Speech delivered by Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi on occasion of Mafikizolo Reunited SA Tour 2015 – Mandela Day Youth Dialogues at Tshwane School of Music in Eersterust

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12 Mar 2015

Programme director

Your Worship the Executive Mayor of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, Cllr Sputla Ramokgopa;

CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Mr Sello Hatang;

CEO of Tshwane School of Music, Mr Freddy Arendse;

The Legendary Mafikizolo Band Members, Nhlanhla Nciza and Theo Kgosinkwe;

Our youth;

Members of the community;

Members of the media;

Ladies and gentlemen

It has been a sad week in the arts fraternity as we mourn the sudden passing on of two prolific young men, hip-hop artist Nkululeko Habedi, better known as “Flabba” and E-News Channel Africa senior camera operator Elelwani Piet Rampfumedzi, affectionately known as “Dot Comm”.

Let us observe a moment of silence!

We shall pick up the batons that they have handed to us and march on and be consoled by the words of Tata Nelson Mandela who said, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising everytime we fall”.

As a nation we have suffered blows and setbacks, we shall pull ourselves up, carry the legacy forward of our fallen heroes and rise to even greater heights.

Artists live a life of perpetual struggle. From the days of the liberation struggle to the post-apartheid era, artists are always in the coal face of social movements. Through their music, paintings, storytelling, they reflect the architecture of their society and thus inspire social change. They capture the painful rhythms, the aspirations, as well as the agonies and the ecstasies of their society.

Your Worship, allow me from the onset to commend Mafikizolo for embarking on this tour dubbed Mafikizolo Reunited SA Tour 2015, that seeks to promote patriotism, nation building and social cohesion amongst South Africans.

The Mandela Youth Dialogue could not have taken place anywhere other than at the Tshwane School of Music. I am told that this music school has produced some of the finest musicians. This clearly showcases the acknowledgement of the role that music play in building a better South Africa.

Our beloved Madiba once said “Artists reach areas far beyond the reach of politicians. Art, especially entertainment and music, is understood by everybody, and it lifts the spirits and the morale of those who hear it”.

The Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) invites organizations, companies, and individuals to apply for the 2015-2016 Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) open call for funding aimed at optimising the economic benefits of the arts in South Africa.

The Mzantsi Golden Economy (MGE) is a strategic investment approach which seeks to reposition the arts, culture and heritage sector as the key players in government’s programme of action towards creation of sustainable jobs, audience and skills development, social and economic development of the sector.

What is Social Cohesion?

Social Cohesion is a function of many elements, many of them difficult to define, hard to describe and even more difficult to create. To facilitate a national conversation on Social Cohesion, and to make it as inclusive as possible, government has identified 4 key pillars:

•      Diversity

•      Inclusiveness

•      Access

•      Values

For the Department of Arts and Culture social cohesion is about celebrating diversity in an inclusive manner, working with common values and make sure that everyone has access to basic services, healthcare, justice and housing. It is about making sure that South Africans relate better to one another, whether as friends, family, colleagues or even strangers.

So what then is the role of music in social cohesion?

Music as expression

History has shown us that in South Africa music has been the soundtrack of the struggle. When Johnny Clegg and Savuka sang Asimbonanga, they expressed the need that we all felt for the release of the late Dr Nelson Mandela from his long imprisonment and mourned the loss of Steve Biko, Victoria Mxenge and Neil Aggett, martyrs of the struggle.

When Brenda Fassie sang My Black President, we all knew that this was a dream that could be realised and we fought harder.

Music in this context expressed the thoughts of millions, gave voice to the hopes and fears of a nation and united people across the globe in the struggle against Apartheid.

Songs are poems set to music; words that combine music and lyrics and they live on to be played over and over by one generation, only to be rediscovered by the next. They are a critical part of heritage, intangible heritage, with value vested not in the recording itself, but rather in the story that it tells about the world the artist saw, experienced, hoped or dreamed of.

Music as communication

Music is so powerful because it is a tool of communication. Regardless of language, people can dance to its rhythms, and share the joy of a piece of music. Music is in and of itself a language; a composition of universally shared notes that can be played by all instruments and all musicians.

The diversity that can be achieved with those few notes and those few instruments is staggering; and the harmony and melody that is created when those notes, instruments and vocals combine is sheer magic.

For those of us who are not creators of music, as an audience we can share and appreciate music as an experience, a moment of shared understanding. This is social cohesion; creating an environment within which people from all walks of life can do something together; created a shared frame of reference, and so doing, have a better understanding of each other.

Music very often defines a generation, a shared reference point that people of a particular age reflect on. When a generation is young, the music they listen to will reflect the values, lives, experiences and aspiration of that generation. Future generations listening will be given an insight, a window into the world of their ancestors.

The Mafikizolo Reunited SA Tour 2015

A new generation of musicians has taken up the challenge of uniting the nation with a country-wide musical tour that will talk to young people and create shared experiences.

Mafikizolo has seen the power of music to unite, and recognising how important it is for young people to find their own voice and stand together.

This tour augurs well with what the Department of Arts and Culture is doing through Social Cohesion conversations across the country and also through the Flag in every school campaign which seeks to instil national identity and national pride in our learners.

The programme involves hoisting the National Flag in the school, the singing of the National Anthem, the recital of the Preamble of the Constitution, the distribution of hand held flags and publications on national symbols and the anthem.

Let me end by saying that social cohesion and nation building are 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.

Let this dialogue serve as a platform to deliberate and to promote that which brings us together as a people and as a nation.

I thank you.