A month to cel­e­brate with pride

It’s a time that in­vokes mem­o­ries of our lib­er­a­tion stal­warts

The Sunday Independent - - NEWS -

EV­ERY Septem­ber, South Africans, and Africans in gen­eral, cel­e­brate and re­mem­ber their African civil­i­sa­tion, her­itage, lan­guages, rain-mak­ing cer­e­mony, indige­nous food, cul­tural mu­sic and po­etry as a way to re­con­nect and re­mem­ber their cul­tural he­roes and hero­ines.

The her­itage theme this year is his­toric and timely. For in­stance, it rekin­dles the spirit of OR Tambo’s cen­te­nary and marks the 40th year since the pass­ing of Steve Bantu Biko. It is also the year of Veron­ica Zon­deni Sobukwe’s 90th birth­day, Amil­car Cabral would have been 94 and Kwame Nkrumah 108.

This month links the young gen­er­a­tion of Africa from An­gola to Zim­babwe, in­clud­ing the African di­as­pora.

It’s a month which re­minds us to em­brace Africa’s cul­ture and her­itage, en­cour­age the read­ing and writ­ing about our his­tor­i­cal strug­gles, and re­mem­ber our African he­roes and their wise words of courage and in­tel­li­gence.

As a street cul­tural diplo­mat, we must re­mem­ber that this is a month in which peo­ple in the land of Haile Se­lassie, Ethiopia, cel­e­brate the new sea­son with hu­mil­ity and hu­man­ity.

In ac­cor­dance with the African cal­en­dar cy­cle in South Africa, African tra­di­tional spir­i­tual move­ments such as the Zion Chris­tian Church, Kara Her­itage In­sti­tute and the Rasta­far­ian community are com­mem­o­rat­ing Her­itage Month with cul­tural mu­sic, food and texts of African spir­i­tu­al­ity and her­itage.

As a cul­tural ac­tivist and hu­man rights de­fender in Africa, I’ve ob­served that dur­ing Her­itage Month in South Africa we tend to be ques­tioned and ridiculed about our cul­tural iden­tity and lan­guages in media.

As Biko once said: “One of the most dif­fi­cult things to do these days is to talk with au­thor­ity on any­thing to do with African cul­ture. Some­how, Africans are not ex­pected to have any deep un­der­stand­ing of their own cul­ture or even of them­selves. Other peo­ple have be­come au­thor­i­ties on all as­pects of the African life or, to be more ac­cu­rate, on Bantu life.”

As Amil­car Cabral, from Guinea-Bis­sau, said: “Na­tional cul­ture is com­plex in Africa. In fact, from vil­lages to towns, from one eth­nic group to an­other, from one age group to an­other, from the peas­ant to the work­man or to the indige­nous in­tel­lec­tual who is more or less as­sim­i­lated, and even from in­di­vid­ual to in­di­vid­ual within the same so­cial group, the quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive level of cul­ture varies sig­nif­i­cantly.”

The no­tion of ac­cul­tur­a­tion, as de­fined by Biko, clearly stated that the pe­riod of coloni­sa­tion and cul­tural cap­ture by the set­tler, colo­nial regime, the apartheid sys­tem in South Africa, was an at­tempt to fuse only for­eign cul­tures, to the ex­clu­sion of African indige­nous cul­tures.

There­fore, our African cul­tures were nei­ther pro­tected nor pro­moted. Rather con­quest and as­sim­i­la­tion were the or­der of the day.

In re­trac­ing our African lib­er­a­tion paths and routes, we must ap­pre­ci­ate the recog­ni­tion that the AU has ac­corded Tan­za­nia as the road to in­de­pen­dence and freedom for many African coun­tries, in­clud­ing South Africa.

Hence we re­quest that the Depart­ment of Arts, Cul­ture and Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion in­te­grates the lib­er­a­tion her­itage routes in the cur­ricu­lum and en­cour­ages the cul­tural ex­change visit pro­grammes from ru­ral prov­inces to ur­ban prov­inces.

It is our de­sire and vi­sion to see all the peo­ple of South Africa and Africa com­mem­o­rat­ing this Her­itage Month with pride, without fear, in­vig­o­rat­ing the spirit of so­cial co­he­sion and sol­i­dar­ity and re­mem­ber­ing the words of Tambo, that the fight for freedom must go on un­til it is won…

Un­til the African con­ti­nent is free, happy and peace­ful as part of the community of man, we can­not rest.

Man­tula is a so­cial co­he­sion ad­vo­cate for the reg­gae and Rasta­far­ian community in South Africa.

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