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23 September 2020 | Story Rulanzen Martin
Prof Mongane Wally Serote said South Africa was created with people from all over who made this their home.

The Centre for Gender and Africa Studies (CGAS) prides itself in creating spaces for intellectual discourse. This was illustrated in a Heritage Day lecture webinar presented by National Poet Laureate, Prof Mongane Wally Serote. The lecture was in collaboration with the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.

The lecture took place on 23 September 2020. Dr Stephanie Cawood, director of CGAS was the programme director. 

Diversity is our biggest heritage

Prof Serote presented the webinar under the theme Going to Basics: The Reconstruction and Development Programme of the Source. “As South Africans, we came from everywhere and created a home here –- we are the microcosm of the world,” Prof Serote said as he started his lecture. He also said that diversity is the biggest heritage the country has, and that it is a cultural expression emanating from our most complex and difficult history.

The Constitution of our country is a piece of valuable evidence in the commitment to overcome our historical adversities. “Understanding our history seeks to persuade us as a nation, and to understand that change, is constant in the dynamism and dialectics of time,” said Prof Serote. He explained this by saying that, as a nation, we must become masters of knowledge of the constant systems of change and the management thereof.

“Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, we have quickly arrived at making fundamental changes and transformation,” he said. This is because the world is changing dramatically and very fast. “The biggest and most important lesson is that we dare not forget that humanity is one,” he said.

Social cohesion and nation building a shared responsibility 

As much as the webinar commemorated Heritage Day, it was also a poignant reminder of the role that universities have to place in society at large. “We at the UFS pride ourselves on providing space for debates. This is what we are hosting here today,” said Dr Chitja Twala, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities at the UFS.  Dr Twala also said that Heritage Day is one of the milestone days on which “Africans pride themselves”.

The Deputy Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nocawe Noncedo Mafu, referred to Dr Twala’s sentiment, saying that events such as these should be hosted “to foster social cohesion and nation building, which cannot succeed if it remains a project solely and exclusively owned by government”.  Deputy Minister Mafu reiterated that social cohesion and nation building should be a concern for the rest of the society. “I am therefore thrilled with this lecture and notably the partnership with the two universities," she said.

The national theme for Heritage Month 2020 is ‘Celebrating South Africa’s Living Legends.’

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