is a year when we join members and supporters of the ANC and I believe the vast majority if not all South Africans in marking a historic watershed in the shaping of what is today a free and democratic Republic of South Africa.
We have gone further to declare the theme of this heritage month as ‘’celebrating the Heroes and Heroines of our Liberation Struggle’’.
The choice of today the 12th September for this debate is very befitting .It was on this day 35 years ago that we woke up to the news that Stephen Bantu Biko had been murdered by the security police. Steve Biko was only 30 years old at the time of his murder but he was unquestionably already an influential figure in the re-emergence of popular resistance against the apartheid regime. Despite being banned and restricted to his hometown of Ginsberg in King Williams town, Biko had remained highly influential. As a first year Medical Student at the University of Natal Black section where Biko had been a student until about five years before his death, I can attest to the aura his influence on us even though he was restricted hundred kilometres from Durban.
As young recruits into the South African Student Organisation (SASO) which he had founded in 1968 we were eagerly looking forward to the day when we would be able to meet him. You can therefore imagine our shock and anger on receiving the news that this hero we were eager to meet had been murdered by the notorious regime. As details of how he was humiliated before his final demise emerged later at the inquest into his death, we were even more enraged, but we were guided by the leaders of the time to turn our anger into a positive commitment to continue his legacy by fighting for freedom.
Biko and his generation of young, mainly university student activists filled a vacuum left by the incarceration of leaders of the ANC, PAC, SACP and other allied organisations within the liberation movement in 1960. By moving out of the multiracial liberal National Union of South African Students(NUSAS) and declaring that ‘’Black man you are on your own’’ and advocating the psychological liberation from the racist subjugation of the regime they planted the seed of black pride and confidence that black people were the only guarantee of their own liberation .
In recognition of Biko’s contribution to our struggle for freedom we have partnered with the Steve Biko foundation to construct the Steve Biko Memorial Centre with DAC funding of more than R100 million , which we will be unveiling next month, October in Ginsberg.
It comprises a museum, archive and library resource centre, a commemorative garden, training rooms, conference centre, cultural performance and production spaces, a community media centre and retail spaces. We look forward to honourable members visiting this monument after its unveiling next month.
As we celebrate the heroes and heroines of our struggle we draw inspiration from their contributions, their commitments, their values and aspirations and we learn from their legacies. We learn from the lives and times of our warrior kings and generals and foot soldiers who led our people in battles in defence of their land, crops, livestock and their own dignity. Even when they were outgunned by superior firepower they never gave up. We admire the resistance of the Khoi and San in the South , the Xhosas under King Hintsa and others in the East , the Zulus under Kings Shaka , Dingaan , Cetwayo and others also from the east, Moshoeshoe in the west and Sekhukhune in the north to mention a few.
They fought hard to preserve their cultures, languages and customs which are today protected by our democratic constitution.
We celebrate the wisdom of the founding fathers and mothers of our early formal political and social movements. We celebrate the lives of Charlotte Maxeke, Ida Mtwana, Clements Kadalie, W. Champion, Abdulah Abduraman, J.T. Jabavu , Mahatma Gandhi and others.
We pay homage to the founders the oldest liberation movement in Africa, we salute J.L. Dube , Pixley Ka Isaka Seme , Sol Plaatjie, Sefako Makgatho and their peers.
We recognise the founders of the early Trade Unions such as the ICU. As we face the challenges of transforming our economy, addressing poverty, unemployment and inequality we are reminded of the mineworkers struggles of the 1920’s, the 1940’s and 1980’s.
We remember the critical roles of workers leaders such as J.B. Marks, Ray Alexander, Moses Kotane, Billy Nair, Vuyisile Mini, Curnick Ndlovu, Emma Mashinini, Rita Ndzanga and many others. We recognise their role in laying the foundation for the building of the progressive trade union movement we have today.
