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Annual International Cultural Diversity Festival (ICDF) celebration: Connecting the cultures

WATCH: UFS 2020 Virtual ICDF




A virtual celebration of the International Cultural Diversity Festival

On 24 September 2020, South Africa will be celebrating Heritage Day. For the 25th anniversary of this celebration, South Africans are encouraged to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions in the wider context of a country that belongs to all its people.  Dr. Chitja Twala, Vice-Dean: Faculty of the Humanities at the UFS, says: “The importance of the day is that we must celebrate who we are and learn from each other.”  The University of the Free State (UFS) has a long tradition of commemorating Heritage Day and the ideas underpinning it. One way in which the UFS celebrates and recognises the tapestry of diverse cultures represented on its campuses is through its International Cultural Diversity Festival hosted by the Office for International Affairs. The purpose of the event is to highlight on Heritage Day that international cultural diversity is a central tenet of the UFS community.

Pursuant to the tremendous challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic globally, the International Cultural Diversity Festival will this year be celebrated in a virtual format. Even during this uncertain time, it is important to find time to celebrate our uniqueness and to appreciate one another’s heritage and culture in the spirit of our humanity.  

For the 2020 Heritage Month celebrations, let us share elements about ourselves that make us proud of who we are! The diverse contributions to the 2020 virtual International Cultural Diversity Festival activities will highlight the university’s commitment towards creating a diverse, challenging intellectual environment. As a research-led university, the UFS strives to provide an environment in which new ideas are incubated and debated, contributing to its transformation process and African unity.


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UFS Honours student: Political Science, Lumanyano Ngcayisa, shares an
opinion piece on culture.

Know Culture

In the wake of such troubling times, we look at our history, which gives us the strength to continue marching on. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a crucial facet of our human interaction away from us. However, this will inspire those who follow. As Heritage Day ensues, we must take the time to reflect on our journey as South Africans. We also need to highlight the recent surge in violent unrest rooted in racism, ethnicism, tribalism, and xenophobia. Although we celebrate the rich diversity of culture in our beloved country, we must take a moment to reflect on the challenges we face because of such diversity. As founder of the movement #KnowCulture, I call upon all South Africans, particularly the youth, to share more about our journeys as young Africans in modern society. I challenge us to embrace the knowledge of our various cultures. Allowing ourselves to embrace the commonalities as South Africans, creating a more conducive environment for those who will lead South Africa in the future. Thus, as we reflect on the rich history of our beautiful land, let us envision a republic that can resolve its challenges without the use of violence. Let us put the youth forward, creating a future where those who will live in it are responsible for it. Although we embrace a youth-led future, we must acknowledge and learn from our past leaders, struggle stalwarts, mothers, and fathers. I pride myself on this quote, “I am born from the tree which is rooted in the land of heritage, history, struggle, and wisdom ... which gives life to the children under the sun. AFRICA!” I call upon my fellow youth to stand tall on the shoulders of our forefathers and ancestors, shining the light they once lit for us. I encourage all of us to learn more about our own lineages, tribes, groups, especially ancient African history. The knowledge we gain will provide insight into the greatness of the continent we call home – Africa. As we celebrate Heritage Day amid the pandemic, let us also take a moment to remember those we have recently lost. Let us strive to build a South Africa that they would be proud to have lived in. Like planets that blossom in the new spring, let us change the narrative – together – standing tall and creating a better future for South Africa.

#KnowCulture and embrace the spirit of ‘ubuntu’ through the unity of our diversity.

UFS Postgraduate student: Department of Sociology, Khiba Aubrey Teboho.

We are one

This call for unity may also mask some hard realities facing most South Africans. Our society is about conflict and pain. These are deeper questions that arise from the idea of diversity, mostly known for the idea of a ‘rainbow nation’. Can we have a rainbow nation? Is this possible with the issues surrounding our society? Is it even possible in this globalised world?

This university space gives a platform for addressing the economic, cultural, social, educational, and cultural needs of the ever-changing world we live in, by providing a space where diverse cultures, experiences, values, and perspectives are recognised, celebrated, and appreciated. Diversity and culture are umbrella terms that contain all aspects of our lives through knowledge, progress, and existence. It’s larger than entire structured parts including gender, race, religion, age, and ethnicity, to name just a few.

French sociologist Émile Durkheim believed that social order descended from the collective norms, practices, beliefs, and values of a group of people. Durkheim theorised that it was through the culture shared by a society or collective, that a sense of social connection – which he called ‘solidarity’ – emerged among people that drove them to bind together into a cohesion.

Humanity should be the opening chapter in celebrating our differences, so that we see people as human beings before we see colour, race, gender, and language. The expression, "Think globally; act locally", has motivated our national culture to better appreciate that the world is a multicultural society, of which we are a part.

Appreciation of cultures must involve understanding the perspectives of others, broadening our own, and fully experiencing and educating ourselves. Celebrating our differences, as well as our common interests, helps to unite and educate us. Through each other's diversity, we become more aware of our own. Not only do we become more aware, but we also gain a sense of pride in the diversity of our own culture. Understanding people and their backgrounds is crucial for personal and community growth. To see that it is our values that unite us, that allow us to come together in a country where we have a history of division and pain. We are united in our diversity; despite the history of our nation, we can come together for the betterment of everyone.

Let us learn to respect ourselves during our time, not forgetting our African values and traditions. Any society needs to learn how to respect itself, carry itself with dignity, and do away with self-hatred. Our indigenous knowledge should take centre stage, including regalia and language, because it is part and parcel of our heritage.

It is now time to come together to rebuild and restore this broken nation and the dignity of our people through critical reflection and mutual respect. With that said, let me introduce myself:

Ke motsweneng wa ha Khiba, leleme le letsho ke ho koma ditjhare, mo a hlamiseng ka hanong ha se moji, ha se kgale a ja tsa batho ngwana mma Khiba.


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