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Heritage Commemoration in South Africa

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HERITAGE COMMEMORATION PROJECT Part 1 Kayleigh Didcott Problems Connected to Heritage in the Cape We can neither heal nor build, if such healing and building are perceived as one-way processes, with the victims of past injustices forgiving and the beneficiaries merely content in gratitude. Together we must set out to correct the defects of the past.1 These are the words of Nelson Mandela, just two years after our country emerged into democracy. He understood that before we could begin to build and grow together as a nation, we had to heal. In order for us to begin the healing process, we needed to create a balance between all forms of heritage. Transformation is crucial to empower voices in our country which had previously been silenced. After the apartheid era, it became quite evident that the only way forward was to give equal recognition to all those who made South Africa what it is today. The San, Khoikhoi and the Strandlopers, the Portuguese, the Dutch and British colonialists, the French Hugenotts, all Africans, and the people of eastern origin who came to South Africa as slaves and migrant labourers- all of these people deserve representation. But how can we begin to decide who's and which heritage gets commemorated? ...read more.


The most important question is- how do you actually find balance? How can you represent everyone in the best way possible? Not only do we have the issue of trying to decide how we wish to commemorate our history, we also have the issues of money and time. The financial implications of new buildings, sculptures and name changes is not to be taken frivolously, especially with the low budget associated with the promotion of heritage. How can one justify changing a name of a street, which comes with money and time, or having a costly sculpture commissioned, when there are thousands upon thousands of people living in poverty and squalid conditions? The time it takes to put such things into place could possibly be spent in more constructive ways too. Living in the 21st century, it is also very important that we avoid any gender bias, as in the past it has always typically been men who have been celebrated, whilst women have had little or no recognition. Bringing together all these controversial topics is not an easy job. We need to forgive the wrong doings of the past and move forward. It is the only way. Our country cannot grow in separate communities. ...read more.


Another potential idea is to have that have small museums on public transport, with information included in the schools curriculum on the inside walls or on screens inside buses and trains, as many disadvantaged people use public transport and would be forced to absorb crucial information in this way. Interaction between all schools should be encouraged, as the children are the future. By including this kind of interaction into the Life Orientation program, children would have an opportunity to bond with other students of different backgrounds and cultures. By uniting together as a common people, we can create a cross-pollination of our rich and diverse culture, languages, art and religious practices2, which will unite us into a common body. In the words of Ms. B. Mabandla: "Now is our time to sing, to dance, to paint, and to create. This is our right as citizens of South Africa. There is so much to look forward to, and so much work to be done. I trust we can do this as a united community with a common goal in mind."3 1 (Dept. of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, page 12) 1 Crump et al, page 38 1 National Monuments Council, preamble 2 Dept. of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, page 12 3 op cit, page 4 ...read more.

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