Arts and Culture leads 2016 Reconciliation Month Commemoration, 1 to 15 Dec

The month of December marks Reconciliation Month in South Africa. 2016 Reconciliation Month will be commemorated under the theme, "Bridging the Divide towards a Non-Racist Society". The theme reminds us to continue to work together to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist society where we live together in harmony and as a productive people strive for a prosperous nation.

Commemorated annually on 16 December, Reconciliation Day started in 1994 after the first democratic elections to foster reconciliation and unity amongst South Africans and to embrace the common ties that binds us rather than focus on what divides us as a nation.

This years' Reconciliation Day Commemoration will take place on Friday, 16 December 2016 at Gopane Black Aces Ground, Zeerust in North West Province.

On this day, South Africans across the country are encouraged to reach out to each other, to unite as a nation, strengthen relations with fellow South Africans and those who reside in the country. This day also speaks to human rights and equality together with redress and transformation.

The origins and significance of this day can partly be traced back to the Battle of "Blood River" in 1838, which saw the Voortrekker army led by Andries Pretorius defeating the Zulu army in the Ncome Stream. During the days of apartheid, 16 December was commemorated as the Day of the Covenant; the Day of the Vow or Dingane's Day, which was created to commemorate a vow taken by the Voortrekkers (a group of Afrikaners who had moved inland to escape the clutches of British colonialism and imperialism) in preparation for a battle with the Zulu people, under King Dingane kaSenzangakhona, with whom they had a serious land dispute.

"Like many African countries, South Africa emerged from an oppressive, divisive and colonial system which created a fragmented society. Recently, we have seen that much remains to be done to build non-racialism in particular. While the nation-building project has made many advances in the first 21 years of freedom, the current reality points to mind-sets that need to be changed," said Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

"We need to focus on what unites us. We need to dwell on the importance of raising consciousness, and a fundamental re-inventing and re-imagining of some among us, so that equality and inclusivity become engrained in all our people, who together should work towards a better life for all", said Minister Mthethwa.

Given South Africa's past history of divisions along the contours of race, class, religion, culture, language and other social constructions, the quest to bring about a more equitable society, as envisioned in the NDP Vision 2030, remains a key challenge. The NDP presupposes a kind of society with a firm commitment to righting the wrongs of the past, with perpetrators of human atrocities willing to take the first step towards reconciliation.

As the country celebrated 22 years of freedom and democracy, much has been done to create a better life for all, but incidents of racism continue to reemerge.

In response to this reality, the Department of Arts and Culture and other sister government departments will host Public Dialogue Series and other programmes focusing on the notion of reconciliation, constitution and the inculcation of positive values. We are also reminded of the vision of former President Mandela and his contribution in nurturing social cohesion and nation building in South Africa.

Activities and programmes commemorating Reconciliation Month from the 1st to the 15th of December 2016 include the following:

The Department of Arts and Culture will host a Reconciliation Month Dialogue on Tuesday, 06 December 2016 in the Eastern Cape under the theme, "Reconciliation and Nation Building: The vision and values of President Nelson Mandela".

A Reconciliation Month Dialogue on the 09th of December 2016 in Vaal, Gauteng under the theme, "20th Anniversary of Constitution: The role of the constitution in ensuring reconciliation, social cohesion and nation building".

A Reconciliation Month Dialogue on Tuesday, 13 December 2016 under theme, "Bridging The Divide Towards A Non-Racist Society: To what extent has the reconciliation project reached the Khoi and San Communities?", in Northern Cape

The Department of Arts and Culture in partnership with North West Office of the Premier will also host a Reconciliation Month Dialogue under theme, "Bridging The Divide Towards A Non-Racist Society," and a Gala Dinner. These events will take place on Thursday, 15 December 2016 at Mmabatho Convention Centre in Zeerust, North West. The programme includes the Signing of the pledge, and the launch of Reconciliation, Healing and Renewal Logo.

"We urge everyone to mark Reconciliation Month as an opportunity to strengthen human solidarity and tolerance and to build national identity and social cohesion in our country", states Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Source: Government of South Africa.

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