“Apartheid dispossessed Africans of their heritage”

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Deputy Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nocawe Mafu, says colonialism and apartheid regimes marginalised the living heritage of indigenous people for hundreds of years.

She was opening the debate on Heritage Day in the National Assembly.

The theme for this year’s debate is Celebrating our cultural diversity in a democratic South Africa.

Mafu elaborates.

“For centuries, this country’s history was biased then served the colonial and apartheid regimes ideas. The living heritage of people indigenous to South Africa was marginalised, demonised and affected by dramatic changes in land ownership, livelihoods, language use and social structure. In the early 90s, the ANC crafted a blueprint for its transformative programme titled Ready to Govern, which clearly pronounced on heritage transformation issues.”

‘Apartheid stripped Africans of their land’

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) says Africans were stripped off their heritage when they were dispossessed of their land by the colonial and apartheid regimes.

IFP MP, Mkhuleko Hlengwa, emphasised on how heritage is tied to land.

“As sons and daughters of Africa; land is our first heritage. As Africans and South Africans, our identity, beliefs and our very livelihoods are all intrinsically and connected to the land. Our very being is tied to the land of our birth. Yet, many South Africans were dispossessed of this heritage under the colonisers, under the Apartheid regime, forcibly removed and send to resettling places with no connection to our heritage, culture and to our roots. The governments of the day used legislation for dispossession, including the 1913 Natives Land Act and the 1950 Group Areas Act.”

Promoting unity

Democratic Alliance (DA) MP, Ntombi Khumalo, says South Africa’s heritage can be celebrated in different ways to promote unity.

“We need to celebrate the spirit of unity that comes through various ways, including sport. And we will remember how for example the Sprinboks, Banyana Banyana, and the netball team united gave us a national pride we all can own.”

South Africa will mark Heritage Day on Sunday 24 September.