13 JULY 2016
Honourable Deputy Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Inkosi Mahlangu (Ndzundza!);
Honourable Executive Committee Members of the National House;
Honourable Leaders of delegations from Provincial Houses;
Good morning, Ndi Matsheloni, Molweni, Sani bonani, Dumelang, Avuxeni..
The National Development Plan (NDP) – Vision 2030 envisages a South Africa where South Africans will be more conscious of the things they have in common than their differences.
The NDP advocates that “Arts and culture open powerful spaces for debate about where a society finds itself and where it is going. Promoted effectively, the creative and cultural industries can contribute substantially to small business development, job creation, and urban development and renewal”.
Promoting Nation Building and Social Cohesion
Nation Building and Social Cohesion is one of the 14 outcomes of the current administration and the Department of Arts & Culture was mandated to support, implement, monitor and report on the government’s programme of action for social cohesion and nation building.
On a quarterly basis, the Department assesses progress by key delivery partner departments in terms of the implementation of the programme of action for social cohesion. Overall, by social cohesion we refer to the degree of social integration and inclusion in society.
This is particularly important given our socio-historical past of deep divisions, principally along racial lines, but also through other social constructions such as gender, language, culture, religion and other extraneous considerations.
As part of promoting social cohesion, there are a number of specific areas of work by the Department which should find resonance in the mandate of this House that is responsible for traditional authorities by law and these include community conversations, social cohesion advocates programme and the sectoral consultations on social compact.
As part of the 2012 national summit resolutions, the Department was mandated to, among others, keep South Africa in a conversation. This involves getting different communities into dialogue with each other in terms of the unearthed opportunities from within the local community in promoting social integration and inclusion.
While race may not be a predominant factor of divisions in areas under traditional leadership, there are certainly other aspects of life in these areas that may detract from the broader agenda on nation building and social cohesion.
These may include patriarchy, culture, and tribalism. For example, the Department is rolling out a series of conversations in the Vuwani-Makhado-Malamulele area as part of the broader mediation effort there. The ultimate aim is to ensure greater integration and inclusion among people in the area.
The Department is grateful for the unwavering support it enjoys from traditional leaders in the area.
Social cohesion advocates
As part of the advocacy effort on social cohesion, the Department has enlisted eminent persons across the different areas of national life to assist government in championing the cause for social cohesion and nation building. We assist the advocates by creating platforms for them in doing this work.
However, given their standing in society, the advocates also champion this cause in areas within their locus of influence and control. It is therefore appropriate to also exhort traditional leadership to champion the nation building cause in more visible and practical ways. The Department is also available to offer support in this regard as and when requested by traditional leaders.
Sector consultations on social compact
Given the growing gaps in the broader society around issues of race and racism, the Department has moved with speed in terms of the rollout of sector consultations on the social compact.
The social compact in the broadest sense is a self-contractual obligation in terms of the various ways in which the different sectors commit to promoting social integration and inclusion, in particular, their commitment to eradicating racism.
The Department will between July and October 2016 engage traditional leadership as a sector in terms of its role to promoting social integration and inclusion, but also more specifically, in terms of eradicating racism.
Nation Building finds practical expression in the Freedom Charter, hence the clarion call that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it”.
The role of the Traditional Leaders in the preservation of our diverse cultures cannot be emphasised more. It is said that a nation that does not preserve its culture it is a lost nation.
Our national symbols reflect the identity of the country and its people as critical elements in realising a national common shared identity. The South African national anthem does reveal a history of a once fragmented society. “Die Stem” and “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica”used to serve different communities.
The combination of these two anthems marks a time in history where unity, nation building and social cohesion have taken a centre. The national anthem is a national prayer, it should be sung in full at all times and it must be observed with respect and dignity.
I call upon our Traditional Leaders to join hands with us as we continue to instil the spirit of patriotism through the National Identity Project which includes promoting the recital of the Preamble of the Constitution, installation of the National Flag in schools as well as the distribution of the CD Toolkit on how to sing both the National and AU anthems, posters and the national identity booklet called the Passport of Patriotism.
In the previous financial year, we installed the South African Flags in 3,557 schools, bringing the total number of flags installed in schools to 25,266. In 2016/17 we will conduct a full project review to verify number of schools without flags, condition of flags and replace old flags and poles.
