25 September 2012
No culture in South Africa was pristine and no language was unaffected by the melting pot of the country’s history, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Heritage Day, calling on South Africans to unite in their diversity to build a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.
South African cultures influenced each other even at a time when racial domination was scarring the country’s landscape, Motlanthe said.
Addressing hundreds of South Africans gathered at the main national Heritage Day celebrations at the Danie Kuys stadium in Upington on Monday, Motlanthe said that, during the years of apartheid, cultural influences still managed to find outlets to decant into different social domains.
“No culture in South Africa is pristine and no language is unaffected by the multi-lingual experience that has been the melting pot that is South Africa,” Motlanthe said.
“The Afrikaans diction has been heavily influenced by indigenous languages, as the indigenous languages themselves reflect English and Afrikaans influence in many respects.
“Culture is a historical phenomenon whose development is determined by the succession of socio-economic formations.”
From the Tshivenda minwenda to Boere khakhi to the Indian sari to the Sesotho seshoeshoe and Xitsonga xibelani, South Africans proudly dressed in their colourful traditional clothes to show off their cultural uniqueness on a day when South Africa is united by diversity.
According to the Deputy President, Heritage Day seeks to acknowledge the injuries of the past and the history which diminished the use and status of indigenous languages and free cultural expression.
“Celebrating heritage is part of our efforts of healing the divisions of the past and establishing a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.
“Heritage Day reflects the values of a constitutional democracy where all South Africans’ cultural and linguistic rights are recognised and protected by the Constitution.”
Motlanthe said that if in the past the enemy was the oppressive system of apartheid, today the biggest enemy was the triple problem of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
“While it is the primary duty of government to address the triple problems, it is also true that government needs social partnership to achieve the results.
“All South Africans, black and white including business have to roll up their sleeves to uproot the conditions that engender and sustain poverty, inequality and unemployment.”
The Deputy President also emphasised the need to open the doors of learning and culture to all. “We need to build on the culture of teaching and learning to produce thought leaders and technical skills that our economy needs for growth, development and reconstruction,” he said.