Nathi Mthethwa allocates R34m for patriotism drive

2014-07-17 16:39

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The government will spend R34 million to have the South African flag flying at every school and teach everyone to sing the national anthem.

Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa today said this was aimed at forging a national identity and unity.

“It is imperative that South Africans know who they are and know their national anthem. People should be encouraged to know those things that unite the country, to have that oneness as a nation,” he said ahead of his budget vote speech in Parliament.

Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi said the campaign started last month, when flags were handed to a primary school and a training college in Kimberley.

“Every school should fly the South African national flag,” she said.

Many South Africans mistakenly raised their fist or put their right hand over their heart when singing the national anthem, said Mabudafhasi.

“It is part of their education ... We must do it correctly ... they must know that when you sing the national anthem it is like a prayer.”

Mthethwa said the ministry would increase its efforts to protect the country’s cultural heritage, honour the heroes of the anti-apartheid struggle in an appropriate and accessible manner, and ensure history was no longer taught from a colonial perspective.

He dismissed recent controversies over “Die Stem” – when Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr sang only the old national anthem in Australia, and populist party EFF called for the song to be removed from the official anthem – as “a storm in a teacup”.

“We are in search of our identity as a nation. That is not going to be an easy journey (but) no individual can divide the nation.”

Asked for his views of freedom of artistic expression two years after the ruling party went to court to have Brett Murray’s artwork “The Spear” banned, Mthethwa suggested it should be practised with respect for efforts at nation building.

“We will not be able to dictate to artists ‘do this and do that’. But what is important is that we have an agenda, an agenda of transformation, an agenda spelled out in the Constitution [to] heal the pains of the past and take our country forward. So that is what we would wish to see in the life of arts and culture being expressed.”

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