Cape Town – The alarm around the scourge of gender-based violence remained the highlight and point of condemnation as SA celebrated Heritage Day on Thursday.
Throughout the week ahead of the main day, South Africans affianced themselves in celebratory activities and showcased the tapestry of the country’s multicultural diversity in regalia, dance and song.
Kgaogelo Moagi, better known as Master KG, took the centre stage in this year’s celebration as his now world-renowned song “Jerusalema” saw ordinary South Africans, workplaces and other sectors of society organising themselves into groups to dance to it.
But this did not stop heads of government from highlighting the rampant violence that continued against women and children in society, which continued even during the Covid-19 lockdown which started in March in response to the pandemic.
Delivering the main message on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa stressed that South Africans could never regard themselves as free as love as the country’s women and children continued to live in fear from violence, which he said was shameful and tainting the image of the country.
“So long as women are being harassed, abused, beaten, raped and murdered, we cannot say we are a civilised society. Abusing women is not our tradition, nor is it our custom. It is not, and will never be our heritage. Throughout the history of this continent, women have built and shaped our societies. They have ruled kingdoms. They have been highly respected and valued,” he said.
With Limpopo hosting this year’s celebrations which were held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Premier Stanely Mathabatha reiterated that gender-based violence was not part of SA’s heritage.
“On the contrary, it is peac, solidarity and the spirit of common brotherhood that forms part of our collective and shared heritage. As South Africans and as Africans, we are a people whose actions are always guided by the spirit of Botho-Ubuntu,” Mathabatha said.
Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said the government had selected three women of substance as flag bearers of SA’s indigenous knowledge systems.
These were visual artist Esther Mahlangu, Xhosa traditional musician and instrumentalist Madosini Mpahleni and endangered San language repository Katrina Esau.
“These are women who have distinguished themselves in their chosen fields of occupation, putting SA on the map on a global stage. It is fitting on this Heritage Day that we pay tribute to them while they are still alive,” Mthethwa said.