South Africa has rich her­itage

Vuk'uzenzele - - From Tyhoeuutnhiofnocbuusildings -

Dur­iNG sePTem­Ber South Africans are re­minded to ex­plore their coun­try and ap­pre­ci­ate and con­serve the nat­u­ral and cul­tural her­itage that make the coun­try a fas­ci­nat­ing and pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tion.

ev­ery Septem­ber we cel­e­brate Her­itage Month and Tourism Month in South Africa, bring­ing to­gether gov­ern­ment, com­mu­nity mem­bers, cul­tural or­gan­i­sa­tions, the tourism in­dus­try and our es­teemed tra­di­tional lead­er­ship in show­cas­ing our rich and unique cul­tural her­itage, among other things.

Com­mem­o­rat­ing Black Con­scious­ness

A crit­i­cal high­light of our Her­itage Month this year will be the 40th an­niver­sary of the tragic death of Steve Bantu Biko at the hands of apartheid se­cu­rity of­fi­cers.

Biko was the leader and founder of the Black Con­scious­ness Move­ment which con­trib­uted im­mensely to in­flu­enc­ing black pride, self-reliance and the need for black peo­ple to be their own lib­er­a­tors. The con­cept of Black Con­scious­ness en­tails un­der­stand­ing and em­brac­ing black­ness in its own terms out­side of the so­cial de­scrip­tions im­posed on it by the dom­i­nant white and of­ten anti-black world.

Biko died on 12 Septem­ber 1977 in a po­lice cell from in­juries sus­tained dur­ing his im­pris­on­ment and tor­ture. His life and ac­tivism sym­bol­ises the his­tory of the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle in South Africa in re­sponse to op­pres­sive colo­nial­ism and apartheid. Gov­ern­ment will host the na­tional com­mem­o­ra­tion in Pretoria on 12 Septem­ber.

The com­mem­o­ra­tion of the death of Steve Biko co­in­cides with cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tions hon­our­ing Oliver Regi­nald Tambo, the icon of our strug­gle for lib­er­a­tion and free­dom. To­gether, th­ese two heroes should ig­nite public con­scious­ness of is­sues of de­coloni­sa­tion as well as de­bates on rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion across the coun­try.

We will use the Biko com­mem­o­ra­tion to raise public aware­ness and un­der­stand­ing of the black con­scious­ness phi­los­o­phy as a key strand of thought for so­ci­etal trans­for­ma­tion. We be­lieve that the ad­vent of democ­racy and free­dom has brought about pro­found changes in our so­ci­ety and lib­er­ated voices pre­vi­ously si­lenced for decades. South Africans are now able to tell sto­ries about their tri­als and tribu­la­tions dur­ing the dark days of apartheid.

Con­trib­ute to tourism in our coun­try

Septem­ber is also na­tional Tourism Month. Dur­ing this time, gov­ern­ment in­ten­si­fies its sup­port for tourism and, to­gether with the pri­vate sec­tor and com­mu­ni­ties, en­cour­ages all South Africans to tour their own coun­try. That is pre­cisely the pur­pose of our WE ALL DO TOURISM na­tional cam­paign which we launched in May this year dur­ing the Tourism IND­ABA 2017 in Dur­ban.

We will con­tinue to work with all so­cial part­ners across the tourism value chain as well as our cit­i­zens to in­spire them to play their part and con­trib­ute to tourism in our coun­try.

It is also dur­ing this time that we com­bine our ef­forts to pre­serve all that is valu­able and dis­tinct about our dif­fer­ent cul­tures, in­di­vid­ual prac­tices as well as his­tor­i­cal and nat­u­ral trea­sures. We also use this time to em­brace all our her­itage in­sti­tu­tions.

We will be em­bark­ing on many cam­paigns na­tion­ally and lo­cally to en­cour­age one another and our vis­i­tors to ex­plore our coun­try and its beau­ti­ful ecosys­tems, wildlife, moun­tains, cul­tural vil­lages, land­marks (stat­ues and mon­u­ments), indige­nous sites and var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties and prac­tices that make us unique and make our coun­try one of the world’s more pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tions.

