22 September 2023 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Supplied
Heritage Month_Generic
South Africa honours a rich heritage and embraces cultural diversity this Heritage Month.

Every September, Heritage Month is celebrated in South Africa to honour the nation's diverse culture and heritage. This annual event serves as an opportunity to strengthen social unity, forge a collective national identity, and promote literacy. Heritage Day, marked on 24 September, celebrates the cultural diversity that defines South Africa. This day showcases various events across the country and emphasises the significance of living heritage – encompassing traditions, oral history, performances, indigenous knowledge, and more. 

Living heritage contributes to cultural variety, unity, and economic growth. The call to preserve and revive these aspects aligns with the Department of Arts and Culture's policies, as well as with the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Vision 130. Furthermore, Vision 130 is the foundation for the UFS’ medium-term strategic plans, emphasising diversity, inclusivity, and equity. This commitment extends to students, staff, and a wide array of perspectives, fostering a culture of excellence while embracing differences.

Join the festivities 

To celebrate Heritage Month, the UFS Office for International Affairs (OIA), alongside the Division of Student Affairs (DSA) and the Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice (UICSJ), will host a wide range of events. The OIA will hold its annual International Cultural Diversity Festival, while the DSA hosts the Cultural Fashion Show and Potjiekos Showcase on the Bloemfontein Campus. The UICSJ will stage a play titled Mhudi and host the iGwijo Festival.

According to Bhekumusa Zikhali, Research Assistant for Internationalisation, the 2023 International Cultural Diversity Festival (ICDF) is themed ‘Internationalising Institutional Culture’ and aims to bring recognition, appreciation, and celebration of diverse cultures to the university.

“The opening of the event will be an hour-long dialogue, with student representatives sharing their institutional cultural experience and more. This will be followed by a fun-filled programme running as the ICDF Culture Market, with various food and drinks stalls, artistic expressions (music and dance), and a stage play brought to you by the UIC. We encourage the UFS community to come relax with their camping chairs or picnic mats and enjoy the outdoors with us in commemoration of Heritage Month as we enter the long weekend,” added Zikhali.

Lucy Sehloho, Arts and Culture Officer in DSA, believes that the Cultural Fashion Show and Potjiekos Showcase is a lively and colourful event that brings together students from various cultural backgrounds to showcase their traditions through dance, music, and art. Meanwhile, the Potjiekos Showcase is a delicious journey through South African cuisine, where teams of students will prepare the best traditional potjiekos stew and other traditional cuisine. It is a culinary celebration that unites students through the joy of food.

“The showcase is a way for students to celebrate who they are; nothing brings people closer than music, dance, and food. This showcase is an extension of each and every one of us, connecting with each other through the arts and creating a sense of belonging within the university community,” said Sehloho.

In addition, Mhudi: War is easy, Love is hard is a play directed by Moagi Modise. In 1920, Sol Plaatje dreamt: He saw a South Africa whose people interact to produce rich cultural and productive tapestries – a South Africa alive with love and dignity.  In Mhudi, Plaatje speaks about how avoidable divisions and wars have a devastating impact on individuals and communities. He wrote this book to say that we must find new ways of thinking about belonging if we are to avoid repeating the past. Staging the epic, Mhudi challenges audiences to join hands in co-creating diverse, inclusive, productive, and caring university communities. Plaatje’s book Mhudi has been adapted for the stage and directed by Moagi Modise, featuring award-winning UFS students and graduates as actors and musicians.

Meanwhile, the iGwijo Festival is a showcase of harmonious voices and rhythmic talent coming together to create a unique musical journey. It dives into the heart of UFS campus culture, celebrating the underpinning values of Vision 130 through diversity, unity, cultural development, and the human connections we make through the timeless legacy.

International Cultural Diversity Festival  
Date: 22 September 2023
Time: 12:00-20:00

Venue: Centenary Complex, Bloemfontein Campus

International Cultural Diversity Dialogue
Date: 22 September 2023
Time: 13:00-14:00
Venue: Centenary Complex, Bloemfontein Campus

Dialogue livestream: https://livestream.ufs.ac.za/ 

Cultural Fashion Show and Potjiekos Showcase
Date: 22 September 2023
Time: 14:00-15:30

Venue: Centenary Complex, Bloemfontein Campus

Date: 22 September 2023
Time: 16:00-17:30

Venue: Centenary Complex, Bloemfontein Campus

iGwijo Festival featuring Ntate Stunna
Date: 23 September 2023
Time: 14:00-23:30
Venue: Callie Human Centre, Bloemfontein Campus

*Tickets are available at the Steve Biko Building, Office 130, at R20.

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