Statement by Minister Lulu Xingwana at the launch of Heritage month, Freedom Park, Pretoria

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06 Sep 2010

Programme Director,
Honourable MEC Thusi from KwaZulu Natal,
Honourable MEC Mashamba from Limpopo,
Honorable MEC Shongwe from Mpumalanga,
Honorable MEC Williams from the Northern Cape,
Mr Mqingwana from Cricket South Africa,
Representatives of all sporting codes present today and a special welcome to all soccer legends present today,
Heads of Departments,
Members of the Media,
Council members and management of our heritage institutions,
Senior officials from the DAC and sister departments,
Ladies and gentlemen:

The Department of Arts and Culture and the Kwazulu-Natal provincial government will host the 2010 national Heritage Day celebrations. The event will take place in Durban on 24 September 2010.

The focus of the celebrations is: Celebrating 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup successes: our heritage.This is a call to South Africans to celebrate our collective achievements during the FIFA World Cup.

We will use the event to acknowledge and recognise the hard work and sacrifices of the various sectors of our society during the World Cup.

We say to the policemen and women, construction workers, those who cleaned the soccer fields after every match, those who lined the streets and welcomed our visitors, our health workers, those who prayed with us and those who played for us, all of you, you did South Africa proud!

The celebration of our 2010 FIFA World Cup successes as part of our heritage is necessary to keep the record of our success for current and future generations.  Long after this tournament is gone, South Africans will always bear the memory of 2010 as a source of inspiration, hope and strength when confronted with any form of hardship or adversity. 

The memory of 2010 should assist us in eradicating Afro-pessimism and provide a solid foundation for excellence and distinction in the execution of our tasks.

It should bolster confidence about our abilities and capabilities to make things happen in South Africa and in the rest of the continent. It should help current and future generations to unleash their potential.

We believe that it is important to sustain the positive memory and mobilise all the sectors of our society in the celebration of this distinctive period in the history of our country. It is also important that we continue with this momentum and commit ourselves as a nation and a people to intensify our efforts towards social cohesion. Together we can do more to make this country a better place.

Full details of the celebrations will be released in due course. Let us work together to sustain the spirit of ubuntu and patriotism that prevailed during the World Cup!

We will have a month-long programme that is scheduled as follows:

Heritage on the Highway: Soccer Travelling Exhibition at the Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg
The exhibition aims to share South Africa’s sporting heritage with the local communities in the form of a travelling exhibition. It will capture elements of the current soccer display in a portable form. It will be accompanied by soccer clinics and motivational talks by local soccer legends. As you can see, part of the exhibition I am talking about is here today.

10 September 2010: National Symbols exhibition at Benoni Museum, Ekurhuleni
This exhibition is aimed at sustaining the national symbols campaign. It includes a wall panel, national order models, banners, animal models and video footage on two big screens. We will also distribute a pocket booklet that provides information national symbols. The booklet contains illustrations which make it easy to read and gain more understanding on the national symbols.

Flag in Every School
As part of our strategy to popularise the national flag, the Department will continue to distribute flags at schools throughout the country. We will install flags at schools around the country. We will also look at the situation in light of the current strike situation before we visit a school.

16 September 2010 at Iziko Musuem, Cape Town
We will open the Social History Centre at the IZIKO Museums in Cape Town. This centre will contribute to a better understanding of our culture and heritage and

24 September 2010: Heritage Day, in Durban
The programme will include a two hour prayer meeting to give thanks for the successful event. We will have a street carnival, display of national symbols, a parade by all the national teams, artistic performances, and messages of support from different political parties represented in parliament and a key-note address by the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Jacob Zuma. We urge all South Africans to join us on the 24th of September to celebrate with us. After the official programme we will have a musical programme featuring South African artists.

27 September 2010 National Flag Handover Ceremony at University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town
The RSA Flag that was flown during the inauguration of President Mandela will be handed over to government. The flag was auctioned by Bonham’s. It was purchased by a patriotic South African who will hand it over to government during the event.

The month of September as you know is Heritage Month. This is the period when people across our country get an opportunity to celebrate our rich cultural heritage. This year heritage month celebrations will take place under the theme: Celebrating South Africa’s Living Human Treasures - the custodians of our Intangible Cultural Heritage. The theme will be used over a period of two years.

The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003) defines Intangible Cultural Heritage as “practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage”. We will therefore celebrate those individuals who are regarded as possessing knowledge, expressions, customs, traditions, skills, etc as mentioned in the UNESCO definition of Intangible Cultural Heritage. It is important to note the difference between intangible cultural heritage and tangible cultural heritage which refers to the “physical” part of our heritage such as museums, monuments and so on.

Intangible Cultural Heritage provides communities, groups and individuals with a sense of identity and continuity. It is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of globalization. It promotes intercultural dialogue and encourages mutual respect.

Of great concern to us as a department is that Intangible Cultural Heritage is under constant threat of disappearing due to urbanization, homogenisation, lack of documentation etc. South Africa’s indigenous knowledge was further eroded by the migrant labour laws that created single sex hostels where working adults were separated from the rest of their families. One of the biggest threats to the viability of ICH is posed by the declining numbers of practitioners. As recommended by UNESCO, an effective way to safeguard ICH sustainably is to ensure that the bearers of that heritage continue to transmit their knowledge and skills to younger generations. It is for these reasons that we want to focus on this area of our work to ensure that we save this important heritage of our people.

The theme presents a unique opportunity for us to celebrate and honour our living human treasures for the role they play in transmitting their knowledge and skills to others. To our living human treasures, we say Rutang bana ditaola, le se ye le tsona badimong! (loosely translated as “teach the youth your knowledge, do not die or go to your grave with it!). As government, we are committed to work together with our living human heritage treasures so that this knowledge is indeed imparted to our children.

Thank you.