Address by the Honourable Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Sylvia Lucas on the occasion of the Heritage Day Celebrations, Lukhanisweni Community Hall, Phillipstown, Pixley Ka Seme District , 24 September 2013 at 09h00

Programme Director
MEC’s Present
Family Members of the late Comrades that we are honouring today

Phillipstown Community
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

We are gathered here today to celebrate our Heritage Day as well as to honour our comrades who have played a vital role during the struggle against apartheid.

In essence, our heritage is about recognising and preserving that which we value and hold in high esteem as a nation. It is about the combination of all those things that make us the people we are, and the nation we are.

Our way of life is determined by our heritage. To a larger extent, heritage also influences and shapes the way we behave and think as individuals.

The theme of our Heritage Day Celebrations, namely, “Reclaiming, Restoring and celebrating our heritage”, correctly captures the fact that South Africans, united in their diversity share one unique, national culture.

It remains our key duty to address some of the glaring facets of racial, ethnic and socio-economic identities that still mar our socio-political landscape.

And therefore we must heighten the struggle to liberate ourselves from the clutches of poverty, unemployment, inequality and unbalanced social relations.

These challenges continue to undermine the process of social cohesion and often manifest themselves through racism, group marginalisation and pronounced ethnic chauvinism.

Comrades and Friends, our freedom did not come cheap. We must thus never lose sight of the sacrifices of those who came before and we must jealously guard our freedom and democracy in South Africa. We are dedicating this day to the men and women of all South Africans who fought tirelessly for the freedom that we are enjoying today. It is up to us to keep the dreams and aspirations alive of those who have perished.

This is a great and moving moment in the history of our struggle for national liberation and the community of Phillipstown. Today’s occasion should be of memorable record in our minds and heart as making a turning point in the history of our community.  It is very important for any nation to remember and preserve its culture and heritage because it is what it means to become a nation.

Historians argue that people without the knowledge of their past history, the origin and culture is like a tree without roots… hence we will always remind each other from where we are coming from and how significant it is to preserve and nurture our cultural heritage.

Our rich liberation heritage must serve to ensure that we protect our common heritage and advance a national heritage, which is inclusive of cultural diversity.

Programme Director, South Africa has come a long way in addressing injustice, inequality and poverty. Our Constitution lays the basis for the construction of a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, united and prosperous society based on justice, equality, the rule of law and the inalienable human rights of all.

We have risen from the ashes of apartheid to be a beacon of democracy and hope for millions of people across the world. 

South Africa is indeed a much better society than it was before 1994 when we inherited a country from the apartheid government that was both morally and financially bankrupt.

The injustices of the past where people were judged according to their race, creed and sexual orientation have been firmly cast off.

Indeed, our national symbols, our flag and our anthem are synonymous with the shared values and the unity of our nation.

A national identity has emerged built on a respect for each other and our love for the country that we all call home.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Comrades and friends this history forms part of our Nation’s Heritage as we continue to hold free and fair elections every four years as stipulated in the Constitution.

We must also utilise this opportunity to remind you to get your green bar coded ID document to allow you to exercise your democratic right in the forthcoming National Elections. This election is crucial as we will be celebrating 20 years of freedom. It will allow us to continue to actively participate in the direction that our country must take and defend the gains that we have made as a proud nation this far.

Let us use this day to move towards that vision of national unity and cultural harmony in honour of all the comrades that have sacrificed their lives and so doing contributed to the South Africa we have today.

Everyone should be proud of their heritage. On this day, we should look back with pride as a nation at our peaceful transition from a racially divided past to a stable democracy which is one of our most important achievements in our history was brought about through struggle, sacrifice and selfless service to our people.

We should as a nation, irrespective of our shortcomings or challenges, preserve these traditions and hand them down to the next generation.

Our heritage is the springboard that will help brand South Africa as one of the greatest theatres of struggle, as well as to illustrate our victory over apartheid and our world-recognised model of reconciliation and nation-building.

Government will continue to ensure that together we build a nation that encourages dialogue, fosters social cohesion and celebrates its heritage.

Great progress has been instrumental in ensuring that our cultural institutions portray South Africa’s diverse history.

South Africa has come a long way in addressing injustice, inequality and poverty. Our Constitution lays the basis for the construction of a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, united and prosperous society based on justice, equality, the rule of law and the inalienable human rights of all.

South Africa is indeed a much better society than it was before 1994 when we inherited a country from the apartheid government that was both morally and financially bankrupt.

May the memory of our fallen heroes and heroines live forever. May their footprints be embedded permanently in the annals of our struggle.

May the tombstones that we will be unveiling here today be a beacon of democracy and hope for millions of people across the world.   

I thank you

 

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