Understanding your heritage, your roots and ancestry plays an important role in carving out your future, writes Lenard Mbhiza
Heritage month brings unity in South Africa simply because people from different races are encouraged to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people.
Sometimes it is impossible to know your progress without reflecting on where you come from. Understanding your heritage, your roots and ancestry plays an important role in carving out your future. The most significant importance of having Heritage Day in South Africa is to increase awareness about the importance of protecting our culture and diversity as a nation.
In order for diversity to be fully celebrated on Heritage Day, equality in law and in practice is a necessary condition that we, as a nation should continue to work towards. Section 9 of the South African Constitution prohibits unfair discrimination on the basis of race, religion, culture, language and 12 other grounds.
The Preamble to the Constitution states that South Africa ‘belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity’, while section 1 notes that the founding provisions of our country are ‘human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms’, reflecting a commitment to ensure that the nation is an inclusive one which places equal value on all customs, traditions and practices.
Living heritage plays an important role in promoting cultural diversity, social cohesion, reconciliation, peace and economic development. In every community, there are living human treasures who possess a high degree of knowledge, skills and history pertaining to different aspects of diverse living heritage.
It is therefore important for South Africans to reclaim, restore and preserve these various aspects of living heritage to accelerate the use of living heritage to address challenges communities are facing on a daily basis.