September marks the annual Heritage Month in South Africa.
Heritage Month 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.
This theme for 2013 - Reclaiming, Restoring and Celebrating our Living Heritage - is a call to recognise the importance of our tangible heritage; our museums, commemorative sites and interpretation centers, in building an inclusive society.
Various heritage sites and infrastructures in South Africa are named after the liberation struggle icons, e.g.:
- The Sol Plaatjie Municipality in the Northern Cape
- The Nelson Mandela Museum in the Eastern Cape
- Luthuli House in Gauteng
- Shaka Zulu 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 civilized 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.
- Heritage Day
- National Book Week, 2 to 7 September
- White Paper Policy Review Workshops, 4 to 5 September
- Official Languages Act Technical Workshop, 4 September
- Speeches and statements on Heritage Month
- South African Government News Agency
South African Government blog
- Building a true rainbow nation, 4 September 2013
- Relive, experience the history of South Africa, 11 September 2013
Messages on Heritage Month
We celebrate our victory over apartheid.
- As we approach 20 Years of Freedom, we must never forget how truly evil and reprehensible the apartheid system was.
- Apartheid had intended to strip away every ounce of dignity and humanity of black people but did not succeed.
- The role of ordinary South Africans in their struggle against apartheid must never be forgotten, let us be the generation who celebrates their legacy.
- Our freedom was not free: we must never lose sight of sacrifices of those who came before and we must jealously guard our freedom and democracy in South Africa.
- More importantly, undoing the damage of the evil apartheid system in a short space of time was never going to be easy and we know that more must be done.
South Africa has come a long way in addressing injustice, inequality and poverty.
- Our Constitution lays the basis for the construction of a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, united and prosperous society based on justice, equality, the rule of law and the inalienable human rights of all.
- We have risen from the ashes of apartheid to be a beacon of democracy and hope for millions of people across the world.
- South Africa is indeed a much better society than it was before 1994 when we inherited a country from the apartheid government that was both morally and financially bankrupt.
- The injustices of the past where people were judged according to their race, creed and sexual orientation have been firmly cast off.
- Our national symbols, our flag and our anthem are synonymous with the shared values and the unity of our nation.
- A national identity has emerged built on a respect for each other and our love for the country that we all call home.
Heritage Day recognises the diverse cultures and history of our people.
- On this day South Africans come together to celebrate the rich cultural heritage and diversity that has the power to help build our nation.
- We also affirm our diverse cultures and in so doing shape our national character as a “rainbow nation” that is at peace with itself.
- Celebrating this day is part of our efforts to heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights. Let us use this day to move towards that vision of national unity and cultural harmony.
Everyone should be proud of their heritage.
- On this day, we should look back with pride as a nation at our peaceful transition from a racially divided past to a stable democracy which is one of our most important achievements in our history.
- This history forms part of our nation’s heritage as we continue to hold free and fair elections every four years as stipulated in the Constitution.
- We should as a nation, irrespective of our shortcomings or challenges, preserve these traditions and hand them down to the next generation.
- Our heritage is the springboard that will help brand South Africa as one of the greatest theatres of struggle, as well as to illustrate our victory over apartheid and our world-recognised model of reconciliation and nation-building.
- Government will continue to ensure that together we build a nation that encourages dialogue, fosters social cohesion and celebrates its heritage.
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.