Time to create a shared cultural heritage

This speech was delivered by Phule Thole, DA MPL in the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature. The debate was held in Joe Morolong in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district on Tuesday 22 September 2015.

HONOURABLE SPEAKER,

HONOURABLE MEMBERS,

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

“If you know your history, Then you would know where you coming from, Then you wouldn’t have to ask me, Who the ‘eck do I think I am”

Mmusa kgotla yo o tlotlegang!

A, ke mantswe a seopedi se setumeleng sa sa maloba sa mmino wa reggae Rre Bob Marley. Ka mafoko a, o ne a re bontsha gore fa motho a itse kwa a tswang teng o tlhaloganya kwa a lebileng gone.

Go botlhokwa thata gompieno gore re tlhaloganye ngwao boswa ya rona rele batho. Go matshwanedi thata gore re le ma-Afrika Borwa re amogele fare farologane mme re kopantshiwa ke ngawo e e nonofeleng ya naga ya rona.

SPEAKER

We recognize that this current regime has the task to champion nation building and social cohesion. These are two key pillars that will heighten relations on the human race. But how do we achieve this togetherness, and harness our collective energies and talents? We need to create A NEW CULTURAL HERITAGE and a new South African identity, that one identity that will unite us as South Africans. Cultural diversity is a defining characteristic of humanity. The challenge that has presented itself before us is the responsibility to create a shared cultural heritage that unites the human race.

In order to achieve this, it is important that we depress the narrative that only one party can drive the heritage agenda.  If we do not do this we will only destroy the gains made from the struggle for freedom. These gains include amongst others, togetherness and the notion of a rainbow nation that so beautifully epitomizes the spirit of South Africa, our unity in diversity.  We have the vehicle to facilitate cultural harmony and rectify the historical cultural neglect caused by the draconian policies of the apartheid regime.

The DA believes that we should protect and promote meaningful cultural, artistic and linguistic diversity as enshrined in our constitution, so that we recognize our diverse history. We must also focus on looking towards the future. As we say in the DA: we must honour our past, but own our future!

Mmusa kgotla yo o tlotlegang!

When we commemorate days such as Heritage day and others, our focus should be on bringing our different communities together and uniting them around a common heritage. Different political parties should share these platforms and talk nation building not political strategies and divisive rhetoric that does not heal the wounds we still have from our past.

Instead of only building a new, the old in our society should be restored and appreciated – society evolves, ever changing, becoming differently new.  National symbols can contribute to nation-building and the establishment of a common national identity. Our national anthem and our flag are powerful symbols that indicate South Africa’s transition to a more representative democracy and our collective commitment to building a society that truly has a place for all.

The DA supports the naming of geographical features as a form of symbolic compensation to address South Africa’s divided past. The names of places and streets in towns and cities should reflect the histories and heroes of all its residents.

We however condemn the defacing and sometimes violent means of destroying statues and other symbols of the past. Names and symbols should not become a terrain of revenge or defensiveness, but must acknowledge our discriminatory and unjust past, whilst genuinely seeking to develop inclusive spaces, where all feel welcome.

Diversity and the multiplicity of cultures, languages and histories in South Africa has become a defining characteristic of post-apartheid South Africa. This diversity must be promoted as part of our national identity and fiercely safeguarded as an essential ingredient of the Open Opportunity Society that has a place for ALL.

This is the South Africa we should be striving for; this is the South Africa we should be working towards; this is the South Africa we can build through a shared cultural heritage. But it starts right here in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District.

KE A LEBOGA, NDIYA BULELA, DANKIE, I THANK YOU!