Heritage Month is celebrated annually from 1 to 30 September. It recognises aspects of South African culture which are both tangible and intangible: creative expression such as music and performances, our historical inheritance, language, the food we eat as well as the popular memory.
Heritage Day will be celebrated nationally on 24 September 2016 at Galeshewe Stadium in Kimberley, Northern Cape Province. This year Heritage Month is celebrated under the theme: "Human Treasures by Asserting our African Identity".
The aim of this year’s celebrations is to put at the forefront the Living Human Treasures, the custodians of the cultural heritage and indigenous knowledge for their immense contribution to the arts, culture and heritage landscape.
Various heritage sites and infrastructures in South Africa are named after the liberation struggle icons, like:
- The Sol Plaatjie Municipality in the Northern Cape
- The Nelson Mandela Museum in the Eastern Cape
- Luthuli House in Gauteng
- King Shaka International Airport in KwaZulu-Natal
- Tshwane Municipality in Gauteng
- Steve Biko Memorial in the Eastern Cape.
South Africa is also home to eight of the 981 World Heritage Sites which are recognised by the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation as places of outstanding cultural and historical importance.
These sites are:
- Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape in Limpopo
- Robben Island in the Western Cape
- Cradle of Humankind in Gauteng
- the Cape Floral Region in both the Western and Eastern Cape
- Vredefort Dome in the Free State
- uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park
- Isimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu- Natal
- Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape in the Northern Cape.
The sites offer a diversity and abundance of cultural and natural values that encapsulate the value systems of the country.
Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape
“The place of wisdom” as Mapungubwe is known is situated in the Limpopo province. The site lies on the open savannah of the Mapungubwe National Park, at the convergence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers. It touches the northern border of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
This is a site that was populated by a civilised kingdom over 900 years back. Settlements, artefacts and graves of these communities can be seen at the site. It also has a national park where various bird and animal species, including four of the Big 5, roam freely.
For more information contact Mapungubwe: 015 534 7923/24
Vredefort Dome was declared a heritage site in 2005. Some two billion years ago a meteorite 10 kilometres in diameter hit the earth about 100km southwest of Johannesburg, creating an enormous impact crater. This area, near the town of Vredefort in the Free State, is known as the Vredefort Dome.
For more information, contact Vredefort Dome: 018 299 5371
Cradle of Humankind
Known in South Africa as the Cradle of Humankind, the region of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and environs has one of the world's richest concentrations of hominid fossils, evidence of human evolution over the last 3.5 million years. It was declared a heritage site in 1999 and 2005. Found in the provinces of Gauteng and North West, the fossil sites cover an area of 47 000 hectares.
For more information contact Cradle of Humankind: 014 577 9000
In addition to these sites, the country has 17 national heritage sites and the country is taking steps to protect more of its heritage sites.
Government has set in motion the process of declaring another historic place in the history of South Africa, Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, a heritage site.
Speaking at the 50th commemoration of the Liliesleaf Farm raid by the apartheid police President Jacob Zuma said preserving the site would contribute to the on-going process of national healing and the building of a more cohesive society.
During the commemoration, President Zuma said it’s our joint responsibility to tell the story of the farm. “We all have a responsibility to ensure that the story of Liliesleaf and the Rivonia Trial is told in full for the benefit of current and future generations and that to ensure that the ideas born on this farm live forever”.
So join in and help preserve and spread awareness of our heritage resources. They are not just symbols of our past, but they are the foundation for our future as well.
Great progress has been instrumental in ensuring that our cultural institutions portray South Africa’s diverse history.
- Prior to 1994 our museums and monuments were accessible only to a few and reflected the experiences and political ideals of the minority.
- Since 1994 Government has ensured that many institutions like museums and monuments reflect the history and experiences of all our citizens.
- Our cultural institutions are today in line with our Constitution and our Bill of Rights that recognise and respect people's culture equally.
- We have named various Heritage sites and buildings after a number of our liberation struggle icons from South Africa and the continent. These include Sol Plaatjie, Nelson Mandela, Shaka Zulu, Steve Biko, Samora Machel, Kenneth Kaunda and many others.
- South Africa is also home to eight of the world's official heritage sites, as determined by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.
- Our national anthem represents various components of our past and it is owned by everyone.
Our heritage gives us a sense of identity and belonging.
- Heritage opens opportunities in jobs and skills providing platforms for performers, crafters and subsidiary industries.
- Our rich liberation heritage must be used to draw visitors to South Africa and will also serve to ensure that we protect our common heritage and advance a national heritage, which is inclusive of cultural diversity
- The Department of Arts and Culture has identified more than 28 heritage and related projects which it is attending to in this 2013/14 financial year.
- These projects will contribute towards social cohesion, nation building and reconciliation.
- We encourage all South Africans to talk openly about all the places that make us a unique and proud country.
Speeches and statements
- Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa: Heritage Day celebration
- Deputy Minister Buti Manamela celebrate Heritage Day in Khayelitsha with Ambassadors of Change
- Minister Faith Muthambi attends Heritage Day celebration in Malamulele, 24 Sept
- Minister Fikile Mbalula hosts 11th annual Indigenous Games Festival in Seshego, 24 to 28 Sept
- South Africans called to assert their African identity and promote their diverse culture for Heritage Day
- Arts and Culture hosts dialogue on Heritage Month in Kimberley, 23 Sept
- Arts and Culture on collection of media accreditation cards for National Heritage Day, 20 Sept
- Government calls on communities to celebrate our diverse heritage and our living legends
- COGTA celebrates our rich culture and heritage: My tradition, my pride
- Minister Nathi Mthethwa launches 2016 Heritage Month celebrations, 5 Sept
- COGTA kicks-off Heritage Month celebrations