The month of September, a period where we tilt in the direction of our cultural heritage in South Africa has arrived. It is further signified by our celebration of the actual day of heritage (September 24), which serves as a part of the many values inculcated into South Africa’s public life by the democratic order. In the process, inevitably implying unity amongst all people.
This is a time when the cultural quintessence that forms as a part of our rainbow nation – its unique eleven official languages, ethnic diversity, thus varied traditions and celebrations – reverberate in remarkability. In such a propitious time as this for culture, we appreciate the diverse lexicon of dialects that South Africa is enriched with, as such is arguably intelligible beyond South African borders. Think of Setswana from Botswana, Sesotho from Lesotho, or Swazi from Eswatini (and other languages such as Ndebele). Crossing, as it were, even an invincible frontier of deeply rooted tribalistic sentiments in the recesses of the mind, well into a realm where South Africa’s Constitution recognises them as inclusive to the eleven official languages.
Indeed, in such a nation like South Africa – in spite of the class structure within, as well as the daunting statistics on unemployment, in and amongst different ethnic groups – there does exist a certain cultural unity that binds us as one. The fact of being an African. That certainly is a cause worthy of celebration. For it is generally a basis of our continent’s interconnected social order.
On the other hand, human memory hardly fails in preserving its awareness of the cultures and folklore tales that are unique to Africa – protected and guided through retelling respectively through our languages, and in a manner that ensures posterity preserves (and sometimes) refine these traditions. Allowing the culture to move along swiftly and with perennial evolution.
In addition, what our cultural heritage promises are perspectives about the conventional ways in which humanity showed up in the past, so as to ensure that we move forward as individuals embodying an in-depth historic awareness of tradition in the quest for a co-created and sustainable future. That is a sacrosanct relationship between the past, the present, and the future – lessons to be passed on and learned. More aptly, cultural inheritance, that is.
For culture is an invaluable aspect of our history.
Last thought, as we bask in the cooling shadow of our rich heritage and sheer diversity, let us also remember that this very cultural heritage of ours is also centred around the notion of development, with a human effort aiding its betterment and funnelling it towards a sustainable but culturally cultivated ecosystem. Such is the feel and perceptible traditional milieu in our southern region of Africa.
Celebrating culture certainly isn’t a cultural charade but a determined attempt to deepen our awareness of the different cultures and traditions (languages too) that exist and are often at play within our varied eco-systems of co-creation, when an individual immerses in cross-cultural engagements.
The Da Vinci Institute wishes you a remarkable Heritage Day ahead.