Speech delivered by Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi on the occasion of the Fourth Ungasali Storytelling Festival at Freedom Park, Pretoria

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04 Mar 2017

Programme director

CEO of the Freedom Park, Ms Jane Mufamadi;

Esteemed guests;

Renowned storytellers;

Academic;

Educators and learners

Members of the media

Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning

I am delighted to be part of this remarkable event of the Fourth Annual Ungasali Storytelling Festival hosted by the Freedom Park under the theme: “My Story, the Story of My Future”.

This year marks the centenary of one of the pioneers of our freedom and democracy Oliver Reginald Tambo; he would have turned 100 years this year, had he lived.

South Africa also commemorates 40 years since the brutal killing of Steve Biko who founded the Black Consciousness Movement and guided the student movement in protest against the apartheid system.

This festival happens as we commemorate Human Rights Month under the theme:  “The Year of OR Tambo: Unity In Action In Advancing Human Rights”.

Throughout the month all South Africans are encouraged to pay tribute to those who sacrificed in our struggle for freedom to ensure that we may enjoy human rights.

The OR Tambo Centenary is important as a fitting tribute to mark Oliver Reginald Tambo’s selfless and fervent effort towards bloodless transition and as an advocate for human rights.

Storytelling has been part of our daily lives since time immemorial. Our grandparents and great grandparents used to tell us stories in the evenings when we are sitting around the fire. It is such stories that shaped our communities and more so contributed in the preservation of our cultures.

Poetry and storytelling plays a significant role in creating consciousness on the culture and heritage of our country.

Government calls upon storytellers to rewrite our history by telling our own stories. The stories of South Africa are many and diverse, and collectively they tell the story of our entire nation. They also teach us lessons about the past to better arm us for the future. 

The supreme law of our country, the Constitution, also marks its 20th anniversary this year. This provides another platform for storytellers to educate our society about the Constitution through different forms of storytelling.

The involvement of youth in this festival is extremely important to ensure a tolerant and a caring society. Storytellers should rise to the occasion in the advancement of social cohesion and nation building through storytelling.

The concept of social cohesion and nation building is rooted in the experiences and history of South Africa; where we come from as a country, where we are going as a nation and the kind of society we need in the future.

Through storytelling we could increase consciousness about the social ills that are ravaging our society such as racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances.

No African child should suffer from any form of racism and discrimination and no child of Africa should be called a foreigner or lekwerekere on African soil.

Let me conclude with the words spoken by a prolific Nigerian woman author, Buchi Emecheta:

“I usually make sure that my stories are from Africa or my own background so as to highlight the cultural background at the same time as telling the story”

Allow me to commend the CEO of Freedom Park and the entire team for ensuring that the annual Ungasali Storytelling Festival continues to grow every year.

Let the festival of Storytelling begin.

I thank you.