Celebrating heritage

2008-09-22 00:00

“Heritage” is that which is handed down from the past by tradition. This nation has a remarkable depth and diversity of cultures and ethnicities, something that is both enriching and challenging. One of the mistakes of the past is that those who had political power refused to em-brace this diversity as a distinctive and a shared heritage and instead chose separation and the promotion of the sectional interests of the dominant group.

That folly continues to cast a long shadow, but it is shrinking. The unveiling in Durban of the statue honouring King Dinuzulu is — like the monument to the Zulu warriors at Isandlwana and the memorial to Chief Albert Luthuli near KwaDukuza — a significant step towards redressing the imbalance. Its position adjacent to the statue of Louis Botha, sometime Boer general, first prime minister of the Union of South Africa and the man who released King Dinuzulu from prison, gives it added symbolic significance. Despite the odd similarity of the uniforms they wear, the two leaders represent very different heritages. Neither should be negated, both should be respected, and it is right that they should stand side by side.

It is all the more distressing, therefore, that in renaming Durban’s streets the powers-that-be seem bent on aping the chauvinism of apartheid by rejecting Pietermaritzburg’s sensible example and exchanging one personal name for another. To discard politically neutral and honourable names, such as that of Edwin Swales who displayed extraordinary courage in the war on fascism’s genocidal authoritarianism, and instead to introduce politically charged names and those of foreign ideologues with no link at all to the city or the country, displays an insensitivity tantamount to vindictiveness.

It is right that neglected heritages should be given recognition, but that does not mean the obliteration of one heritage in favour of another. Serving a political agenda in this way can only reinforce the sectionalism and antagonism that bedevils this nation’s history. Group identities are a reality, and each group has the right to rejoice in its own heritage, but also an obligation to respect the heritage of others. The challenge of heritage celebrations is to build sensitivity and tolerance.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.