Our heritage is our link to the past.

2014-07-28 12:21

Our African forebears lived in this lower end of Africa for thousands of years. They reared cattle and small-stock, and raised various types of crops. Many of them produced clay and wooden crafts. More than 1 200 years ago they began to mine and smelt iron, copper and other minerals which they used to make work implements. The various communities spoke different languages yet had trade and inter-marriage amongst themselves. Sometimes, as the numbers grew and they needed more land, they would fight or negotiate, as other communities did all over the world.

It is against this background that we’re celebrating our heritage today, it is of result of many forebears who died for us, in valleys and mountains; who died hanging from trees, who died in the cells of their jailers, who died with unfulfilled dreams and hopes, and who traded their valuable personal time for the fight against race-based economic and political systems. Our heritage is important mainly because the spirit and direction of the nation are founded upon and reflected in its historic heritage. It is also important for future generations as it gives them a sense of belonging preventing them from believing in distorted history.

South Africa is deep rooted in the culture of her past. South Africa is a vast country, and centuries old. It is difficult to sum up her heritage in a few words. She has been the birth place of many great men and women. She has given birth to many great kings, and political movements. These movements have not been limited to South Africa alone, but they have travelled to other parts of the world. The South Africa of today has a rich past over which we can look back with pride. Our past has given us a definite way of life, which is typically South African and yet universal in approach. The most prominent feature of South Africa's culture is that it com­bines many cultures. South Africa is a land of great variety and many in­fluences have worked to produce modern South Africa. South Africa has shown great capacity for absorbing what came to her from outside.

British rule in South Africa brought a new element. It brought us racism, apartheid and the system of national oppression for all indigenous South Africans. All indigenous groups were denied the power to determine how their country should be governed and were denied equality of opportunities. For several hundred years South Africa was strong but later was forcibly to be under foreign rule. She lost her vitality but never lost her identity and her heritage.

The ideas of caste cut South African society into countless divisions. Colonialists took advantage of these and conquered South Africa. It was our forefathers, who were warriors, kings, and chiefs who made South Africans aware of their ancient heritage which they had forgotten. They led us in our    struggle for freedom. In this task they put into practice the basic wisdom of ancient South Africa. That wisdom consisted in freedom from fear and freedom from hatred. To the ideals of truth and non-violence which had been preached long ago by the wise men of old, they had a new shape.

Throughout her past South Africa has preached and practiced tolera­tion and understanding. These have been the basis of South African reli­gion, philosophy, art and literature. Her sons wet far and wide, unmindful of the dangers in their ways, to spread this message of peace. By adopting peaceful means forgetting our independence, just like Mandela who showed the superiority of peaceful methods over force and violence.

The charms and graciousness of the South African way of life endures due to the philosophy of life which we have inherited from the past. The glamour of the western way of life with its glorification of material prosperity and its wonderful achievements in the field, of science and technology has modified our aim and ambitions. A new orientation has been given to South African life. The ideal now chiefly adored is success or the ability which produces success. The Quit of success has dazzled our eyes and some of us have started looking down up to the old traditions and culture. The results, however, have not been very happy. We are losing our roots. Blind imitation of the west will just make us get lost in blind alley.

However, we must not also resist the winds of change and remain clinging to the past values and principles of life. We must not close our doors to the influences from the outside world. If those influences are good, they will strengthen the basic concepts of our culture and so enrich it as to make it truly representative of the life of our people. What is to be avoided is a blind imitation of cultures and values. Countries become great not because they have achieved progress in material things but because they follow noble traditions and base their life on what has been called by a moral way of life. We should remain true to the real genius of our land, the quality and habit of mind which has pre­served us through the ages.

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