As a Nation we had such a beautiful and colorful Heritage Celebration on the 24th of September. It gives hope that our people and in their diversity see the need to spend some time commemorating our diverse backgrounds with all their facets.
We have also paid a lot of focus on our Traditional Dress and genealogy. Social Media was abuzz with reflections of ancestry and beautiful dress.
Heritage is an offspring of culture. It is out of a particular culture implanted today, that future generations will observe and adopt it as a heritage of their own.
If Traditional Attire and Clan names be the core of our heritage, it means we have a heritage that exists for its own sake.
To drive this point further, let us look at the Traditional Attire we use today in display of our heritage. It is so expensive that, to suggest it as a definition of who we are, and in a nation so plagued with unemployment, it is a tacit admission that ours is a defeated nation. There is no way that what defines us can be so exclusive and exorbitantly expensive that it is afforded by a select few. Yes, that dress code is us, and is part of, and not the core of our heritage. Our forebears didn’t live to dress.
We are correctly so proud of our lineage as clans. That is evident from the recitations we often make in celebration of our heritage.
The modern world requires a being born out of merit, and in that modern world, you don’t boast about something that is not a product of your wisdom. I may move around telling the world that I’m the son of Percy Ngqondwana, but the truth is that I didn’t choose it. It befell me. As such, mere knowledge of this absolute fact is not enough. It is only important in so far as I can relate it to some legacy, the actions related to which point towards a particular direction in pursuit of a better tomorrow.
To this extent, our “heritage” seems to be backward-looking. It appears to seek exclusive status which we can’t explain where it takes us.
Our forefathers worked the land and farmed livestock and produced food massively. They built wealth. Heritage that doesn’t emphasize on that is a misrepresentation of who we really are as a nation.
Our forefathers developed indigenous knowledge that enabled them to man their affairs. They had strength of knowledge in traditional medicine and science, the indigenous ones. That is our heritage.
They possessed knowledge in numeracy and arithmetic. Some researchers point to Africa as home to early writings and inventions. That is our heritage.
They possessed knowledge on weather trends and climatological developments. That is our heritage.
The main question is how we sell our knowledge and fight for our space in the community of world knowledge producers. It is how we proclaim to the world that without our knowledge systems the global community is incomplete and poorer.
These do not negate the relevance of our beautiful Traditional Attire, dance and Clan names.
One day the sun will shine on the African Child!!!
Mesuli Ngqondwana is currently the Mayor of Nyandeni Local Municipality and writes in his personal capacity.1 comment