No use mark­ing her­itage with­out land

Pretoria News - - OPINION -

SEPTEM­BER 24 is cel­e­brated each year as Her­itage Day. The cen­tral dis­course is our shared cul­ture, di­ver­sity and tra­di­tions in the con­text of a na­tion that be­longs to all. But can we cel­e­brate her­itage with­out land?

The burn­ing land ques­tion is not a land ques­tion. It is more about sym­bol­ism, his­tory and in­equal­ity than about land to live and farm on.

Land is our iden­tity, it en­ables us to be­long, to ex­press our cul­ture and pro­duce bread. Land is our her­itage, ev­ery­thing that is be­neath – the min­eral wealth, the seas, the an­i­mals, in­clud­ing the skies. Land is worth work­ing for, fight­ing for, and dy­ing for be­cause that is the only thing that lasts for our­selves and our de­scen­dants.

Only through col­lec­tive own­er­ship of land can we truly share a col­lec­tive iden­tity, self-worth and be­come a truly rec­on­ciled so­ci­ety. There is no her­itage with­out land. Un­til it is re­turned, our her­itage will con­tinue to be cheated into a braai day. The danger­ous il­lu­sion that our her­itage is to wear “tra­di­tional gear”, dance, sing and braai is ab­surd.

“Give back the land” has be­come a pop­u­lar mantra on so­cial me­dia, but few stop to ask what it would ac­tu­ally mean. Most, if not all, black South Africans feel jus­ti­fi­ably strongly about the in­jus­tice done to them by the de­scen­dants of white ar­rivals tak­ing most of the land, a sit­u­a­tion that hasn’t changed fun­da­men­tally.

But in 2017 the so­lu­tion can­not be as sim­plis­tic as hand­ing all the land to the gov­ern­ment to dish out to black cit­i­zens.

The very na­ture of land own­er­ship has changed fun­da­men­tally. Agri­cul­tural land has shifted to be­ing a busi­ness com­mod­ity – to cre­ate wealth, jobs and food se­cu­rity. But this doesn’t mean some land doesn’t still have his­tor­i­cal, sen­ti­men­tal value.

Tshepo Diale, Nkwe Es­tate

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.