HERITAGE DAY: A VIBRANT CELEBRATION OF OUR UNITY IN DIVERSITY
By: Nontobeko Moimane – 22 September 2023
The Vaal University of Technology (VUT), in collaboration with the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture, and Recreation, celebrated Heritage Day on 21 September 2023, at the Amphitheatre within VUT’s Vanderbijlpark Campus.
Held under the theme: ‘Promoting cultural diversity, social cohesion, reconciliation, peace and economic development’, the event celebrated the diversity of our nation’s rich cultures, emphasizing the unique elements that define our heritage.
During the event, distinguished speakers including Mr Mabutho “Kid” Sithole, actor and founder of Ilifa, and Mr Sphephelo Buthelezi, a member of the Buthelezi Clan and uNdunankulu kaZulu, urged each one of the hundreds of staff and students to embrace their mother tongue as a vessel of culture and wisdom that connects us to our roots.
Mr. Vido Kungune, Acting Director of Internationalisation at VUT, highlighted the unity brought about by sports, drawing parallels to the South African Rugby team’s international success. He underlined VUT’s commitment to cultural diversity, social cohesion, and internationalisation, with a focus on combating issues like tribalism and xenophobia.
Another speaker on the day, Mr. Jacob Thamaga, the acting manager for African Languages Development Unit (ALDU) at VUT, reiterated UNESCO’s definition of heritage and emphasized the fundamental human right of preserving cultural identity. He also emphasized VUT’s role in promoting African languages, citing its Language Policy which, heh said is currently being rolled out across all levels of the University.
In the end, a shared sentiment by all speakers was for everyone to actively preserve and understand their unique heritage, emphasising its role in shaping identity and values.
In addition to celebrating unity in diversity, the event overall served as a powerful reminder that heritage is a living entity evolving with each generation. For many who were in attendance, it left behind a renewed sense of pride in their heritage, inspiring commitment to its preservation for future generations.