South African Government

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Minister Nathi Mthethwa launches 2016 Heritage Month celebrations

5 Sep 2016

The Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa launched Heritage Month 2016 under the theme, “Celebrating Human Treasures by Asserting our African Identity” on Friday, 2 September 2016 at the Trevor Huddleston Memorial Centre in Sophiatown, Gauteng.

This year’s celebrations are aimed at highlighting the role played by the Living Human Treasures, our living legends, the custodians of the cultural heritage and indigenous knowledge for their immense contribution to the arts, culture and heritage sector. It was through the works of these icons that we were able to get international organisations, civil society movements and different nations across the globe to pledge solidarity and support the world-wide anti-apartheid movement.

It is significant to launch this month in Sophiatown, an area which played such a pivotal role in the political and cultural struggle of our people and was forging a non-racialism that in 1955 earned the wrath of the apartheid government and was mercilessly demolished and its people forcibly removed to far flung places.

“Indeed we therefore meet today at a centre, which is of great historical importance, as the Trevor Huddleston Centre commemorates the life of Rev Huddleston and tells the story of the remarkable life and important contribution that this priest and activist made to the political life of Sophiatown in particular and our country as a whole”, said Minister Mthethwa.

This much beloved town also called Sof’town or Kofifi was flattened to the ground and renamed Triomf by apartheid architects as if to celebrate their destruction. It would only be in 2006 that the place changed to the name and identity with which its former residents had known it.

It is in this place where some of the legends were made. Sophiatown as a whole is of great historical significance in our cultural and historical life. The South African jazz movement was vibrant through the Jazz Epistles, including Hugh Masekela, Kippie Moeketsi and Johnny Gertze, who played their music there and women artists, Miriam Makeka and Dolly Rathebe, who played to enthusiastic audiences. This is the area that produced some of the pioneering minds of “black journalism” in South Africa.

The likes of Henry Nxumalo, Es’kia Mphahlele and Nat Nakasa used to traverse these streets. It was also here that Can Themba opened his home, which he fondly called the House of Truth, as a place of great ideas, intellectual engagement and robust debate. We know about the history of Sophiatown because legendary writers such as Bloke Modisane, Don Mattera and Lewis Nkosi took a conscious decision to record their experiences.

“We need to continue to embrace and celebrate our African identity in its entirety. In the clothing that we dress, in the cuisine that we eat, in the hairstyles we adorn ourselves with, in the languages we speak in our daily lives, in our idiomatic expressions and in the content of our conversations, in our embrace of Ubuntu, in the plans and dreams we have for this country together, in the multilateralism that we hold dear in our global relations, we are African and we proudly assert our African identity,” emphasised Minister Mthethwa.

In this Heritage Month, we call all citizens to pay tribute to the power and strength of our living human treasures, the legends and salute them for providing us with a sense of belonging and pride in our living heritage. Our human treasures and legends are also men and women of great practical wisdom in our communities who have provided outstanding leadership and who use indigenous knowledge and technologies to make a difference in our people's lives.

Let’s get on our social media, #HeritageMonth2016 and participate. Tell us about someone in your community that you view as a human treasure and tell us why - My Human Treasure.  South Africans should celebration Heritage Fridays by 'living their heritage' such as wearing their traditional attire, hair styles, music, food, dance, learning  how to converse in languages other than their own and post or tweet to the # provided.


During this month, the Department of Arts and Culture will host the following activities:

1) National Book Week, 05 -11 September - Apartheid Museum,  Johannesburg & all provinces

2).   Living Legends Master Classes programme:

  • Madosini, 07 September: Indigenous Music contribution to the cultural, identity landscape, celebrating the art of indigenous wisdom, Lookout Hill, Khayelitsha, Cape Town.
  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Dorothy Masuku, Abigail Kubheka, 8 September: The heritage of South African Music in the world stage, Joburg Theatre
  • Nomhle Nkonyeni, Winston Ntshona, 15 September: Theatre and TV, celebrating the role of community and industrial theatre in the South Africa’s liberation, New Brighton, PE, Alice East London, Fort Hare (venue to be confirmed)
  • Des Lindberg, Dawn Lindberg, 16 September: Celebrating sustainable contribution to the Theatre standards in SA Lecture, Pretoria University, Masker Theatre.
  • Dr Peter Magubane, 22 September: Narrative through the lens Colloquium, celebrating photography in conveying SA’s story to the world, (VenueTBC).
  • James Mathews, Gladys Thomas, 23 September: Poetry Explosion, celebrating SA’s liberation through poetry, Delft Community Art Centre, Cape Town.
  • Sanza Loate, Johny Mokea, Barney Rachabane, Stompie Manana,  26-27 September: Voice, Brass Brand and Trumpet Clinic Masterclass, Gauteng Music Academy, Benoni
  • Welcome Msomi, 29-30 September: Decolonizing Shakespeare, Contestations and re-imaginings for a post-liberation South Africa, UKZN Drama Department.

3) CD Launch, Swibi Swa Ndhuma Music Development Academy, 03 September –Malamulele, Limpopo

4) Moretele Festival, 3 September –Moretele Park, Pretoria

5) Opening of Rocks & Roses play, 06 September – Soweto Theatre, JHB

6) Moshito Music Conference and Exhibition, 07 -10 September - ABC Auckland Park, Johannesburg

7) Fourth Royal Heritage Festival, 07-10 September, Royal Gardens, Nandoni Dam - Venda

8) Pondo Culture and Heritage Festival, 09 -10 September – Ntabankulu, EC

9) Joy of Jazz Festival, 15  17 September– Sandton, JHB

10) Unveiling of the tombstone of Chief Tyali, as part of the centenary commemorations of the University of Fort Hare, 16 September – Alice, EC

11) Minister’s Sectoral consultation on social cohesion & nation building 

  • Private sector, 26 September – Midrand, Gauteng
  • Media, Academia 7 Intelligentsia, 30 September – Sandton, JHB

Consultations and sectoral interventions on Social Cohesion, Nation Building and Anti-racism take place in the latter part of September with focuses on the business sector as well as academics, intellectuals and media. These summits will continue throughout October.

12) International Translation Day Workshop, 30 September – Pretoria

Through these interventions, we are continuing to respond to the needs of our people and shaping the cultural, political and economic landscape of our country. We are forging ahead to ensure that our culture flourishes and that our people continue to be at the forefront in shaping our African identity.

For more information, please contact:
Lisa Combrinck
Cell: 082 821 4886


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