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Cultural Heritage: A sense of Belonging

27 September 2017

By HRH Stella Sigcau

South Africans are rekindling their heritage, celebrating their diverse cultures during September month which is recognized as the culture and heritage month. Having a strong sense of cultural history, heritage and identity is important in particular in view of the colonial past which sought to oppress and divide cultures to ensure a divided nation with no sense of cultural identity and belonging for the oppressed majorities.

Photo: Nkosi eNkulu Jongilanga and King Sekwati Mampuru

Investing in culture is therefore imperative to cultural identity and provides for a sense of belonging, pride and connectedness. The South African government is investing immensely on the promotion and preservation of South Africa’s diverse culture whilst also promoting unity in a diversity of cultures, a SA common identity which supports the notion that SA belongs to all who live in it, hence the importance of cultural diplomacy. Cultural diplomacy is imperative to building relations between cultures, promotion of cultural identity, peace and unity in a diversity of cultures.


(Pic1) Ndlunkulu Nombethe Sigcau, Princess Veliswa Ntsikwe and Ms Zandi Ngebulana. (Pic2) Princess Simanye Ndamase and Princess Stella Sigcau II

Amampondo are one of the cultures within South Africa who celebrate their culture and heritage to preserve their cultural values, identity, heritage and history, sharing their culture with other nations, whilst promoting SA’s broader heritage and unity in a diversity of cultures.

The Mpondo nation recently celebrated its culture and heritage during the annual Mpondo Culture and Heritage Festival held on the 8th-10th September in Ntabankulu in the Eastern Cape. This multicultural event which is aimed at promoting, sharing and developing the Mpondo culture and heritage was launched in 2006 to attract investment in the Mpondo Kingdom, contribute to economic growth and rural development, boost tourism and promote unity in the Mpondo Kingdom, cultural diplomacy and unity in a diversity of cultures. It also sought to promote Ubuntu, and a sense of pride in one’s cultural identity and heritage.

This message of unity in diversity of cultures came out strongly during this year’s Mpondo Festival as various traditional Leaders spoke of the importance of preservation of culture, consequential role of cultural tourism, significance of cultural economy to rural development and unity amongst the diverse cultures of South Africa. King Sekwati Mampuru of amaPedi (Jane Furse, Limpopo) in his speech emphasized the important role traditional leaders must play in promoting unity and for government to ensure that they are capacitated. Chairman of the Festival Nkosi eNkulu Jongilanga Sigcau emphasized the importance of cultural tourism in particular to rural development. He also called for investment in rural areas and for Traditional Leaders to work together to promote unity amongst the different tribes of South Africa. He also accentuated the importance of Traditional Leaders working together with Municipalities, government for a better life of rural people.

Prince Tsundzukani Mahumani of amaShangane kaNkomo from Giyani, Limpopo emphasized the importance of traditional leaders forming strategic alliances to share their diverse cultures in order amongst others to breakdown traditional stereotypes. He stressed that Traditional Leaders must play an active role in promoting and protecting culture and heritage and to rural development. Ndebele Prince Thomas Mabhena from Mpumalanga who delivered a message from King Makhosonke Mabhena reiterated the importance of culture and heritage in particular to identity, esteem and a sense of belonging and that Traditional Leaders must continue to work together to contribute to a better South Africa and for government to play a very meaningful a significant role in empowering Traditional Leaders. Ndebele Prince Magodongo Mahlangu also emphasized the importance of unity and the need to attract investment to rural areas. He raised concerns about the levels of poverty in rural areas. It is important to note that, Nkosi eNkulu Jongilanga Sigcau established strategic relations with amaNdebele, King Mampuru, and Nkosi Nkomo Mahumane in 2004 to breakdown cultural stereotypes as created by the colonial system, to promote unity in a diversity of cultures, to support and attend each other’s cultural events and share and exchange on rural development.

The Mayor of Ntabankulu, His Worship Vusie Mgoduka also accentuated the importance of unity, preservation of culture and heritage and for Traditional Leaders to work together with government to create a better South Africa. He elaborated that the Festival has boosted the economy of Ntabankulu and broader Mpondoland, promoted Ntabankulu as a cultural tourism destination, created jobs, boosted the hospitality sector and that as Municipality they will continue to support it. He commended the progressive role Nkosi eNkulu Jongilanga is playing in cultural preservation, resolving local challenges, his contribution to rural development working with the Municipality and in promotion of unity in a diversity of cultures as witnessed by the alliance he formed with Traditional leaders from various parts of Eastern Cape and various provinces of South Africa. The event was attended by various Traditional Leaders and members of the Royal families from various parts of Eastern Cape including KwaBhaca, Thembu Kingdom, Xhosa Kingdom, amaMpondomise amongst others. Dignitaries included former SA Ambassador to Canada Membathisi Mdladlana, SA Heritage Ambassador Thando Songwevu and the ANC national spokeswoman Khusela Diko to mention a few.

The event which was attended by over 20 000 people attracted a magnitude of guests and tourists from various parts of South Africa and beyond. The guests were treated to Mpondo music, dance, fashion show, cuisine and craft, as well as music by traditional groups from other provinces and artists as far as the Republic of Botswana. Awards were conferred to various prominent people who have made a positive impact to society including prominent businessman, CEO of Billion Group Sisa Ngebulana who received the Nkosi Ntsikayezwe Sigcau Memorial Award, Wits Professor Mzikazi Nduna who received the Queen Mamjoli Award, Isingqi from Walter Sisulu University which received the Princess Stella Sigcau II Award. Other recipients of Awards are the traditional groups Sivuyile and Thuluzobona. KwaBhaca Reed maidens also received the Ndlunkulu Nombethe Sigcau Award. Certificates of appreciation were given to businessman Mr. Tukela Mtembu and CEO of Imbali Legacy Project Mrs Thulisile Mhlungu for working with the Nkosi Ntsikayezwe Sigcau Foundation and Lwandlolubomvu Traditional Council in empowering schools in Ntabankulu.




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