Heritage Month: Legends speak out

Friday, September 16, 2016
Heritage Month is a time for all South Africans to celebrate their culture

By Edwin Tshivhidzo

South Africa’s living legends in the fields of arts say there is a need to revive all the different cultures and traditions that exist in South Africa to preserve the country’s rich heritage.

This comes as the country celebrates Heritage Month throughout September.  SAnews sat down with some of the renowned legends who, in an interview, raise their concerns about what they feel is neglect of South Africa’s heritage in favour of western traditions. 

South Africa is regarded by many as a country with rich heritage which is found in different cultures and languages spoken in the country.

But according to renowned musicians Dorothy Masuku, Abigail Khubeka, Pitika ka Ntuli and photographer Peter Magubane, more needs to be done to protect South Africa’s heritage and its cultures.

The legends also feel that there is a need for South Africa’s cultures and traditions to be taught in schools to give young people an opportunity to know about their heritage.

“It is important to promote and be proud of our South African culture and identity. People should start respecting their cultures and pass that to their children,” Masuku says.

“It pains me when I see people not respecting their cultures and traditions,” she says.

Echoing the same sentiments, Khubeka says there is a need for all South Africans to come together and celebrate their cultures and be proud of them.

“Our youth must be taught our culture, traditions, music and they must know our different types of food for example,” she says.

For Ntuli, there is a need for more statues about black leaders to be erected.

“It is important for the young generation and the generations to come to understand where they coming from and understand their traditions. Where there is no tradition and culture, people don’t respect each other,” he says.

South Africans celebrate Heritage Day on 27 September by promoting their diverse cultures.

On this day, South Africans across the spectrum are encouraged to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people.

Magubane, a renowned photographer, says there is a need to document the country’s heritage, cultures and traditions through photographs.

“It is important to document our heritage sites, our cultures and traditions through pictures. This helps the younger generation to understand how people were living in the past,” he says.

As a news photographer, Magubane covered both the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 and the famous Rivonia trial in 1964. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was arrested, imprisoned and even banned from using cameras by the apartheid government.

Earlier this month, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said there is a need for South Africans to continue to embrace and celebrate their African identity in its entirety.

“We respect our elders and those who have travelled this path long before we have. We accept and acknowledge the intangible cultural heritage that forms the foundation of most communities and is an essential source of identity in our country,” he said.

The Cradle of Humankind at the caves of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans and Kromdraai in Gauteng, the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park and the ancient city of Mapungubwe in Limpopo are all examples of South Africans cultural heritage, Minister Mthethwa said.

This year marks 20 years since Heritage Day was proclaimed in 1996 and it will be commemorated under the theme: Celebrating our Human Treasures by Asserting our African Identity.

The aim of this year's celebrations is to put at the forefront the living human treasures and the living legends, the custodians of the indigenous knowledge for their immense contribution to the arts, culture and heritage landscape.

Throughout the month, government will be encouraging South Africans to take pride in their living heritage and play an active role in affirming, promoting and preserving it. – SAnews.gov.za

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