Land own­er­ship is about our her­itage, not just a braai day

The Star Late Edition - - LETTERS - Nkwe Es­tate, Pre­to­ria

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

The land ques­tion is ac­tu­ally not about land. It is more about sym­bol­ism, hist- ory and in­equal­ity. Land is our iden­tity. It en­ables us to be­long, to ex­press our cul­ture and to pro­duce bread.

The land is what con­nects us and it is worth fight­ing for be­cause it the only thing we can leave our de­scen­dants.

Un­til it is re­turned, our her­itage will con­tinue to be re­duced to a braai day. The il­lu­sion that our her­itage is to wear “tra­di­tional gear”, dance, sing and braai is ab­surd.

Most, if not all, black South Africans feel jus­ti­fi­ably strongly about the great in­jus­tice done to them and their an­ces­tors by the de­scen­dants of the white ar­rivals of cen­turies ago by tak­ing most of the land for them­selves, a sit­u­a­tion that hasn’t changed post apartheid rule. But the so­lu­tion can­not be as sim­plis­tic as hand­ing all the land to gov­ern­ment to dish out to black cit­i­zens.

The very na­ture of land own­er­ship, at least of agri­cul­tural land, has changed fun­da­men­tally over the decades. Agri­cul­tural land has shifted from be­ing about iden­tity to be­ing more of a busi­ness com­mod­ity, a means to cre­ate wealth, job and food se­cu­rity. So as we dis­cuss the land is­sue, we ought to come up with ideas of how we will best utilise it once it’s re­turned. That’s the her­itage worth leav­ing for our de­scen­dants. Tshepo Diale

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