Within our com­mu­ni­ties we have, unique cul­tural prac­tices, rit­u­als, rites of pas­sage, and other ac­tiv­i­ties that are presided over by cul­tural ac­tivists and by our es­teemed tra­di­tional lead­er­ship. Th­ese prac­tices and ac­tiv­i­ties are quite sig­nif­i­cant in en­sur­ing that the so­cial and cul­tural fab­ric of our com­mu­ni­ties re­mains tightly wo­ven. They also serve as reser­voirs of knowl­edge and wis­dom that pro­mote pos­i­tive val­ues in com­mu­ni­ties.

In pro­mot­ing na­tion build­ing, it is im­por­tant for com­mu­nity mem­bers to visit our mod­ern in­sti­tu­tions such as mu­se­ums, gal­leries, li­braries, cul­tural vil­lages and her­itage sites and en­gage in ac­tiv­i­ties there for them to gain a deeper un­der­stand­ing of our his­tory and her­itage.

We will con­tinue our en­deav­ours to make th­ese var­i­ous in­sti­tu­tions ac­ces­si­ble to all South Africans. As the cus­to­di­ans of our cul­ture, com­mu­nity mem­bers must also en­sure that th­ese in­sti­tu­tions are safe­guarded for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions so that cul­tural teach­ings can re­main pre­served.

Share knowl­edge and wis­dom

As a coun­try, we have wit­nessed a wel­come in­crease in the num­ber of cul­tural vil­lages where indige­nous groups por­tray their daily way of life, al­low­ing vis­i­tors to learn about their culi­nary tra­di­tions, dance, har­vest­ing, as well as indige­nous cloth­ing, arts and crafts and other cul­tural her­itage prac­tices.

The Tsonga Kraal Mu­seum, Lesedi Cul­tural Vil­lage, Pedi Cul­tural Vil­lage, Nde­bele Cul­tural Vil­lage, Ba­sotho Cul­tural Vil­lage, and Shangaan Cul­tural Vil­lage are ex­am­ples of such vil­lages.

They have at­tracted the at­ten­tion of cul­tural en­thu­si­asts at home and abroad which has con­trib­uted sig­nif­i­cantly to the devel­op­ment of a now thriv­ing cul­tural tourism in­dus­try. They also play an im­por­tant role in the eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment and devel­op­ment of skills in our peo­ple.

We should also ex­plore the im­por­tance of com­mu­nity di­a­logues where we cre­ate a plat­form for knowl­edge-hold­ers and le­gends to share their knowl­edge and wis­dom. Th­ese di­a­logues will go a long way to­wards pre­serv­ing, show­cas­ing and pro­mot­ing our vi­brant her­itage.

South Africa is also home to nine of the world's of­fi­cial United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­gan­i­sa­tion her­itage sites, namely: Robben Is­land; iSi­man­gal­iso Wet­land Park; the Cra­dle of Hu­mankind; Maloti-Drak­ens­berg Park; Ma­pun­gubwe Cul­tural Land­scape; the Cape Flo­ral Re­gion Pro­tected Ar­eas; Vre­de­fort Dome; Richtersveld Cul­tural and Botan­i­cal Land­scape, as well as the ‡Khomani Cul­tural Land­scape which was an­nounced in July.

We are also proud to pos­sess a unique her­itage aris­ing from the po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural strug­gles for a non-racial, non-sex­ist, demo­cratic and united South Africa in which all cit­i­zens live freely and equally.

In this Her­itage Month, we wish to en­cour­age and in­spire com­mu­ni­ties to proudly em­brace di­verse cul­tures, prac­tices and her­itage in­sti­tu­tions. It is our con­sti­tu­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity to sup­port cul­tural di­ver­sity and to pro­mote the devel­op­ment and ex­pres­sion of ex­cel­lence in all of this coun­try’s dif­fer­ent cul­tures.

We also en­cour­age all South Africans to tour their coun­try and know more about our cities and prov­inces. We must all DO TOURISM!

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