Debate On Heritage

BY
HON. MB GWALA, MPL
KZN PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURE

Hon. Speaker,

Heritage is important because it provides clues to one’s past and how the society has evolved. It helps us examine our history and traditions, and enables us to develop an awareness about ourselves. It helps us understand and explain why we are the way we are.

It is unfortunate that we are celebrating Heritage Month with a dark cloud hanging over our heads, which is that of Gender-Based Violence (GBV). The IFP recognises the efforts made by the government to deal with GBV. However, whilst appreciating these efforts, the IFP is of the belief that enforcement of policies and plans dedicated to fighting the abuse of women and children are crucial in preventing and bringing to justice the perpetrators of GBV.

Women and children in our society live in constant fear of being attacked, raped or even killed by their loved ones, or serial killers and rapists.

We need to make sure that society focuses on all these issues until they no longer exist, which might never happen. That is why the IFP echoes the calls from different quarters of society that people must use Heritage Month to fight against GBV, as no culture encourages abuse.

We need to go back to basics, where young men were taught how to be a real man. This yielded positive results, by teaching young boys to better understand that a girl or a woman should be respected. Heritage Month must revive our consciences and it must be a reminder that we have a responsibility to protect women and children from GBV.

Therefore, the IFP calls upon government to sustain its efforts in taking action against perpetrators of GBV and in holding to account the security agencies/or persons who fail to deliver in their roles. GBV affects us all! End GBV. Make KwaZulu-Natal safe.

TRADITIONAL LEADERS

The IFP respects and recognises the role of the institution of traditional leadership. In celebrating Heritage Month, the IFP urges the traditional leaders to institute measures that will help preserve the cultural heritage of the people. When there is a visible preserved culture, it will also guide the younger generation to live within the norms and traditions of their communities. Traditions and culture are the roots that can provide a peaceful atmosphere for the development of the people and combat disagreements, conflicts and divisiveness, among other things.

HERITAGE SITES

The IFP believes that a province like KwaZulu-Natal has rich, albeit silent, cultural sites, and magnificent flora and fauna. Conserving and protecting natural resources and cultural heritage sites can contribute to economic diversification, through creating businesses and employment.

Heritage sites and buildings play an important role in African communities, by preserving history and identity, and stimulating pride in communities.

The IFP believes that it is therefore crucial to take care of these sites to promote and preserve culture. KwaZulu-Natal is one of the country’s fastest-growing tourism sectors, and its rich cultural and natural heritage offer an excellent opportunity to boost economic development and improve livelihoods.

LANGUAGES

The IFP believes that while celebrating Heritage Month it is also important that we preserve and protect our indigenous languages. The IFP urges the Office of the Premier to ensure that more is being done by the Provincial Department of Arts and Culture to promote and preserve languages.

According to UNESCO and Tylor, “Language and culture are two elements that are embedded in an individual as footprints of his/her identity. On the one hand, culture is a complex collection of knowledge, beliefs, arts and letters, value systems, laws, customs, traditions, modes of life and any other capabilities and habits distinctive of a particular group”. Further, UNESCO states that “one language disappears on average every two weeks, taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage. Thousands of languages are at risk of disappearing in the coming decades. 90% of human languages are expected to disappear from the earth by 2050.” Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to preserve and promote our languages.

SOCIAL COHESION

The IFP and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi believe in the importance of social cohesion. That is why the IFP always supports any government initiatives and programmes aimed at fostering social cohesion. Social cohesion and nation-building are among our country’s greatest underlying challenges. This is not an easy task, given that our history has been one of violently dividing our people and entrenching inequality. The National Development Plan, however, proposes that we can all make the necessary sacrifices to create the shared future that we dream of. Let us all commit ourselves to this task and build a future that will stand in stark opposition to our past and where we all share a sense of nationhood and common purpose.

Therefore, Hon. Members, social cohesion can neither be decreed nor pontificated on by the hoi polloi from lofty heights but will come as a consequence of deliberate and sustained efforts to build a more equitable national democratic society.

It seems incontrovertible that a society that is unequal will not easily achieve coherence, and that nation-building is rendered more difficult and near impossible by inequality, poverty and unemployment.

Heritage should unite and not divide South Africans. Our unity cannot be a unity that seeks to obliterate diversity; it can accentuate and celebrate the diversity of our people. Our culture and heritage are indeed the pride of our nation, and such symbolism is a strong force for unity. However, symbolism alone can only eventuate in an ephemeral and tentative unity, emanating from pride in sharing a geographic space with great and talented human beings.

Lasting and durable nation-building is based on equality of outcomes, not formal equality of access to opportunities. It therefore behoves all who seek social cohesion and national unity to build an equal society through fighting against inequality, unemployment and poverty.

The new culture of materialism and lust for money seems to be the sole motivation of many people, including many in the top structures. We need to resist this culture of conspicuous corruption and greed, as well as the inevitable corruption that is required to sustain it. This selfish behaviour runs contrary to our most valued and commonly shared cultural value of ubuntu-botho. Instead of promoting that cultural tenet of our heritage, namely that the individual prospers when the community prospers, there are too many people in power who are popularising the theory of individual prosperity, at the expense of the community.

I thank you.