Johannesburg: The countdown to the 20th anniversary of freedom and democracy is set to begin when government launches Freedom Fridays on September 20.
Speaking at the New Age/SABC business briefing in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile said: “We are working with our social cohesion advocates in implementing a build-up programme towards celebrating this milestone (20 years of freedom and democracy).
“Part of this programme is our partnership with LEAD SA and Proudly South African to launch Freedom Fridays on September 20.”
Next year, South Africa will celebrate 20 years of freedom and democracy. Mashatile said the Freedom Fridays campaign was a call to all South Africans to take pride in their nation and together to celebrate the road they have travelled since 1994.
“This we will do by wearing, every Friday, anything that expresses our pride in being South African, including the colours of the national flag, traditional wear or a jersey of our favourite national team,” he said.
September is Heritage Month and this year’s National Heritage Day will be celebrated in Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape.
The theme for this year’s Heritage Month is ‘Reclaiming, restoring and celebrating our living heritage’.
According to Mashatile, the theme is a call to recognise the importance of the tangible heritage, museums, commemorative sites and interpretation centres in building an inclusive society.
He said since the dawn of democracy, government has built new museums, monuments and commemorative sites as part of crafting a new and inclusive narrative for the country.
These include Freedom Park in Tshwane, the Ncome Museum in KwaZulu-Natal, the Matola Memorial and Interpretation Centre in Mozambique, the Steve Biko Centre in Ginsberg and the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha.
During this month, the Mashatile said they will convene a two-day Khoi and San Heritage Summit as part of government’s on-going work to integrate the stories, struggles and ways of life of Khoi and San communities into the nation’s heritage.
Mzansi Golden Economy strategy
The 2011 National Summit on the role of arts, culture and heritage in the economy laid the basis for the Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) strategy.
At the centre of the strategy is the goal of creating 150 000 jobs as well as promoting growth in the sector.
Minister Mashatile said over the last financial year, they have created or sustained over 50 000 permanent and temporary jobs in the sector.
“We continue to support 22 major cultural events across the country and these include the Cape Town International Jazz, the Buyel’ekhaya Festival, Joy of Jazz, Mangaung African Cultural and the Kalahari Desert festivals,” he said.
Mashatile said government’s programme to establish cultural precincts across the country was still on course. He said they have major capital investments in refurbishing and upgrading some of the anchor performing arts institutions, which will form part of the precincts.
These, he said, included the Arts Cape in Cape Town, Market Theatre Foundation in Johannesburg and the Playhouse Company in Durban.
Mashatile said they were making progress in bringing back arts education in schools, adding that this year, they will place 200 artists in schools to work as art facilitators.