Honored guests, Ladies & gentlemen.
In order to know where you are going, you need to know where you have come from. This is a popular saying in the circles of our heritage and culture debates. Heritage and culture are intertwined. Heritage and culture are two co-values that have made us as a people and as the Province of KwaZulu Natal.
On behalf of the IFP, I take this opportunity to salute His Majesty the King of the Zulu nation, King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuZulu, and his Traditional Prime Minister, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, for their unwavering efforts in reviving the most important aspects of Zulu heritage and Zulu culture. The national commemoration of 24th September as Heritage Day in our country today has its roots in the KwaZulu King Shaka’s day commemoration which was revived by His Majesty and His Traditional Prime Minister years back. Umkhosi womhlanga, revived by His Majesty and His Traditional Prime Minister, has today become one of the biggest events in the calendar of the country’s heritage events. On behalf of the IFP we congratulate HMK for preserving and ensuring that the Reed ceremony is continuously held as it plays a crucial role to promote abstinence to our maidens in the face of the HIV/Aids pandemic. We also wish a successful reed ceremony.
Umkhosi wokweshwama, Incwala, and other commemorations of our Zulu culture and heritage events bear the same significance. These are what have made us, and will continue to make us the people that we are in our country. The Zulu nation today is the envy of not just other nations in South Africa and Africa, but is the envy of many around the world. Colonialism did not just encroach upon us for economic and political reasons alone. Our cultures were trampled upon. Our social existence was destabilised. Our religious and cultural beliefs were confused. Our human dignity in who we are was vilified. For as long as our freedom has not worked upon the liberation of the minds of our people in these aspects, it is not yet Uhuru!
Our culture teaches us the value of respect, the importance of giving and the essence of caring. It is the distortions that have come to bear upon us that we have communities and individuals today, who do not care for one another: who see the value of a human life as material. In the African spirit of Ubuntu, umuntu ungumuntu ngabanye abantu. In the African spirit of ubuntu, the eroding of the country’s purse for personal enrichment as we see it happening today, would have been an act of shame and treason; the looting of people’s properties in the name of social protests, would have been unheard of; the murder, assault, rape and abuse of women and children would have ranked amongst the highest of despicable crimes.
Ukubulawa kwabantu besifazane nezingane ihlazo elisithela ngamahloni. Lena yimpi esidinga amadoda nabantu besilisa ngoba abesifazane nezingane bebodwa ngeke bazilwele lempi. Idinga thina. Manje yisikhathi sokuba siyeke ukusonga izandla kodwa we need to stand up sisho sithi not in our name. This barbaric behavior must stop.
Our values teach us that there is unity in diversity, instead of downsizing others. It is in the diverse elements of our cultures and heritage that we find the threads of our social cohesion which make us the people that we are in this land. This thread of social cohesion needs to give us more strength and unity instead of dividing us as South Africans. The burning of trucks, the burning of tyres on our roads, the destruction of public property, disrespect for others’ rights, is not who we are. We are a people of honour and respect. The insults that are flying over from nationality to nationality, especially in the social media, are undermining our cultural ethos and our quest for our African identity. As political leaders, let us preach unity and bring this back amongst our communities. It is not correct to say it is okay when it happens in an ANC controlled municipality when the same can still happen in an IFP or DA controlled municipality. This is the type of politics that South Africa does not need. We said so during the liberation struggle, we continue to say so today, as a matter of principle.
In the IFP, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has taught us that there is great value in disagreeing without being disagreeable. This does not make us enemies, but merely political opponents. Of course, this comes from the Zulu saying that, “Abantu kabayi nganxanye bengemanzi.”
The province of KwaZulu Natal had solid foundations laid for it in the area of heritage by Amafa aKwaZulu Natali. The protection of the archives in Esandlwana and the commemoration of the 1879 Zulu victory there, the protection of KwaBulawayo, the re-building of King Cetshwayo’s homestead to its original state in Ulundi, the re-building of uMgungundlovu (Umuzi weNkosi uDingane), the protection of the valley of Kings and the graves of Kings, Princes and Princesses in the valley, the building of the interpretive centre at Emakhosini valley, the protection of the Khoi San drawings in the Berg and other areas of the province, and many other heritage and cultural resources of this province, are some of the great achievements that we need to be building upon as a province.
The IFP supports the promotion and preservation of indigenous languages because they tell a full story of who we are and where we come from. The building of libraries must be given priority in our disadvantaged communities as this will bring closer to them the opportunities to read and deepen knowledge which is the most available mode to transmit our culture and heritage from one generation to another.
A decision by the KZN legislature of the 5th administration to amalgamate Amafa and the Heritage unit into Amafa and Research Institute, and then migrating this to the department of Arts and Culture was rather an unfortunate decision. Heritage was previously better located in the Office of the Premier for it to get adequate and proper focus and attention.
The museums of our province, both private and public, also provide an important service to the citizens and the visitors of our province. Government must ensure that museums are properly funded, properly resourced and that they are properly maintained. Without the important services provided by the museums, future generations will not be in a position to comprehend what went on before them. Many countries around the world pride themselves for what has been stored to be handed over as heritage from one generation to the next. No amount of gold and riches can substitute culture and heritage. The rich culture and heritage of our Kingdom of the Zulu is our priceless wealth as a nation. Surely, when King Shaka ka- Senzangakhona roamed around the valleys and mountains, building this wonderful nation, he had not anticipated that by the year 2019, the Zulu Kingdom would be having such a great potential. The generations of today have a duty to preserve it from extinction. Attacks on Ingonyama and ingonyama Trust are a threat to our heritage. Attacks to the traditional leadership of our province are a threat to our heritage.
In the same vein, the protection of our environment and its resources is of utmost importance. Without a clean, healthy environment, our heritage is doomed to vanish. Government must intensify efforts to protect our Rhino, our big five and all other endangered species from the destructive hands of the ego-centric criminals. The unstable conditions of our seasons brought by the elements of climate change have shown us the more than ever need for keeping our environment safe from the dangers brought sometimes by human development.
In conclusion, Madam Speaker, I wish to refer to the one area that must receive our attention: The distortions and failure to distinguish between culture and heritage on the one hand, and that a habit (umkhuba) on the other hand. This happens in our spoken languages. It happens in some practices in our communities where some historically unknown and foreign practices will just spring up to claim the status of culture and heritage. These distortions must be addressed and corrected so that our youth will not inherit wrong practices in the name of culture and heritage.
To many of us, culture and heritage is not just a political fashion, but it lives in our veins; it is not just a populist behaviour for attracting attention, but is characteristic of our being.
I thank you.