September is Heritage Month
Not only is September Tourism Month, but this month is also devoted to heritage. Officially, it’s an annual celebration of South African culture, both tangible and intangible, so music and language has as much place on the agenda as historical inheritance or the food that we eat. Informally, it’s a celebration of ‘local is lekker’, the quintessential experience of just what makes South Africa so unique …
Every year the government decides on a theme for the month’s celebration and this year’s theme is “celebrating our crafts, our heritage”. And what a country in which to celebrate an industry that has morphed from an expression of creativity, to a form of entrepreneurship, with whole businesses created around producing crafts from natural resources and recycled products.
South Africa has a rich history of cultural expression, defined particularly in its crafts. Through this celebration there is a greater priority: that of ‘building cohesive and sustainable communities’. A nation is built by celebrating common national identity and pride, and by showcasing our museums, galleries, heritage and other tourist attractions that highlight the country’s crafts, our heritage, and our culture.
The month builds up to the 19 September when the Heritage Awards honour six South Africans for their contribution to the preservation and promotion of South African heritage and culture at the ICC in Durban.
The awardees for this year have already been selected: Alfred Nokwe (late) for theatre; Johnny Clegg – music and social cohesion; Noria Mabasa – an accomplished sculptor and wood carver; Bheki Mseleku (late) for music; Nanda Soobben – Durban based animator and arts educator, and Jay Pather for dance .
The Heritage Awards are still relatively new. Launched only in 2006, they are annually awarded by the Heritage Council of South Africa. They’re also unique as there are no other awards that specifically award the heritage sector elsewhere in the world, although there are awards that are similar, such as as the Nobel Foundations awards in medicine, chemistry, literature, physics, economics and peace.
Look out for events around the country!