Heritage Month Debate

Harold McGluwa, ID MPL

DA Provincial Chairperson, Northern Cape Provincial Legislature

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Deputy Speaker, Honourable Premier, Honourable Members of the LAIKIPIA, Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen;

As a diverse nation of people, we are a melting pot of languages, cultures, traditions, races and history. For such a diverse nation, September marks our annual Heritage Month, in which we recognise the different aspects of South African cultural heritage.

Given the insensitive past of Apartheid, which made us disrespect and view our cultures differently; democracy brought new hope, because it changed this perspective.

Today we celebrate our cultural expressions, our oral traditions, craftsmanship, social practices, rituals and our festive events. All these we celebrate in unique ways. Let’s be honest we are a nation united in our diversity.

Hon Speaker, the province is rich in cultural and heritage groupings which bring together different stories of the indigenous people, such as the Khoi and San, with migrants seeking opportunity, together in the most beautiful flora and fauna settings; indeed the envy of the world.

Het die Khoisan en inheemse volke iets om te bewys dat hulle n erfdeel van Suid Afrika besit? Erfenis beteken om iets te besit.

Perhaps the greatest disrespect is how they remain frustrated land claimants in various places across the country. They are made to live in abject poverty and squalor, in separate communities, such as Platfontein. In truth, we have failed them dismally.

We recognise the Provincial Government for the important gestures to bringing back the remains and commemorating the burial sites of indigenous people. As well as the renaming of towns, buildings and streets after these leaders, and various heroes; but does the exorbitant amounts spent on all these other things, justify the actual poor state such people live in today?

The Constitution, guarantees protections for all cultures and heritages, yet some cultural practices are contrary to the Bill of Rights.

Take for example reports of young men dying, at times horrific deaths, during circumcision rituals across the country. Although this is a cultural practice, their right to health care is often denied. Another example is found elsewhere in Africa where a woman risked public flogging at the hands of the Sudanese government because she wanted to exercise her human right to freedom of expression, and not wear a cultural headdress called a ‘hijabb’.

Speaker, nearly 20 years into our democracy, we are still trying to grapple with this issue. How do you reconcile a cultural practice which affects the rights of another segment of society? We need to find a balance between culture, religious practices and human rights.

Hon Speaker, we need to acknowledge the seriousness of this matter.  I would like the debate to be revisited and reintroduced at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Hon Speaker, it requires from us to do more than just pay lip-service to each other as a nation. We need to change the lives of all people for the better and to ensure that they enjoy the fruits of freedom, our heritage, and democracy.

That is the only way to ONE NATION, ONE FUTURE.

I thank you, ke a leboga