Address by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Sylvia Lucas, at the Heritage Day celebrations

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Programme Director, Speaker Gaobusiwe
Members of the Executive Council
Honourable Mayors and Councillors
Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional leaders, Kgosi Bareki
Kgosi Dioka of the Gamorana Village
Esteemed Guests
Members of the community
Ladies and Gentlemen

Today marks one of the most important days in our calendar as South Africans and it gives me great joy to join you this morning to commemorate our National Heritage day. We are very fortunate as South Africans that all citizens of our vast rainbow nation have a day dedicated to celebrate what makes them and their culture unique. The unifying factor being that each culture, race, and creed is different but each must understand the mutual need to have a celebration of their heritage and traditions. 

Today we connect with South Africans from all walks of life, wherever they may be gathered to mark this special day of tribute to our heritage as South Africans.

It is during a month such as this when we value the symbols and the historic landmarks which define the essence of who we are. Heritage month serves to remind us of the importance of our past as well as our present.

Programme Director, our National Heritage Day intends to unite all of us to embrace our diverse cultures. It also enables us to celebrate the common heritage we all share. This day must specifically be utilized to educate our younger generation about their heritage, culture and tradition and that all these needs to be respected. With no clear sense of where you come from; you will not be able to embark on a meaningful course in your life. 

The theme for heritage month this year is “Our indigenous knowledge, our heritage: Towards the identification of South Africa’s Living Heritage.” The Northern Cape is a Province rich in history, culture and heritage. Due to the fact that we value our history and tradition, the Sol Plaatjie University is the first university in the country that developed the curriculum and obtained approval to offer a Higher Certificate in Heritage Studies. The programme is intended to develop the young minds that will increase the Northern Cape's ability to tell its own story and to interpret its own archive. One of the students who will gain his certificate from this programme in December this year, Garshwill Mthini, stated so aptly in a recent interview that appreciating and preserving South Africa’s heritage is key to ensuring the prosperity of the country. He went further to state that, “Those who forget their past are destined to repeat its mistakes.”

This year as we celebrate 21Years of our Freedom and democracy, we should make use of this opportunity to share our experiences. In doing so we will develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and others so that we all can live, work and play together in harmony. 

Ons almal is bekend met ons land se geskiedenis en on weet ook dat vir baie jare het die Apartheids Regering net een groep se ideale bevorder. Met die oorgang na ‘n demokratiese stelsel was daar  veranderinge wat die regte van almal in ag neem en dit het ook die stemme van dies bevry wat vir eeue lank stil moes wees. Deur ons Erfenisdag vieringe probeer ons om hierdie geskiedenis met almal te deel.

Suid-Afrikaners is nou in ‘n posisie om hul stories te vertel oor die wel en wee wat hulle tydens die donker dae van Apartheid moes deurgaan. Hulle kan ook vrylik praat oor die talle helde en heldinne van die bevrydingsbeweging en verskillende waterskeiding oomblikke in ons strewe na vryheid. 

This year, as part of the Heritage Day celebrations, the Northern Cape Provincial Government prioritised the memorial lectures around the life and times of Tebogo Leon Tume and Phemelo Moses Ntelehang, who are both former Umkonto We Sizwe combatants. Last week we honoured the late Tebogo Leon Tume by renaming the Provincial Department of Public Works after him and laid his remains to rest in his birthplace of Kimberley. This Saturday will see the reburial of the mortal remains of the late Phemelo Moses Ntelehang in Batlharos.

By repatriating, exhuming and reburying the remains of our fallen Heroes and Heroines; this ANC - led Government wants to honour those who fought tirelessly for the freedom and democracy which we are enjoying today and for this reason we dare not fail them.

It is also a programme that we will continue to work on in order to ensure that we close another painful chapter in our country’s history of Apartheid and colonial subjugation, racism and oppression. We will continue to correct the historic injustices and restore the human dignity and citizenship of all our fallen heroes and heroines. We will continue to ensure that all fallen heroes and heroines receive a dignified burial and the wounds created by the then Apartheid regime are closed and healed.

Dames en Here, dit is net deur te praat oor ons goeie en slegte ervarings, wat ons sal help om die sosiale verdeeldheid in ons gemeenskappe wat vandag nog bestaan aan te spreek. Ons stories sal dit moontlik maak om te verstaan dat hoewel ons onderskeie reise na vryheid dalk anders gewees het, is ons verenig in ons liefde vir hierdie land en deel van die passie om hierdie land vorentoe te beweeg. Dit sal dit moontlik maak om te besef dat ons almal aan dieselfde basiese stel waardes soos wedersydse respek, demokrasie, vryheid, gelykheid en geregtigheid gebind word.

Daar is geen kwessie daaraan dat ons land 'n lang pad kom. Ons kom uit 'n era waar jou vel pigmentasie of kleur die kwaliteit van jou lewe bepaal het. Ons kom uit 'n era waar 'n mens se vel kleur bepaal het met wie jy mag vriende wees, waar jou vel kleur selfs bepaal het waar jy mag woon en selfs jou lot bepaal het. Hierdie is als die wrede waarheid van ons verlede en daarom moet ons met verantwoordelikheid hierdie vryheid van ons bewaar. 

An important aspect in the theme of this heritage month is living heritage. Living Heritage is the foundation of all communities and an essential source of identity and continuity. Aspects of living heritage include: cultural tradition, oral history, performance, ritual, popular memory, skills and techniques, indigenous knowledge system and the holistic approach to nature, society and social relationships. 

Living heritage plays an important role in promoting cultural diversity, social cohesion, reconciliation, peace and economic development. In every community there are living human treasures that possess a high degree of knowledge, skills and history pertaining to different aspects of diverse living heritage. 

It is therefore important for South Africans to reclaim, restore and preserve these various aspects of living heritage to accelerate the use of living heritage to address challenges communities are facing today.

The MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture mentioned it during his debate earlier this week but I want to reiterate again that there is a tendency to exclusively associate indigenous traditional knowledge and practices to the African section of our population.  This has elicited a wrong perception that other population groups do not have their own customs and practices or challenges regarding the preservation and promotion of their tradition by future generations.  

As the ANC led government we strongly believe in the shared identity principle. We recognize that the diversity is what makes us as South Africans unique. Within that context we strive for the protection and promotion of all cultures, languages, traditions and histories.

There is no doubt that we have a good story to tell. Today we can proudly report that the ANC led government has allowed us to collectively participate in the building of a non-racial, democratic and free South Africa in which we all have the freedom to prosper. Our country continues to be a beacon of hope for many other countries in the African continent and the world. Our country is definitely a better place to live in. When we look back over the past twenty one years, all South Africans can be proud of the progress we have made as a young nation. 

We take pride in our world class constitution, a very important document governing this country. The document remains the foundation of our democracy seeking to tie us together as one; the very essence of what freedom means Is defined in the Constitution. 

It is my personal hope that the legacy of our political and cultural icons will continue to inform and inspire us as South Africa to tackle our challenges. We come from a past of terrible struggles but we have managed to reinvent ourselves as a new nation that could rise from the ashes of that bitter struggle and this must be celebrated. 

As I conclude I would like to mention that this week the Province played host to the China in South Africa week. During this time we were treated to a Chinese cultural showcase. It was inspiring to see that amidst China being worlds ahead in terms of development and innovation; with what pride they carried their tradition through song and dance. Heritage Day gives us as South Africans the chance to proudly display and revel in in our culture and tradition but also to celebrate our achievements as a nation and continue to look forward to a peaceful and prosperous future.

I would like to wish all South Africans a happy Heritage Day. Lets’ all be proudly South African, let’s all be proudly African.

Thank you


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