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23 September 2020 | Story Prof Theodore Petrus | Photo Supplied
Prof Theodore Petrus is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of the Free State.

As we as a South African nation prepare to celebrate Heritage Day on 24 September, and as we reflect on our heritage during Heritage Month, what stands out clearly is that this year’s heritage celebrations will be somewhat … different. It will not be like previous celebrations because as a country, we – along with our fellow continental and global citizens – have experienced what can be described as one of the greatest health, social, and economic challenges that we as a species have ever faced. The repercussions and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for some time to come. And it is this realisation that may cast a little damper on our celebrations during this #Heritage Month.

But what can our shared heritage as South Africans teach us about who we are as a people, and how can this knowledge help us to adapt to and overcome the long-term challenges wrought not only by the pandemic, but also by the many other challenges facing us? 

Heritage Day is a celebration of our cultural heritage and diversity as a nation. It presents us with an opportunity to reflect on our individual and collective heritage. It is also an opportunity for us to take stock of the cultural and other resources that enable and empower us to take ownership of what we want to be as a nation, as a country, as a people. 
So, in view of the questions raised earlier, here are some ideas on what I think our shared heritage can teach us:

1. The heritage of where we come from

Inasmuch as our past is a painful one – a past that still has lingering effects decades after the transition to a democratic dispensation – it still plays a fundamental role in shaping who we are now, and who we want to become.
Colonialism and apartheid sought to suppress our indigenous cultures and traditions, and had a negative impact on our psyche, self-confidence, and dignity as indigenous and African people. But one positive that came from this, is that if it was not for our shared heritage of colonialism and apartheid, we probably would not have become the nation we needed to become to bring it to an end.  

Instead of destroying symbols of that painful past, we need to shift our perspective to re-interpret those symbols in a new way. The power of cultural symbols lies in their meanings. Symbolic anthropologist Victor Turner spoke about the ‘multivocality of symbols’, meaning that we can ascribe whatever meanings to our cultural symbols we choose. Let us reflect on how we can change the current meanings we ascribe to our cultural symbols that reflect an awareness of how the heritage of where we come from does not keep us trapped in negative and painful meanings of these symbols, but instead inspire us to create new positive meanings.

2. The heritage of where we are now

After 1994, we began the process of creating a new contemporary heritage as a nation struggling to free itself of the burden of a painful past. And while it was difficult, we have made significant strides. Yes, we do still face challenges rooted in the past: institutional and structural violence; race and diversity-related issues; intercultural and intergroup conflicts; crime and violence against men, women, and children; corruption at various levels of governance; and others. We are also faced with ‘newer’ challenges as a country that is part of the globalised world. Poverty, inequality, unemployment, slow economic growth, and ailing infrastructure are all contemporary problems, some of them rooted in the past, others the product of the contemporary context. 

What can we learn from our shared heritage of where we are now that can help us to overcome these contemporary challenges? We need to remind ourselves of what we are capable of as a nation. We have ended an oppressive regime, not once but twice. And, with all of the challenges, problems, and obstacles, we are still here.

3. The heritage of where we are going

This might sound strange, because heritage usually refers to the past and present. Rarely do we speak of heritage in a future-oriented context. However, as a nation, given our past and given our present, where we come from and where we are now determines where we are going. 

As South Africans, we need to ask the question: where do we want to go? Are we heading in that direction? If not, how do we change course so that we do go in the right direction? I have no simple answer. But what I can suggest is that it should start with critical self-reflection, both individually and collectively. We also need to ask ourselves what legacy we want to leave for future generations. Do we want them to still be struggling with the same problems and challenges that we are dealing with right now? Or do we want to leave them a legacy of a nation that stood up to its challenges, took ownership of them, and found a way to overcome them?

A globally devastating pandemic. A painful past. A present wrought with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. As a South African, as a child of the soil, I know that as a nation we can overcome, and we can emerge better and stronger. That is our heritage. The heritage of hope.

 

Opinion article by Prof Theodore Petrus, Department of Anthropology, University of the Free State 

News Archive

OSM opening concert 2012
2012-03-02

 

The OSM Camerata is going to shine in the very first annual OSM opening concert.
1 March 2012


 

OSM opening concert 2012 with the OSM Camerata
Conductor: Nicholas Nikolaidis
Date: 1 March 2012
Venue: Odeion
Time: 19:30

The OSM opening concert 2012 with the OSM CAMERATA will be streamed live on the internet with the generous support of OSM partner, LA MUSE AUDIO & LIGHTING (www.ufs.ac.za/ufslivestreaming) in collaboration with the UFS LIVE STREAMING UNIT.

The OSM Camerata is going to shine in the very first annual OSM opening concert. The ensemble will be conducted by Nicholas Nikolaidis. The programme includes excerpts from Stabat Mater (Pergolesi), Romanian Folk Dances (Bartók), Pelimannit (Rautavaara), Elegy (Grové) and Purple Haze (Hendrix). since 2011, the Odeion School of Music has embarked on a new, innovative strategy striving towards uncompromising excellence and internationalisation, which includes the A-List scholarship programme and a new flagship chamber ensemble, the OSM Camerata. Talented South African, conductor/tenor Nicholas Nicolaidis, (runner-up in the First National Len van Zyl Orchestral Conducting Competition) will take the stage for the inaugural concert of the OSM.

Nicholas started his conducting career at an early age while still in the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School. Professionally his first conducting post was as choirmaster and conductor of the choir and band at Pridwin Preparatory School (Melrose, Johannesburg) in 1996.

Following his appointment in April 1997 as the Musical Director of Côr Meibion Cymru de Affrig (The Welsh Male Voice Choir of South Africa), he conducted the choir for seven years, producing three albums. One of the highlights was the performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London in October 2000 for the Millennium Festival of Male Voice Choirs.

His orchestral conducting debut was in 1998 at the Johannesburg City Hall where he conducted the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra and the Symphony Choir of Johannesburg in a few items of ‘Last Night of the Proms’. Selected conducting performances include the Chanticleer Singers in a performance of Schubert’s Mass in G at the Holy Trinity Church (Braamfontein, Johannesburg) in 2002, and the Johannesburg Camerata, a chamber orchestra consisting of talented young performers, during their winter season in 2005.

In 2006, Nicholas enrolled at Stellenbosch University for a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting under the direction of the Norwegian pedagogue, Kåre Hanken. During this time, he also conducted the Johannesburg-based chamber choir, Collegium Vocale. He conducted the Johannesburg Chamber Wind Ensemble from 2006 to 2008.

In 2009, he conducted the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra in a programme of music by Leroy Anderson, the vocal ensemble, In Verse, and the Chanticleer Singers during their Christmas season. Nicholas was also the winner of the inaugural Young Choral Conductors Competition held during the Stellenbosch International Choral Conducting Symposium in March 2009.

In February 2010, he was awarded the Silver Medal in the inaugural Len van Zyl Conducting Competition held in conjunction with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. During the Easter period of 2010 he conducted Cantamus Corde in a performance of JS Bach’s St John’s Passion, whilst also singing the role of the Evangelist.

Nicholas has also appeared as guest conductor of the Philharmonia Choir of Cape Town in a concert with music by Ramirez and Klatzow. In that year he also conducted the gala Concert of the Brooklyn Theatre (Pretoria).

Refreshments will be on sale before and after the concert.

Admission:
R60 (adults)
R40 (pensioners, students and learners)
Tickets available at Computicket.

Enquiries:
Ninette Pretorius (Tel: +27(0)51 401 2504)


 

 

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