As Heritage weekend draws to a close, we take a look at what these Western Cape ministers have to say about heritage and what it not only means to them but also to their departments.
Tomorrow, the country will celebrate Heritage Day in recognition of our unique culture. The Western Cape enjoys a diversity of peoples, cuisine, wildlife, languages, and culture. This is something that we must not only celebrate but also promote and protect.
The Western Cape Government is committed to protecting and promoting this unique heritage and we are guided by the Provincial Recovery Plan which aims to ensure that each individual is empowered to live a safe and healthy life filled with opportunity.
I am proud to lead a province that is as diverse and multi-cultural as ours and I am proud to lead a Provincial Government that plays its part in protecting this. What I love most about our heritage is that we are a warm and resilient people.
In celebrating Heritage Day, I have asked our Provincial Ministers what this important day means to them and what role their Department is playing in protecting and promoting heritage.
The Provincial Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez
In response, the Provincial Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez said: “Heritage Day is an opportunity to celebrate our humanity. An opportunity to value the significance of our shared heritage, culture creed and diversity, amongst others. This day presents us with an opportunity to express the individuality that also unites us. Against the backdrop of Heritage Day, the provincial Department of Social Development will be launching a new Youth Café in Hessequa Municipality. As a department, we wish to continue promoting the empowerment of young people to pursue their dreams and help make their communities a better place.”
The importance of protecting heritage for future generations was further acknowledged by the Provincial Minister of Education, Debbie Schäfer who said: “My favourite part of my heritage as a South African is our natural beauty and our people. The Western Cape in particular is blessed with a variety of ecological and geological wonders, which play a vital role in our economy and which we must preserve and protect for future generations. It is also important we teach our children of the importance of our heritage as a province and as a country, and I am pleased that schools are also celebrating Heritage Day in their own unique ways.”
The importance of passing down and sharing heritage and culture was emphasized by the Provincial Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sports, Anroux Marais, who said: “I absolutely love the Afrikaans language and the emotion it carries as indigenous to South Africa. With its many varieties, Afrikaans is proudly South African. Cultural heritage goes beyond that which we find in our built environment, such as buildings, towns and monuments. It includes our overall collective traditions and inherited lived expressions through oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, language and crafts. Intangible cultural heritage is an important part of maintaining cultural diversity.”
Minister Marais further explained that: “Our understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of our diverse communities helps foster social inclusion, intercultural dialogue and encourages mutual respect and creating new narratives and meaning. As we continue to celebrate Heritage month, the Western Cape DCAS supports many projects that give you the opportunity to explore the province’s rich heritage. Whether you visit our Provincial Archives, your local museum or a local Provincial Heritage Site, we encourage you to celebrate our unique South African Heritage!”
The Provincial Minister of Transport and Public Works, Daylin Mitchell
The Provincial Minister of Transport and Public Works, Daylin Mitchell, outlined the important role of family in promoting and protecting heritage and said: “I am grateful that we live in a country where we recognise our diversity and different heritage. Like many of us, I have a favourite food, and I appreciate being able to communicate in my mother tongue, using expressions often unique to my family and community. However, my favourite thing about heritage is how the unique way we express it and how we enrich our own culture and heritage by learning from each other. Family forms a big part of our heritage and it is my wish that members of my Department spend it with family and friends, celebrating responsibly.”
Speaking to the role played by his Department in protecting and supporting the province’s heritage, Minister Mitchell said: “While many are celebrating, there will be members of my Department who will be patrolling our roads to contribute to people arriving at their destinations safely. I thank our traffic officers for their selfless service while others are celebrating and spending time with family and friends. I urge the people of the Western Cape to celebrate Heritage Day responsibly, and not to drink and drive.”
