Dr Ntsoakane Phatlane when sharing his thoughts on what heritage day meant to him, this is what he said, “Our heritage celebrates our achievements and contribute to redressing past inequalities. It educates, it deepens our understanding of society while at the same time it encourages us to emphasize with the experience of others”
Our heritage is a big, broad and a bright thing that belongs to all of us. We are serious about a united, socially cohesive society we have to recognize this. When we think of our heritage, we need to think of the whole experience of our wonderful country and not just of the experiences of our own particular groups. We must all learn to value what is valuable to all of us.
Heritage day induces a different kind of reflection to other South African public holidays: One which perhaps doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Even the Public Broadcaster is failing to expose South Africans to more programs that have content that promotes our rich and diverse heritage. Once our people understand the importance of heritage they will also understand its actual benefits.
The Democratic Alliance understands the potential role heritage can play in our democracy and the defining role it plays in shaping and influencing our identity, as individuals and as a country. It also understands the potential heritage has to play in more practical terms, as an opportunity to enrich and fulfil one’s day to day life.
As the Democratic Alliance we also understand that there are few things able to unite and inspire South Africans in the way our rich and diverse heritage does. Our rich and diverse heritage is able to make us forget an often hard reality in favour of a dream, to override obstacles in pursuit of potential, to encourage and inspire where hope exists in small amounts. Our heritage is an important part of almost every South African’s identity, a vital part of our national make up and a central pillar of our society.
I am also tempted to argue that, so deeply entrenched is South African’s great love for their rich and diverse heritage, that it’s influence is not limited to one belonging to a certain race but far reaches beyond that – to our schools and playgrounds, our parks and gardens, to our televisions screens, our computers and even our phones – an ever unfolding drama, in which we are all caught up.
Heritage resources provide living communities with a sense of continuity with previous generations. Similarly they are important to cultural identity as well as the conservation of the cultural diversity and creativity of humanity. The results of this are evident in the intangible heritage which includes those aspects of heritage, unlike places or objects are not lasting. These include customs, rituals, oral traditions, music and changing fashions.
Our greatest challenges today are education and integration. We need, and have a duty to maintain public interest in our heritage. The idea behind this is to find ways of protecting heritage resources. Furthermore our acknowledgement of the necessity for a sustainable approach to the protection of our heritage is an important step to take.
In conclusion, heritage resources provide evidence of the origins of South African society, they are valuable, finite and irreplaceable and they must be carefully managed to ensure their survival. I also firmly believe that history and proper knowledge of culture and historic events are very important. If we, as adults do not lead by example in this regard, we cannot convince our children about its importance and cannot cry wolf or blame somebody else if they start to suffer from cultural and historic amnesia.
Thank you thank you.