Let us af­firm our un­sung lo­cal he­roes

The Sunday Independent - - DISPATCHES -

AS WE CEL­E­BRATE Her­itage Month and honour our stal­warts who left last­ing lega­cies, and af­firm sites of great his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance, we should adopt an in­clu­sive ap­proach which does not par­tic­u­larly favour in­di­vid­u­als of el­e­vated po­lit­i­cal stand­ing and their epoch-mak­ing events.

Our lead­ers should strive to iden­tify more lo­cal he­roes and hero­ines from all walks of life through­out our coun­try, and un­pack their nar­ra­tives and recog­nise their con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety.

They should adopt an in­clu­sive multi-lay­ered ap­proach to pro­mote so­cial co­he­sion.

To this end, I am re­minded of a tap-dancer of note, af­fec­tion­ately and sim­ply known as “Mad Joe” Latak­gomo from Thokoza in Ekurhu­leni.

He en­thralled trav­ellers with his tit­il­lat­ing and vibey dance moves at taxi ranks such as Fara­day in Jo­han­nes­burg and Ger­mis­ton, to eke out a liv­ing in the 70s and 80s.

Had the in­fir­mi­ties of old age not ru­ined his en­ergy to­day, he could be known as the fa­ther of the quin­tes­sen­tial South African tap­dance genre.

It would be re­miss of me to for­get to al­lude to the con­tri­bu­tion of the late An­dries Jiyane.

He was ar­guably one the most rev­o­lu­tion­ary and fearless stu­dent lead­ers of the 80s and one of the orig­i­nal co-founders of the East Rand Peo­ple’s Or­gan­i­sa­tion, who died mys­te­ri­ously dur­ing the state of emer­gency in the 80s.

The force of my ar­gu­ment is that in cel­e­brat­ing sig­nif­i­cant his­tor­i­cal mo­ments, there is a need to iden­tify more lo­cal he­roes and hero­ines whose con­tri­bu­tions to so­ci­ety are in dan­ger of dis­ap­pear­ing, and jus­tify why they should be judged wor­thy of be­ing re­mem­bered and pre­served.

With­out iden­ti­fy­ing more un­sung lo­cal icons from all spheres of life, our his­tory will be lit­tered with false­hood and self-serv­ing agen­das.

It is in­deed de­sir­able to en­sure that the coun­try does not priv­i­lege the rul­ing classes such as politi­cians and celebri­ties like mu­si­cians and ac­tors over the oth­ers, who also de­serve to be recog­nised as na­tional icons.

In ev­ery com­mu­nity it is now nec­es­sary to iden­tify those who made sig­nif­i­cant and positive con­tri­bu­tions in var­i­ous cat­e­gories such as sports, the per­form­ing arts, busi­ness, ed­u­ca­tion and lead­er­ship, pri­mar­ily at the grass­roots level.

This view calls for the need to cre­ate on­go­ing dia­logues be­tween dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions, po­lit­i­cal group­ings, so­cial part­ners, busi­ness and wor­ship­pers of var­i­ous re­li­gious per­sua­sions.

Do­ing so will en­able the coun­try to en­hance the much-needed process of en­sur­ing that the most de­serv­ing cit­i­zens are duly recog­nised for their con­tri­bu­tion in keep­ing with the val­ues in­trin­sic to our Con­sti­tu­tion.

There­fore, each lo­cal author­ity should en­gage com­mu­ni­ties in te­dious but worth­while dia­logues to en­hance the process of iden­ti­fy­ing the most val­ued lo­cal icons wor­thy of recog­ni­tion.

With­out th­ese mea­sures, his­tory would have us be­lieve that some lo­cal­i­ties do not have iconic res­i­dents who de­served to be re­warded for their sac­ri­fices and benev­o­lent deeds.

This is cru­cial be­cause real em­pow­er­ment and change in peo­ple’s lives oc­curs when their lived ex­pe­ri­ences and “daily trans­for­ma­tive acts” are har­nessed to cre­ate new mean­ings and re­al­i­ties cen­tral to elim­i­nat­ing ex­clu­sions and in­equal­i­ties.

The ini­tia­tive will serve a great pur­pose as it will un­earth un­told nar­ra­tives about the im­mense con­tri­bu­tions of for­got­ten he­roes and hero­ines from all walks of life who made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the coun­try’s as the coun­try con­trives en­rich its her­itage.

It is crit­i­cal to chron­i­cle the legacy of lo­cal icons in shap­ing our his­tory at the in­di­vid­ual and the so­ci­etal level.

We must in­tro­duce crit­i­cal dia­logues and take risks that would en­able us to cre­ate new mean­ings and re­al­i­ties out of di­verse lived ex­pe­ri­ences.

Mokoena (PhD) is di­rec­tor for re­search and pol­icy at the Gaut­eng De­part­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.