Young artists wow the audience during the official start of Heritage Month at Freedom Park. Picture: James Mahlokwane
Young artists wow the audience during the official start of Heritage Month at Freedom Park. Picture: James Mahlokwane

WATCH: Nathi Mthetwa launches Heritage Month at Freedom Park

By James Mahlokwane Time of article published Sep 2, 2021

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Pretoria - Minister for Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa this morning called on all South Africans to pass on their cultural heritage to their children as he launched Heritage Month at Freedom Park.

Mthethwa addressed a crowd of culturally diverse people who gathered at the heritage site and welcomed this year's Heritage Month.

He encouraged people to remember the importance of not only preserving cultural heritage but passing it on successfully to the next generation so that senior citizens did not pass away and leave with their wealth of knowledge.

With young artists wowing the audience at the grounds Mthethwa brought on stage two living legends namely uMama Beauty Ngxongo as well as uBaba Mgwayo Enoch Mabiko to whom the department was grateful to for safeguarding heritage through the African craft they are passing on to the younger generation.

This was as added to the theme of bringing our living legends to the centre of the heritage narrative for 2021 to continue from where the department left off last year when it recognised three living legends which included the renowned Ndebele artist, gogo Esther Mahlangu.

"Today marks the 27th year since the dawn of democracy, coinciding with the 27 years spent behind bars by one of our legendary global figures, uTata Nelson Mandela. Also, this year marks an important milestone as we also celebrate the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the Constitution of the Republic into law by Nelson Mandela in Sharpeville in 1996.

"I make reference to the Constitution as it is where we receive the marching orders in terms of the need and obligation to celebrate the nation’s cultural diversity as given expression through language, art, folklore, literature as well as many other avenues of artistic and cultural expression.

"It is fitting that we are also gathered on these sacred grounds at Freedom Park to mark the official commencement of the 2021 Heritage Month. We celebrate our diverse heritage as a way to jealously safeguard our heritage treasures for posterity and also in bolstering our collective sense of self as one united nation in our diversity.

"Instead of employing our diverse heritage as an instrument to cause racial, gender, ethnic, religious, and linguistic fissures, as has been the case under colonialism and during apartheid, the Constitution of the Republic enjoins us all to employ the diversity of our heritage as a source of strength and unity," said Mthethwa.

He said to keep the oppressed masses, particularly Africans, perpetually divided and at odds with one another, the colonialism and apartheid machinery had to rectify their differences as though they were a scientific fact.

"In the month of September we call on all South Africans to pass on their cultural heritage to their children. It’s in our culture to promote conversations and illustrations of South Africans sharing with each other the pride of their culture in food, music, rites and created practices of indigenous knowledge systems," he added.

Mthethwa and Freedom Park chief executive Jane Mofamadi also encouraged the people to continue fighting against the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide as well as Covid-19 by doing what is right and leading by example.

One celebrated keeper of heritage uBaba Mabiko, a fine craftsman who can make almost anything with the trunk of a tree, said it was humbling to see the government recognise people like him.

"The elders who raised my generation and herbalists died with a lot of their knowledge and that is why today we do not know how to heal some of the illnesses our ancestors did not struggle with.

“For that reason, it makes me happy to see the government doing this important work to preserve heritage and see it passed on to the next generation," said Mabiko.

Pretoria News

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