Ramaphosa tells South Africans xenophobia ‘inconsistent with our values’
Ramaphosa also used his Heritage Day address to highlight the exploitation of South African artists.
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image: GCIS
In his Heritage Day address on Saturday, President Cyril Ramaphosa urged South Africans to celebrate the diversity of cultures in the country and to be more hospitable towards foreigners.
Ramaphosa referred to the spirit of Ubuntu to while encouraging South Africans to show compassion to people, “especially those less fortunate, and also to those from foreign lands who have sought refuge here”.
“We are, as South Africans, a friendly and hospitable people and it is inconsistent with our values to be xenophobic,” the president said.
“I am proud that at many workplaces, schools and institutions, our brothers and sisters from other countries have joined the heritage celebrations.
“As Africans we are one people with a shared history and a common destiny.”
Ramaphosa’s comments come as organisations such as the Patriotic Alliance and Operation Dudula have been outspoken in recent months about their belief that illegal immigrants are the cause of many of South Africa’s problems.
Exploitation of artists
Ramaphosa also used Heritage Day to highlight the exploitation of South African artists.
“In the colonial era cultural symbols, artefacts, music, art and literature were brazenly stolen from Africa,” he said.
“In today’s modern age, this exploitation has taken new forms such as plagiarism, cultural and intellectual property appropriation and copyright theft.
“Struggling artists are taken advantage of and strong-armed into giving up their rights and their royalties.”
He said government is working to protect South Africa’s artists, which will in turn preserve the country’s heritage.
“Through their songs, dance, paintings, storytelling, sculptures and other form of art, artists carry on their shoulders the heavy responsibility to transmit our heritage from one generation to another,” he said.
“Artists must therefore be paid their dues.”
Ramaphosa said new Copyright Amendment Bill passed by National Assembly at the beginning of September will help protect artists, including with the collection and distribution of royalties.
“We are determined to use the law where necessary to preserve our cultural heritage.”
The president said South Africa’s greatest strength is its unity in diversity. “At a time when so many parts of the world are being torn apart by division, by ethnicity, language and religion, we can hold our heads high.”