Upington to host Heritage Day

Monday, September 2, 2019

Upington has been announced as the host city for this year’s Heritage Day celebrations.

Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Monday said all roads will lead to the sunny Northern Cape city, come 24 September.

He said the city was chosen for its historical and heritage significance since this year has been declared: “The International Year of Indigenous Languages” by the United Nations.

Speaking at the launch of Heritage Month in Pretoria, Mthethwa said Siyanada District, where Upington is located, is home to a sizable number of the Khoi, San and Nama people, whose languages and dialects almost faced extinction. 

The theme for this year’s Heritage Month is: “Celebrating South Africa’s literary classics in the year of indigenous languages”.

Mthethwa said the State must take practical and positive measures to elevate the status and advance the use of historically diminished languages.    

“It is also to convey a message to these communities disadvantaged by successive colonial and apartheid administrations that in this new dispensation, they have a place and therefore their languages, culture and heritage matters.

“South Africa has a long and painful history of deep divisions owing to the legacy of colonialism and apartheid. One of the manifestations of apartheid racism was to discriminate against people, not only on grounds of race, but also on grounds such as language and culture. African languages in particular were precipitously degraded and denigrated,” Mthethwa said.

He said the national and provincial governments must use at least two official languages.  

Promoting African languages

For the past few years, Mthethwa’s department has worked in collaboration with the Centre for the Book on the reproduction of African classics.

“These African classics are from across all the languages that are official in our country. Reading, writing and critical thinking are fundamental to our functioning and well-being in today's society.

“The promotion of local content serves to tell the South African story, heighten self-understanding and deepen consciousness, forge a national culture, and assert South Africa’s pride of place in the world,” Mthethwa said.

Cognisant of the role of language in the ongoing nation building and social cohesion project, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture has always sought to maintain a close working relationship with writers, artists, musicians, intellectuals and many others in the creative stratosphere.

Heritage Day on 24 September recognises and celebrates the cultural wealth of the nation.

South Africans celebrate the day by remembering the heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa.

Since 2014, government has collaborated closely with institutions of higher learning in working towards the further development and preservation of African languages. – SAnews.gov.za