Topic: “Arts, Culture and Heritage as strategic resources in the transformation of the South African society”. Firstly I would like to congratulate the National Heritage Council (NHC) as well as members of civil society, heritage institutions, heritage practitioners and other stakeholders, who participated so passionately in the process of crafting the draft Heritage Transformation Charter.
Let me state upfront that I accepted the invitation to speak at this Fundraising Gala Dinner because I believe that we, in South Africa, have once again come to a moment of truth – a moment in time when each one of us must stand up and be counted. Within the current international and national political climate each of us must contemplate our yesterday, our today, and find the right path towards our tomorrow.
It is indeed an honour and a privilege for me to launch the Internship Programme of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC). Yesterday I was interviewed on “Morning Live” and, as could have been expected, I was tongue-tied – probably overwhelmed by the thought that it is finally happening. I am very excited that we too, as the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and its associated institutions, are going to be making this huge contribution to the skills development programme driven by our government. This is a very significant investment in human capital and I would like to thank all the institutions that are participating in this programme for making it possible.
The story of SS Mendi is one of immense human courage and bravery. We mark the sinking of this ship because of the 616 South Africans, 607 of them African men of the 802nd South African Native Labour Corps en route to Le Havre in France, where they were to serve as menials, doing the dirty work which South African White soldiers would not perform!
Firstly, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to open the “Separate is not Equal” and sharing the platform with His Excellency United States Ambassador Eric Bost. Thank you for the story you have just shared with us. Almost a year ago I was at this Museum for the opening of the Towns and Trade Exhibition and the Learners Resource Centre. The exhibition and the Learner Resource Centre highlighted the important role of the museum in teaching about our history as part of our heritage and even going beyond the borders of our country.
I am, indeed, very happy that we are today celebrating the 2007 International Translation Day and I also wish to thank the organisers for inviting me to address this gathering.
Heritage is one of the primary sources of identity, imparting to communities a sense of belonging. That South Africa is culturally diverse is readily recognized. Less evident is the strengths our society can derive from that diversity.
It is, indeed, a privilege for me to be invited to open this conference. I am particularly happy that you did not ask me to do the keynote address as I am not an expert on the subject of toy libraries or, better still, active learning and leisure libraries. Let me, at the outset, congratulate Active Learning and Leisure Libraries – South Africa for the sterling work they have been doing since the establishment of the organisation in 1993. The role you have played and which you are still playing, as an organization as well as the role played by individual Toy Libraries that of ensuring that little children develop their full potential, is highly commendable.
We are here to mark the thirtieth anniversary of a number of repressive actions. One was an act of murder that of Steve Bantu Biko in police custody in September 1977. The second also took place thirty years ago, after the murder of Steve Biko became an international scandal, when the apartheid regime thumbed its nose at world opinion by banning 17 organizations and two newspapers, “The World” and the “Weekend World”.
It is, indeed, a privilege and an honour for me to address you this morning as we launch a book on the 19th and early 20th century African Intellectuals. This work on African intellectual history is yet another compelling demonstration that arts, culture and heritage is far more complex and nuanced than the way it is often perceived, that it is only about “song and dance”.