Premier celebrates Heritage Day in Victoria West

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Address by the Honourable Premier, Ms Sylvia Lucas, on the occasion of the 2014 Heritage Day, celebrations, Victoria West, 24 September 2014.

Programme Director
Honourable Mayor
Esteemed Guests
Members of the Community
Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for joining us on this important occasion to celebrate our National Heritage Day.

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, the 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 is also utilized to educate the younger ones (youth) of their heritage, culture and tradition and that all these needs to be respected.

This year Ladies and Gentlemen, we celebrate the month under a theme “Celebrating 20 Years of Democracy: Tell Your Story that Moves South Africa Forward”.

It is important to remind South Africans that we should embrace our diversity and that we all have a role to play in creating a united South African nation with common identity.

As we celebrate 20 Years of Freedom and democracy, this day provides an ideal platform for South Africans from all walks of life to share their experiences. By doing so South Africans will develop a deeper understanding of themselves and others so that we all can live, work and play together in harmony.

For centuries the country’s history was biased and served the apartheid regime's ideals. The advent of democracy has brought about profound changes and in the process liberated voices that have been silenced for centuries. Our heritage and legacy celebrations seek to bring this history to the people.

South Africans are now able to tell their stories about the trials and tribulations they experienced during the dark days of apartheid.

They can also speak out freely about the many heroes and heroines of the liberation movement and different watershed moments in our struggle history.

We are proud of ushering in a new non-racial and non-sexist democracy. South Africans can see the tangible benefits of the first twenty years of freedom, and moving forward, should embrace the agenda for radical economic transformation. This requires an active citizenry who know where they are coming from but also where they are going.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is through talking about our good and bad experiences, which will allow us to address the social divisions in our communities that still persist today. Our stories will create an understanding that while our respective journeys to freedom might have been different, we are united in our love for the country and share the passion to move the country forward. Through sharing our stories, we will realise that we all subscribe to the same basic set of values such as mutual respect, democracy, freedom, equality and justice.

Ladies and Gentlemen, our country comes a long way. We come from an era where your skin pigmentation determined the quality of your life. We come from an era where one’s skin pigmentation could determine the kind of company you could keep, where your pigmentation could determine the area you live in and even your destiny.

We salute our former President Nelson Mandela, who steadfastly proclaimed that “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another”.

Oliver Regional Tambo, one of the most outstanding leaders of the biggest liberation movement in the African continent namely the African National Congress, once said:

“It is our responsibility to break down the barriers of division and create a country where there will be neither whites nor blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity”

Ladies and Gentlemen, indeed 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 indeed a better place to live in.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

South Africa has made significant progress in transforming the apartheid state into a democratic one founded on the values of human dignity, non-racialism and non-sexism, the rule of law, and universal adult suffrage, as enshrined in the Constitution.

South Africa Twenty Year Review 1994–2014 states unequivocally that millions of our people have been lifted out of poverty. Millions now have access to water, healthcare, education, housing and many other basic needs which they did not have before 1994.

The economy enjoyed a real recovery in growth and investment post-1994, with far more robust and stable growth than in the previous 30 years.

Ladies and Gentlemen, when looking back over the past twenty 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 as defined in the Constitution.

The Preamble of the Constitution refers to a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law. The Bill of Rights reaffirms that everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected.

It refers to the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion. It includes the right of freedom of expression and of association.

We must continue to strengthen the freedoms and protections we enjoy under our Constitution.

Ladies and Gentlemen, although South Africa is a better place to live in now, we however do acknowledge that our efforts to build a cohesive society will remain just a dream until we defeat the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

More work remains to ensure that we create healthier lives for all South Africans and create an education system that meets our future needs.

Again, the Twenty Year Review states that crime and corruption continues to have a negative impact on investment, growth and employment, as well as the wellbeing of citizens. Collectively we must do more to remove the scourge of crime and corruption.

The National Development Plan (NDP) is our future roadmap and identifies what needs to be done to address outstanding challenges by 2030. All sectors of society should partner with government to implement the NDP so that all South Africans can benefit from our hard fought freedom.

To all of you who are gathered here, I am delighted that we can share the importance of this day together. In a society, which for many generations, was divided and separated, we need to use Heritage Day to meet and learn from one another the values that our ancestors bequeathed to us. Together we can preserve and conserve that wisdom for prosperity.

It is my personal hope that the legacy of our political and cultural icons will continue to inform and inspire us as South Africa tackles its challenges and continues its road to success, prosperity and a better life for all.

I would like to wish all South Africans a happy Heritage Day.

Lets’ all be proudly South African, let’s all be proudly African.

I Thank You!

Baie Dankie!


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