This year’s theme of Heritage Day is “The year of Charlotte Maxeke: Celebrating South Africa’s Intangible Cultural Heritage” and President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a keynote address celebrating the country’s identity.
The president started his address by saying Heritage Day celebrates who South Africans are and what makes us what we are.
Ramaphosa said every year on this day we pay tribute to those who keep our heritage alive.
“We acknowledge to living legends, uMama Beauty Ngxongo a renowned expert on Zulu basketry, and uBaba Mgwayo Enoch Mabiko, a celebrated craftsman.
“This Heritage Day we also celebrate uBaba Dr Peter Magubane, whose pioneering photography has told the history not only of apartheid but of our many indigenous cultures.”
“During Heritage Month we always promote the elevation of indigenous languages. I want to thank all who are part of this effort, including the publishing industry, which is making more writing available in indigenous languages,” he said.
Ramaphosa said they were happy about the publication of the first dictionary of Afrikaaps.
“This is a language synonymous with Cape Town and draws on the languages of the Khoi and San, Dutch, Portuguese, English, Arabic and South-East Asian languages.”
“We congratulate the team who were involved in this project. This important resource will not only contribute to our heritage and to the historical record. It is also a beacon of pride for the many residents of Cape Town who speak Afrikaaps.”
What is it that defines our identity?
Ramaphosa encouraged children to spend more time with their grandparents.
“We must become our own historians. Our elders and our cultural practitioners are like libraries, valuable libraries of our past,” he said.
He said children of today would eventually become cultural practitioners, authors, filmmakers, museum curators and tour guides, so they needed to pass on the baton.
Ramaphosa wanted us to reflect on our values, after the violence seen in July. He asked, “What defines our national character? What is it that defines our identity? What is it that we stand for?
“Because the values we live by, and the principles we stand for, define us as much as what we wear, the food we eat, the languages we speak, the music we listen to, and they also make up our way of life.”
Ramaphosa said South Africans were honourable people who did not engage in corrupt activities and were responsible.
“We are intolerant of any forms of racism, sexism, tribalism or xenophobia. We embrace nonracialism as our everyday ethos; we embrace this in our communities, in our workplaces and in our places of worship.”
“Thanks to our freedom we are able to see each other not as black or white, not as man or woman, not as city dweller or rural dweller, but just simply as South Africans.”
Other speakers included Western Cape premier Alan Winde and Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
Compiled by Sandisiwe Mbhele