President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on storytellers, artists, filmmakers and other creative professionals to continue to tell the stories of the South African people and encouraged the creatives to play a more prominent role in nation-building.
In his weekly newsletter to the nation, and in commemorating South Africa’s upcoming Heritage Day this Sunday, Ramaphosa gave special mention to the “spectacular and ambitious epic” television series Shaka iLembe, admitting he was an avid viewer.
“This spectacular and ambitious epic based on the history of King Shaka and the formation of the Zulu kingdom has become one of the most successful South African productions. It has supported skills development, job creation and localisation during six years of production,” Ramaphosa said.
“Shaka iLembe forms part of a growing movement within the local creative industries to craft stories and histories about South Africa’s people from their perspective and through their eyes.
“We have come a long way from the state broadcasting of the apartheid era, when the rich and cultural heritage of South Africa and lived realities of the South African people were marginalised,” the president said.
“Today, our storytellers, artists, filmmakers and other creative professionals are telling the stories of the South African people. These stories are cultural endowments for the benefit of future generations, and are integral to the ongoing task of forging national unity, inculcating national pride and promoting respect for diversity.”
Ramaphosa encouraged South Africa’s creatives to push forward in making impactful productions, as there were so many stories to be told, both of the past and the present.
Ramaphosa highlighted that one part of South Africa’s story that has not been fully told was the peaceful transition to democracy.
“It is a complex story with many different perspectives and competing narratives,” he said.
He said that one of the “most remarkable” aspects of South African society today was the common commitment to maintain peace among ourselves and our neighbours, and to preventing tribalism and ethnic chauvinism from sowing discord between us.
“Even when acts of racism occur, these provocations are rejected by South Africans, who won’t let them be used to exacerbate tensions in communities,” he said.
As the country prepares to fly the South African flag high on Sunday for Heritage Day, Ramaphosa reminded citizens that as they revel in their cultural pride and celebrate their roots with art, dance, cuisine and music, “we must remember that the struggle for peace and reconciliation is a vital part of our heritage”.