The Provincial Minister of Human Settlements, Tertius Simmers
The Provincial Minister of Human Settlements, Tertius Simmers, outlined how the Provincial Government’s services further protect and promote our unique heritage. Minister Simmers said: “Through our various Integrated Human Settlement Developments across the province, our continued aim is to bring communities together, where regardless of their background, creed, culture, language or sexual orientation, our people are able to live together as one. This allows our communities to not only focus on their own culture and beliefs, but to establish and forge relationships with their immediate neighbours and the broader community. This is critical if we’re going to become communities that recognise, appreciate and respect each other’s diversities. In addition to this, we have an opportunity to take ownership of our areas, where respect for one another and ensuring each other’s general well-being becomes everyone’s priority. Let’s make it our business to guarantee each other’s safety.”
In protecting heritage and ensuring the safety of all, the Provincial Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, said: “The health system starts at the community level that is at homes. It is the role of Community Health Workers to educate people about wellness. The first contact of a health system is a Community Health Worker. We will never be able to strengthen Community Orientated Primary Healthcare without the assistance of the Community Healthcare Workers, NGOs and CBOs, we need them.”
While the Western Cape Government’s infrastructure and services promote and protect our unique heritage, we are further creating an enabling environment for the tourism and hospitality industries which are so closely linked to our Province’s unique heritage.
The Provincial Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer
The Provincial Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, said: “The Western Cape’s rich wine heritage was recently highlighted when one of our most celebrated wines, the Grand Constance 1821 dessert wine, was recorked. At 332 years old, Groot Constantia is the oldest wine estate in South Africa and enjoys Provincial Heritage Site status. In addition, the growing of Rooibos which dates back to nearly 200 years, was recognised as a product worthy of Geographical Indication Status by the European Union.”
Minister Meyer continued: “These historical milestones speak to our rich agricultural heritage. Products such as Cape Brandy, Karoo lamb and our iconic fynbos are also linked to our rich agricultural heritage. This Heritage Day, however, I encourage you to plant indigenous plants in your garden. By doing so, you will be supporting our local flora and limiting the number of invasive species entering our natural spaces. In addition, an indigenous garden will help to create a healthy ecosystem and support biodiversity.”
Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier
The Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, will also be focusing on the tourism and hospitality industries this Heritage Day. Minister Maynier explains: “I will be attending the launch of a new and improved hospitality experience and purpose-built ‘Food from the Ancestors’ gastronomic experience at !Khwa ttu, a San culture and education centre in Yzerfontein along the West Coast. We have supported the development of this cultural and heritage tourism experience through our Tourism Product Development Fund, which has helped to sustain over 300 jobs and is one of the many ways we are working hard to support the tourism sector in the Western Cape.”
Minister Maynier has encouraged those in Western Cape to be tourists in their own town and highlights that: “Together with Wesgro, our tourism, trade and promotion agency, we are working hard to develop existing and new tourism attractions and experiences across the province that celebrate our unique cultural diversity and heritage. And then, through our tourism promotion campaigns, we’re making sure that they’re considered and included in the itineraries of travellers visiting the Western Cape.”
Reflecting on what our province’s unique culture means to him and how he intends to enjoy it, the Provincial Minister of Local Government and Developmental Affairs, Anton Bredell, said: “Ek hou van ‘n lekker braai in die buitelug en melktert met moerkoffie na die tyd. Ons natuurskoon is altyd ‘n lafenis, n plek waar n mens kan ontspan en weer jou batterye herlaai. My departement en veral CapeNature werk hard op Erfenis Dag om vir ander wat in ons reservate en parke wil kom uitspan, dit so maklik en lekker as moontlik te maak. Deel van my departement is CapeNature wat meer as 20 verskillende reservate regoor die provinsie bestuur. Ons werk hard elke dag om ons reservate so goed moontlik te bestuur en seker te maak ons parke is skoon en veilig.”
The Provincial Minister of Community Safety, Adv. Albert Fritz
The Provincial Minister of Community Safety, Adv. Albert Fritz concluded: “Today we celebrate the great diversity of cultures of our province and declare that we are one great province! South Africa is a melting pot of rich cultural heritages, especially the cultural heritage of all our different groups in the Western Cape. I think of the amazing heritage of our Muslim community, the remarkable heritage of our Christian community, the great Xhosa heritage, of the Jewish community and of our Indian and Rastafarian communities; and so much more. Today we celebrate these and all of our cultures!”