We celebrate the men and women who stood up against the increasingly brutal apartheid regime after 1948. We appreciate all the volunteers of Chief Albert Luthuli led by volunteer in Chief Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela who came forward to defy various unjust laws. We pay homage to the more than 20 000 women who refused to carry passes and marched to the Union Buildings with a clear message to Strydom ‘’ You have struck a woman, you have struck a rock.’’ “ Wa thinta bafazi wa thinta mbokodo.’’This is our history, this is our heritage. Can we rekindle the spirit of volunteerism as an antidote to the greed, selfishness and moral decay which are creeping into our society today.
Can we find inspiration as a nation from remembering the willingness of Nelson Mandela and his Rivonia Trialist to commit their lives to the struggle for equality, freedom and non-racialism and their preparedness to die for those ideals if need be. Today we are not being asked to die for any cause because others have done so for us. All that our country expects of us today is to have the commitment to serve with honour, humility, selflessness in contributing towards the creation of a truly non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous, carrying and proud nation.
Hon speaker /Chairperson it is within the context of understanding the importance of preserving and promoting our heritage that the DAC has identified more than 28 heritage and related projects which it is attending to in this financial year. These projects will go a long way in contributing to social cohesion, nation building and reconciliation. In his state of Nation address in February this year, President Zuma referred to many of this projects which are currently at various stages of completion. I have already spoken about the multimillion rand Steve Biko Memorial Centre in Ginsberg, King Williams’s Town which will be unveiled next month. Earlier this year as part of promoting nation building and reconciliation we declared the Voortrekker Monument in Tshwane as a National Heritage Site. Prior to this, on 16 December 2011 President Zuma had opened the road which now links the Voortrekker Monument with Freedom Park Monument.
Again in pursuit of reconciliation we have finalised the plans for the construction of a bridge between the Ncome monument and the Blood river monument in KZN. Early this year we launched J.L. Dub e legacy project in Inanda, KZN. The project comprises of an interpretive centre, the restoration of the Dube family house, upgrading the graves (which has been completed) and the mounting of an exhibition .Other projects such as upgrading of the graves of several other leaders of the liberation movement are in progress or have been completed. As you are aware honourable members the renaming of The Presidential Guest Houses in Durban and Tshwane after late ANC presidents J.L. Dube and S.M. Makgatho respectively have been done.
Work has begun on the OR Tambo memorial project in his birth place of Kantolo, Bizana, Eastern Cape which comprises his statue, garden of remembrance, interpretive centres, youth leadership school of innovation and upgrading of the OR Tambo family homestead.
The Matola Raid Memorial in Mozambique will be completed next month and will be ready for official launch by our President and President of Mozambique in January 2013.
Only last week we commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Bisho massacre of 1992.This site will form part of the liberation heritage route in honour of those who fell there in pursuit of freedom and democracy.
Hon speaker it is our hope that the various heritage sites and new monuments will go a long way in contributing towards the healing of the wounds of the past and the building of a united, non-racial, non-sexist South Africa. We also hope that these sites will contribute towards local economic development by becoming tourist attraction where both South Africans and foreigners will come to learn more about where we come from.
Hon Speaker, South Africa in partnership with UNESCO World Heritage Centre, will host an International Conference under the theme ‘’ living with world heritage in Africa’’ from 26-29 September this year in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.
The conference will bring together high level decision makers from African governments, heritage institutions, local communities and development sectors.
The African position on World Heritage and Sustainable Development will be presented later in the closing ceremony of the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention in Japan. A continental approach on this matter is necessitated by our unique reality where we have to balance heritage preservation with developmental needs.
Hon speaker, on 12 August i.e. last month we finally buried the remains of Klaas and Trooi Pienaar in Kuruman in an official funeral which was addressed by his excellency by President J.G. Zuma. This brought to a closure the ugly face of dehumanisation in which indigenous South Africans were treated as non-humans in life and in death. We thank the Austrian government, academics and civil society for their co-operation and support.
Lastly Hon speaker on 24 September, on Heritage Day we are going back to the Northern Cape Province for the official function which will be held in Upington. This will be, in a way the highlight of the work we have doing since the beginning of the year in celebrating the heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle.
We hope to see honourable members there.
I thank you.
Ke a Leboga
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