Africans to showcase rich culture on Heritage Day

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pretoria - South Africans across the country will celebrate their rich and diverse culture on national Heritage Day, on Thursday.

September marks national Heritage Month and this year's theme is: "Celebrating South African Craft, Our Heritage."

During this month, the Department of Arts and Culture will pay tribute in particular to the crafters, many of whom are found in the rural areas, who have made a significant contribution to the development of the country's rich heritage.

Crafters have over the years produced a vibrant craft legacy by using natural resources and recycled products such as plastic bags, paper, card boxes and wires, among others, from their communities.

Although the crafts industry has gradually moved from being just a mere expression of an individual's skills to entrepreneurship, practitioners still lack protection from exploitation.

On Wednesday, Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana will host a gala dinner in Polokwane, where the department and the Old Mutual Foundation will sign a Memorandum of Understanding to support crafters.

The main event on Thursday, will be held in the rural village of Moroke in Tubatse, under the Greater Sekhukhune District, Limpopo.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe will join the people of Limpopo when they kick-start the day's activities with a cleansing ceremony at Tjate Heritage site in Sekhukhune.

The cleansing ceremony takes place every year as part of the festival, which commemorates the legacy of King Sekhukhune I, who resisted British colonialists in 1878 on the battlefield at Tjate in Ntsoaneng village.

The celebrations became an annual event in 2004, when the statue of King Sekhukhune I was unveiled in Ntsoaneng, where women and children used to seek refuge in times of war.

Since then, a ceremony is held annually where the Kgoshikgolo (supreme king) slaughters a goat and the elders come together to pay respects to the Sekhukhune ancestors.

The cleansing ceremony will be performed by both traditional leaders and healers.

Motlanthe will be accompanied by Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana, Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale and other senior government officials.

Later in the day, the Deputy President will deliver a keynote address at the Ntwampe sports grounds at the village.

In the North-West, Premier Maureen Modiselle will deliver a keynote address at the provincial Heritage Day celebrations at the Maruleng Stadium in the Moses Kotane Local Municipality.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the province is expected to host over 900 athletes from different parts of the country in the 5th annual national indigenous games, at the weekend.

Last week, Xingwana launched Heritage Month at the Mapungubwe National Park, Limpopo, which houses one of the country's historic world heritage sites.

South Africa possesses vast natural beauty and world heritage sites -namely, Mapungubwe, Robben Island, Vrede Fort Dome, Cradle of Human Kind, Cape Floral Region Protected Areas, Richtersveld, Isimangaliso Wetlands and Ukhahlamba, Drakensburg.

Heritage month provides opportunities for South Africans to foster social cohesion and instil a shared identity, promote unity and reconciliation through events planned for the month.