National Monument to depict SA's heritage

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa says the department will soon meet with young people to discuss government’s plans to erect a national monument that will depict the country’s identity based on its rich history and heritage.

The Minister said this when he launched the Heritage Month programme at the Imbizo Centre in Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday.

He said the country, which comes from a difficult colonial and apartheid past, needs to rewrite its own story to include history and heritage that was omitted from history books. 

“On the 11th of September, as the Ministry we will be having a conversation with young people of our country who will be gathered at the National Heritage Monument in Gauteng in Groenkloof [Nature Plaza in Pretoria].

“And this is a place where we have started a process of having a South African National Monument. If you go to any country in the world, whether it is a developed or developing nation, there is a place where you go to which should be a sacred place for the people of that country,” he said.

The Minister said the Department of Arts and Culture was in talks with the City of Tshwane to find a site for the monument.  

“If you go to Senegal in Dakar for instance, you will be confronted with a 10-metre statue of the African Renaissance Monument.

“If you are in Algiers in Algeria, you will see this place where you go to and pay respect to the people of Algeria.

“In South Africa we are doing the same because we believe that a tale of South Africa still needs to be told in its fullest.

“That is why we are acknowledging that our freedom was not exclusively because of South Africans. Humanity across the globe contributed.

“We are engaging with the province of Gauteng continuously and Tshwane to have this space where we will have our story told,” he said.

In 2015, the Minister launched the National Heritage Monument Groenkloof to honour heroes who fought for the liberation of their people during pre-colonial and apartheid times.

The heritage monument saw the erection of statues of Chief Makhado, Charlotte Maxeke, Father Trevor Huddleston, King Hintsa, King Moshoeshoe, Yusuf Dadoo, Ray Alexander, Steve Biko, among others.

The Minister said the breakfast engagement that he will have with young people will help solicit their views on the identity that they want for their country.

Meanwhile, Minister Mthethwa said a number of events would take place to commemorate Heritage Month, which is held under the theme “The Year of Oliver Tambo: Celebrating our Liberation Heritage”.

This includes:

  • A book Fair on the 8th of September;
  • A gathering of African Leaders in Namibia on 14 September Namibia on the the African World Heritage Fund;
  • The official opening of a Cultural village of Sqakatha (Ntenga) on 18 September;
  • The memorial Lecture on Gert Sibande, The Lion of the East, on 21 September; and
  • The hosting of Ministers from SADC countries to discuss Resistance and Liberation Heritage Route between 19 and 21 September.

The Minister also said that on 20 and 21 September, he expects a report back summit on the Heritage landscape conversation which started after the #RhodesMustFall campaign. – SAnews.gov.za