Speech by Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi, during the official opening of the Time Travel Conference at Freedom Park, Pretoria

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03 Mar 2015

Programme Director, Ms Louise Graham

Your Excellency, Sweden Ambassador to South Africa,

Mr Anders Hagelberg;

Mr Ahmed Kathrada, our Social Cohesion and Nation Building Advocate and Struggle Icon;

Acting CEO of Freedom Park, Ms Jane Mufamadi;

President, Bridging Ages International, Mr Ebbe Westergen;

Bridging Ages South Africa, Ms Gulshera Khan;

Distinguished Guests;

Members of the media;

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning.

The Republic of South Africa and the Kingdom of Sweden enjoys cordial diplomatic relations on Cultural Collaboration.

We meet at this juncture as South Africans from all walks of life both young and old are celebrating Human Rights Month.

Our democratic government declared March 21 Human Rights Day to commemorate and honour those who fought for our liberation and the rights that we enjoy today.

It is indeed a pleasure to be part of the 4th Bridging Ages South Africa National Conference whose theme of “Freedom and Solidarity” resonates and coincide with 60 years since the adoption of the Freedom Charter in 1955.

Your Excellency, Ambassador Hagelberg, this conference is important and more so because it continues to strengthen the diplomatic relations between South Africa and Sweden.

Continuing to foster Cultural Relations between South Africa and Sweden is an important pillar in the consolidation of the democratic gains made during the struggle years and upheld in the last 20 years and to forge ahead common developmental issues.

The Kingdom of Sweden played an important role in the fight against apartheid. International Solidarity and support is the key pillar of our Heritage Liberation Route.

It is important to keep those solidarity ties alive to face current challenges and to make use of current opportunities provided by a democratic government.

The importance of heritage, in Time Travel, is about history, about connecting the past with the present, at local, national and international levels. It is also about connecting people, ordinary people with important events in their communities.

Every community in South Africa has a story to tell, for example, how they were affected by apartheid and how they fought against it, but it is also the story of how diverse people in terms of race, culture and religion came together to fight the apartheid scourge. These are important stories to tell. These stories transcend time and space. 

Chairperson, let me commend Mr Ebbe Westergen, the Kalmar Museum and Bridging Ages for this wonderful idea and concept of Time Travel as it relates to social cohesion and nation building in South Africa. In 2009, President Zuma encouraged South Africans to engage in a National Dialogue on Unity and Social Cohesion.

We are gathered here to promote that which brings us together as a people and as a nation.

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.

Social cohesion as a core mandate of our Department speaks to the role of the Department of Arts and Culture in driving the directive by government in reducing and eliminating the disparities, inequalities, exclusions and conflicts which exist as a result of ethnicity, gender, nationality, class disability and other forms of discrimination.

The Time Travel concept will help us in the promotion of social cohesion and nation building. It places our museums, schools, youth, and the aged together to reshape our history. It confronts challenges of today brought by the apartheid and engages audiences in the kind of future they want.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am deeply pleased to know that since 2014, Department of Arts and Culture, its institutions such Freedom Park, Hector Peterson Museum, Voortrekker Monument, Constitutional Hill, Swedish Embassy, Kalmar Museum from Sweden, Bridging  Ages International and Bridging Ages South Africa, Orlando High School in Soweto, SBSM Secondary School in Kliptown, Liminus Secondary  School in Cornhill, Gauteng Province, Seiphemelo High School and Resolofetse High School both in North West Province have participated in a series of workshops on Time Travel dealing with issues of heritage, culture and history. I am also delighted to know that further workshops are being planned in other provinces. 

The involvement of youth and schools in these workshops are extremely important to ensure a tolerant and a caring society.  It helps the youth to design the society of the future they desire but it speaks their language in a more interactive and fun way while allowing them to learn about history and its role in our lives, for example our liberation struggle, the Constitution, the National Symbols, places and names of importance in our history and heritage and it also encourages the youth to play active roles in their heritage.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the involvement of museums in this programme as centres of learning, places museums not only as the custodians of relics of the past, but very much as part of our future and national dialogue.

Intergenerational Dialogue nature of the Time Travel workshop is important because it allows the youth to hear the storytelling and history from the older generation.

In this way the younger generation learns to understand the role played by the older generation and what the future holds while they too participate in that dialogue. The National Youth in Social-Cultural Dialogue Project is aimed at nurturing diverse cultural values shaped by unfair past experiences and identities that ensure a democratic state in unity through debates.

These Dialogues also encourage positive moral and social values based on intercultural communication and a means of engendering social cohesion among South African youth.

I encourage participants to continue this great work and to involve as many schools and youth as possible. It is also by working through our various institutions that we can grow our cultural footprint and strengthen cultural relations and diplomacy.

I thank you.