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24. September 2020

Heritage Day 2020 Virtual Message by H.E. Ambassador Sizani

Heritage Day on 24 September recognises and celebrates the cultural wealth of our nation. South Africans celebrate the day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa. This year’s theme is: “Celebrating Living Human Treasures”.

Living heritage is the foundation of all communities and an essential source of identity and continuity. Aspects of living heritage include: cultural tradition, oral history, performance, ritual, popular memory, skills and techniques, indigenous knowledge system and the holistic approach to nature, society and social relationships. In South Africa the term “intangible cultural heritage” is used interchangeably with the term “living heritage”.

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 today.This year’s Heritage Day takes place in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch the Message on Facebook

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My fellow South Africans,Dear friends of South Africa,It is September and hence the time of the year in which we as a Nation come together and traditionally celebrate Heritage Month and Heritage Day. In 2020, we do this under very special and difficult circumstances as we collectively stand together to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past three years, the Berlin Mission has commemorated Heritage Day with a function at the Embassy where we invited the South African Diaspora in Germany to the Embassy, not only to celebrate, but also to engage and interact with each other and with Mission staff.Of course, due to the preventive medical measures still in place in our host country Germany, the Mission will this year regrettably not be able to host this event.

Nevertheless, the conscious celebration of Heritage Day is probably more important this year than ever. Because by celebrating our roots and our rich, vibrant, and diverse cultures, we commemorate and celebrate this very special South Africaness which gives us all the motivation, the energy, the creativity and the resilience to cope with the most trying and difficult situations and crisis!It is hence, not a coincidence that this year’s Heritage Day theme has been chosen. In “celebrating living human treasures”, we celebrate the bearers of our indigenous knowledge systems in all their diversity. South Africa has rich, unique and diverse indigenous knowledge systems that have endured for generations. These indigenous knowledge systems have sustained our indigenous communities through times of plenty, droughts, floods, famine and throughout all phases of life.

To quote our Arts & Culture Minister: “A concerted effort to preserve our heritage is a vital link to our cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational and economic legacies - all of the things that quite literally make us who we are.

”And it is my strong belief that our common South African cultural identity will be an important backbone of our common fight to overcome this and future challenges!

You as the South Africa diaspora in Germany are our “Global Ambassadors”, in the communities you reside in, your respective places of work and education. Thank you for “flying” the flag of our country, and I encourage you to continue to do so in the spirit of Ubuntu.

I thank you.

Picture Credit: fotodesign-klaus-dombrowsky.de

Copyright by SA Embassy 2020