Orality is a significant aspect of the culture of the majority of South Africa’s people. Hence the National Archives use this cultural asset as a means of collecting and documenting the experiences and memories of South Africa’s past that was neglected or distorted.
The retrieval and dissemination of oral tradition are vital to fill the gaps in the education system. It is important to integrate this knowledge not only into the formal curricula, but also into indigenous education.
This necessitated the implementation of the oral history schools training project which is undertaken in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, Provincial Archives and the Oral History Association of South Africa. Learners are trained in the methodology and given an opportunity to present their findings at the annual national conference.
Traditional leaders are the bearers of arts\culture\heritage knowledge [intangible cultural heritage], therefore they need to be included in all the Oral History initiatives such as conferences so that they can share this knowledge with the learners and the youth in particular.
Community intellectuals have been included in some conferences in the past.
We need to intensify our efforts to continue including them and the traditional leadership, and have interactive sessions where they can share information about cultural values and the role they played in building social cohesion and UBUNTU.
The 2016 Annual national Oral History Conference will take place on 11-14 October at the University of Venda in partnership with Limpopo Provincial Archives and the Oral History Association of South Africa. The theme is “Chanted Memories and Anniversaries: Celebrating Our Common Past(s)”.
Living Human Treasures
The Department of Arts and Culture is working on a project to identify and document South African Living Human Treasures. These are men and women with rare skills, knowledge and techniques that they have learned from their parents or grandparents or older generations.
We request Traditional Leaders to assist the Department in informing us of the existence of these people in their areas so we can recognise their knowledge and document them for future generations.
We all know by now that the reading and information needs of many South Africans are not met, since many citizens do not have access to library and information services, or only have to deal with sub-standard services. Illiteracy is amongst the national challenges facing our nation and it is our sector’s duty to correct this situation as we instil a culture of reading and writing.
Through the community library conditional grant, The Department completed ten new libraries and thirty-one modular libraries, refurbished eighteen libraries. In 2016/17 we will build 23 more new libraries and upgrade 55 existing libraries.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through its Global Libraries Programme provided our country with a grant of one hundred and twenty million rands for computers, enhance internet access in libraries, educational toys, training staff as well as technology for the visually impaired. A total of 667 libraries will benefit from this generous donation.
Working together with Traditional Leaders, we need to encourage the communities to take ownership of these libraries and guard jealously against anyone who might threaten to vandalise or burn them.
Annually, we embark on the reading campaign as a build-up activity that culminates into the World Book and Copyright Day celebrations. This year we conducted Door-to-Door Reading Awareness Campaign in Elim village, Makhado Municipality and 13 schools, including, Rivoni Special School, Elim Care for the aged and households to promote reading and donated books including South African classics.
In partnership with the Department of Small Business Development we hosted a series of craft izimbizo throughout the country.
Building the capacity for crafters to become meaningful players in the economic mainstreams is important. In this regard the Department has developed two business guides targeted at crafters and other creatives to assist them with the know-how to manage sustainable businesses.
The first guide is entitled “Growing your creative business: A guide for craft producers, designers and other creative”. The second guide, entitled “Exploring new markets: A guide for craft producers, designers and other creatives”.
This we did in recognition that artists are creative people who are in generality creative and who may be able to produce aesthetically pleasing works of art. The challenge for most of them however comes on issues of managing their organisations, enterprises and finances properly and sustainably.
The first guide is designed to help them with tools to address this shortcoming. The second guide focuses on building similar capacity but with a focus on exports.
In the immediate term, we are focusing on printing copies for wide distribution nationally. We will also be translating both guides into all official languages and printing those for distribution as well.
We have launched the Human Language Technologies (HLT) as a modern technology to improve translation.
In partnership with the South African National Lexicography Units we developed the monolingual and bilingual dictionaries for indigenous languages. In partnership with the National Library of South Africa we reprinted the South African Classics.
Working with Traditional Leaders, we will be able to promote multilingualism in the country. We need to encourage communities to speak our indigenous languages with pride.
In closing, I would like to reiterate that a number of specific areas of work by the Department find resonance in the mandate of the National House of Traditional Leaders.
I thank you.