Item 1258 - Message by President Nelson Mandela on Heritage Day

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ZA COM MR-S-1258


Message by President Nelson Mandela on Heritage Day


  • 1995-09-24 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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Heritage Day 1995

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  • English

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Today, for the first time, South Africa officially celebrates Heritage Day, For the first time we can look back as a united nation on our past, in order to help build a common future.

That we can do so is one of the benefits of democracy. Apartheid not only used our diversity to divide us. In keeping with a system that discriminated against people on the basis of race and denied them rights, the history of the majority of South Africans was systematically distorted or ignored in the 'official' history that was presented in education, the media, museums, and archives.

That was how apartheid treated the past of all those it discriminated against, in particular the African, Coloured and Indian communities. That so few of those managing our country's heritage institutions were drawn from these communities, shows the extent to which they were barred from meaningful participation !I these institutions.

The time has come for us to work towards a common understanding of our past, one that all South Africans can identify with. That task is crucial to the reconstruction of our country. It is part of the healing our society and the restoration of its dignity

It is therefore fitting that in the new South Africa which we are building, we have set aside this special day to celebrate our heritage; to take stock of our environment, both natural and cultural; and to work at respecting and improving it.

The challenge to all of us is to create the best conditions for protecting the heritage of air South Africans; to ensure that all our people are recognised in the history of our nation; and that our heritage resources become accessible to all.

... give impetus to our nation-building efforts, we have sought to promote the ... of South Africa as a rainbow nation. This expresses the ideal of pursuing unity while recognising diversity. It affirms that South Africans are able to, and want to, create a non-racial harmony which transcends apartheid's legacy of bitterness and division

For the first time South Africa has a Constitution which respects differences and individual freedoms, but guarantees equality and respect for the diversity of ail our cultures, languages and religions.

Our diversity, once used to promote division and mistrust, is now a source of strength. We must cherish it and fiercely guard against any attempts to rekindle exclusive and divisive ways of exploiting the differences amongst us. Freed from the artificial divisions and fears of the past, all South Africans can now enjoy their own heritage and culture, and at the same time identify with and contribute to the general good.

The better, as South Africans, that we understand our common history and heritage, the more we can move forward on the basis of mutual understanding. in creating the Ministry of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, the Government of National Unity affirmed the importance of arts, culture and heritage in nation-building.

If we look after our heritage we also look after our future and promote the flourishing of our cultures, as well as reconciliation and nation-building.

To inspire our people and fly the banner of our national identity in all its diversity, let us welcome the changes in our society and merge our ancient history and customs with modern education, technology and science.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 22/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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