Story by Vusi Shabalala and pictures by Gugu Mtshali
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Public Works continues to respond in celebrating all commemorative days including the provincial cabinet’s programme of action to ensure that the calendar of events is actioned, celebrated and supported by all its citizenry.
In this view, management took a positive resolution to ensure that the 2017 Heritage Day is celebrated by all from each office (head office and regions inclusive) within a week (26 to 29 September 2017), with each day allocated to a specified office. It is against this background that Wednesday 27 September 2017 was earmarked for eThekwini Region to host the event.
Above: Ms Dudu Fihlela giving an address during Heritage Day
For our understanding, Heritage Day is a South African public holiday celebrated on 24 September. On this day, South Africans across the spectrum are encouraged to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to its entire people. On the day, various events take place in accordance the programme set-up by each host. This day is representative of cultures related to dress code, art, music, food, singing and dance, language, history storytelling, craft projects and or other similar things. In South Africa, it will be fair to mention that this is a special day meant for those individuals and or groups who may be interested in learning others cultures.
At approximately 12:00, personnel, guests and key stakeholders gathered at the region’s Lecture Hall, Mayville in Durban where after the day’s festivities and sequence of events unfolded. Thandukwazi Ximba meticulously managed the day’s programme and its line-up had only seven eloquent speakers. Ms. Dudu Fihlela, the Regional Director for eThekwini officially graced the occasion. In her address, Ms. Fihlela confirmed to Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu’s notion that “We are a rainbow nation”. “For me, I appreciate all of you because it tells me that you appreciate and are embracing the differences that we are having, you are even embracing the dynamics we are having in South Africa” said Ms. Fihlela. According to Ms. Fihlela, the preservation and enhancement of a shared cultural heritage in societal space is vital to mutual understanding between diverse groups of people living in South Africa.
Photo shoot: Vusi Nsibande with Dudu Fihlela
Special topics to remember the event were delivered by Nandipha Mathonsi – she briefly outlined the meaning of ‘Heritage Day’ and its celebration, giving the reasons for its significance to humanity and light to a better society that will build a prosperous nation. Musa Mbanjwa – who highlighted very interesting part of the Xhosa and Mpondo cultural heritage with the essence of respect being at core of human value. According to her, marriage, birth, adulthood, ancestral rituals and respect were the cornerstone within the Xhosa culture. Jeffrey Mbokazi – who took our minds and thoughts back to the history of the Zulu kingdom, genealogy and lineage. It was thought provoking to learn on the origin, ancestral and lineage of the Zulus, how some of the kings fought their way up to the throne, their personal destiny and polygamous dynasty, paternity and bloodline within the kingdom, the tribal wars with other tribes, etc. The crux in Mbokazi’s story was the importance of respect, trust, pedigree and cultural values within a nation. David Arnajalem – who dwelled more on language, Indian beliefs, dance, music, food and customs, which differs from place to place in the country. David also touched on religion and rituals of Indians that are mainly characterised by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices.
Part One of the programme was closed by Ms. Nokubonga Mhlongo who gave a short formal speech in which to thank all attendees who made the day as special as it was and with particular reference to those officials who made more efforts than expected for the occasion to becoming successful. The closing part of the programme was the beginning of heritage festivities – dishes of a variety of food and drinks were served with music soothing the vibe. Lessons learned from Ms. Fihlela’s keynote address is that intercultural dialogue must be constructed to promote and protect heritage. Without this approach, societies will remain victims of what may be regarded as a ‘clash of ignorance’. The value of enhanced cultural understanding will pave way for partnership in social, cultural and human affairs. There are genuine reasons to celebrate Heritage Day.