27 October 2016
Secretary General of National Council for Culture, Arts & Literature, Mr Ali Al Yoha,
Your Excellency South African ambassador to Kuwait, Ambassador Mr Bona;
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador of Senegal H.E Abdou Lahad Mbeke;
Deputy Dean, Ambassador of Somalia HE Abdulkadir Amin Sheikh Abu Baker;
Ambassador of Chad HE Ali Ahmad Aghbash;
Ambassador of Swaziland HE Mlondi Dlamini;
Ambassador of Zimbabwe HE Mark Grey Marongwe;
Ladies and gentlemen
On behalf of the government and people of South Africa, allow me to convey our warmth greetings to the government and people of the State of Kuwait.
South Africa and Kuwait enjoys cordial and reciprocal bilateral relations. The ties between the two countries were further strengthened by Kuwait initiating the formalisation of relations by proposing the signing of a Cultural Agreement.
Both countries are fully committed to promoting mutually beneficial cooperation in the fields of arts, culture and heritage for developing activities, programmes and projects for cultural and artistic exchange. The draft Agreement has gone through the necessary processes and is waiting for the Ministers availability for signing.
I stand before you on this occasion as we celebrate both South Africa’s heritage and Kuwait as the Islamic Capital of Culture for 2016. It is such occasions that form part of on-going efforts to strengthen cultural relations between South Africa and Kuwait as we promote greater people to people contact and deepen our bonds of friendship and solidarity.
The 2016 Heritage Month theme is: “Celebrating our Human Treasures by Asserting our African Identity”.
Firstly, this theme appeals to each one of us to acknowledge and recognise the presence of our living human treasures in the communities we find ourselves in. This does not only mean knowing their names and where they live.
Most importantly, it means knowing and taking pride in the significant work they do in the preservation and promotion of South Africa’s living heritage.
By taking pride out of their work, means ensuring that the living human treasures are respected and commended for flying the South African flag high.
Secondly, the theme appeals to each one of us to appreciate and take pride of who we are. That is, where we come from, who are we, what we have achieved over the years and what do we aspire to be in the near future amongst others.
Therefore, the knowledge of our historical past and what we strive to become on our daily endeavours should consciously remind us that we are ‘sons and daughter of Africa’. As such we shall continue to live the dreams of our forebears who wanted to see a united and prosperous Africa espousing the values of love, peace, tolerance and respect for humanity.
Against all odds, our forebears went through painful past fighting against colonialism and apartheid. The two evil systems were among others designed to shape the thoughts and identities of ‘subaltern’ Africans.
Owing to this infamous past, the Department of Arts and Culture saw it befitting to call on to all South Africans to celebrate the significant contribution made by men and women in defence of our indigenous knowledge systems, our heritage and our cultural identities.
In the spirit of building a united and prosperous South Africa, the Department of Arts and Culture embarked on a project of identifying and documenting South Africa’s living human treasures. These are men and women who possess the knowledge and skills of our indigenous knowledge and living heritage to the highest degree.
The South African government is also engaged in the process of names standardisation whereby original African names are reintroduced to replace undesirable colonial and apartheid names in terms of the South African Geographical Names Council Act 118 of 1998.
South Africa has built a number of commemorative infrastructures to commemorate heroes and heroines who contributed to building a free and democratic South Africa and we call these the Legacy Programme. Some of the projects built include the Nelson Mandela museum, the Luthuli museum, the Sartie Bartmaan Centre and many other centres built and named after heroes and heroines of the country.
We remain humbled by the invitation to be part of the celebration of Kuwait as the Islamic Capital of Culture 2016 though our partnership with the South African embassy here in Kuwait. Hence we have brought a group of artists, paintings and crafts for exhibition to be part of this historic celebration. We also have in our midst one of South Africa’s renowned artist Joe Nina, who will perform at this celebration.
I would like to conclude by reiterating South Africa’s commitment to the bilateral relations with the State of Kuwait.
I thank you