December marks Reconciliation Month in South Africa and during this month all South Africans are encouraged to use the month to reach out to one another as the country continues to work together to build a united and prosperous nation.
2015 Reconciliation Month takes place under the theme, “Bridging the divide: Building a common South African nationhood towards a national developmental state.” The theme enjoins citizens to unite in a sense of belonging and pride and also reminds us that we should strengthen relations with fellow South Africans and those who reside in the country, build a future where we all live together in harmony and embrace the common ties that binds us rather than focus on that which divides us as a nation.
Minister Nathi Mthethwa launched Reconciliation Month on 30 November 2015 at the War Museum in Bloemfontein where he unveiled plaque at the Garden of Remembrance to honour men, women and children who perished in the concentration camps of the South African War between 1899 and 1902. During the launch, Minister Mthethwa also opened Sol Plaatjie Exhibition space which looks at the participation of black people in the South African War.
“Reconciliation Month says that we ought to be walking this common road hand in hand conscious of our past and confident of our future, no longer at the mercy of systems that divided us into black and white and men and women and saw no measure of equality between us.
Reconciliation Month reminds us that in 1994 with the first democratic elections, we set South Africa on the pathway towards a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous reality characterised by nation-building and social cohesion and a better life for all.” added Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
The Day of Reconciliation, 16 December, previously known as Dingane’s Day or Day of the Vow is a very significant day in the South African history; the origins of this day can be traced back to the Battle of “Blood River,” where the Voortrekker army defeated the Zulu army at battle in the Ncome stream in 1838 over land ownership. On the other hand, it is also the day that the African National Congress (ANC) formed Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the liberation struggle military wing of the ANC in 1961.
As part of government’s efforts to redress the inequalities of the past and transform the heritage landscape of the country, this year’s Reconciliation month will focus on recognising and highlighting the trials and tribulations of the Khoi and San people and the role they played in the liberation struggle against colonialism and apartheid.
“The truths of a nation are its realities. For us, even the truths of the realities of the past must be told, as these shape the present and the future. Without us being able to grasp history and its facts and figures at our fingertips, we cannot fully grasp ourselves and understand the present in its totality. Because the past is never only the past. We can only overcome and transform that which we know and not that which we do not know or that which is hidden from view. This is why it is important that the full truths of our history are told.” Minister Mthethwa emphasized.
The National Day of Reconciliation will be held at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Mission Campus in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape on 16 December 2015 at 09:00. On the eve of the commemoration, 15 December 2015 at 18:00, the Minister of Arts & Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, will host a panel discussion on Reconciliation at the same venue. The panel discussion will reflect on where we come from as the nation and the strides we have made towards reconciliation.
The Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi will deliver a keynote address at the Zola Nqini Annual Memorial Lecture at the Uitenhage Town Hall on Wednesday, 09 December 2015 at 15h00. “Zola Nqini contributed immensely to the liberation struggle until his tragic death in Lesotho where he was appointed by the late OR Tambo as the ANC Chief Representative”, said Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi.
“Reconciliation Month is also about acknowledging the contribution of those who have played a sterling role in our struggle for liberation and also those who were marginalised”, added Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi.
Prior to the Lecture, his statue will be unveiled at Uitenhage Town Hall at 15h00.
Other events hosted by the Department are as follows:
- The Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi will pay a special visit to Ekuphumleni Old Aged Home, Ezwide Township and Elizabeth Stuurman Old Aged Home, Korten Township on 10 and 11 December 2015 respectively.
- Through the Department of Arts and Culture Living Legends Legacy Programme, Zwelakhe Mtshaka and Ronnie Govender will on 12 December 2015 conduct a Community Theatre Master Class, “Theatre for Development” at Gladstone House in East London, Eastern Cape. This Living Legends Legacy Programme seeks to honour the living legends across all arts disciplines for their contribution in the arts, culture and heritage sector.
Enquiries: Ms Lisa Combrinck-Spokesperson for the Minister-Cell: 082 821 4886/ LisaC@dac.gov.za or
Peter Mbelengwa – Spokesperson for the Deputy Minister – Cell: 082 611 8197 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org