Upington: The main national Heritage Day celebrations kicked-off with a visit to the house of a living legend of the South African liberation struggle, Sophie De Bruyn in Pabellelo township outside Upington.
Today, South Africa celebrates Heritage Day under the theme “Celebrating the Heroes and Heroines of the Liberation Struggle in South Africa”. The theme reconnects the nation with its rich and diverse collective liberation heritage.
At the gate of De Bruyn house, a large group of people including ministers, premiers and MECs were singing and chanting liberation struggle songs before proceeding to the Upington 26 Monument site for a wreath-laying ceremony.
Northern Cape acting Premier Grizelda Cjiekella said the purpose of visiting De Bruyn house was to thank the family for offering the country with their selfless family member.
“Again, we also came here because we want our youth to know the entire liberation struggle of the heroes and heroines,” she said.
On August 9, 1956, De Bruyn led the march of 20 000 women to the Union Buildings of Pretoria along with Lilian Ngoyi, Albertina Sisulu, and Helen Joseph to protest the requirement that women carry pass books as part of the pass laws.
The Upington 26 were convicted in 1985 for the murder of a black policeman in Upington at the height of political agitation against the apartheid government.
After a long trial, 25 of the defendants were found guilty of murder and one of attempted murder. They were sentenced to death after being convicted on a doctrine of “common purpose”, under which they were accused of taking part in the murder of the policeman by stoning his house and chasing him into the street, where he was killed.
These heroes and heroines put their lives on the line to ensure that all South Africans, amongst other things, enjoy the right to education, to work, economic opportunities, decent shelter and the right to health and sanitation services.
This year’s Heritage Month Celebrations will be held by various sectors across the country to remind and reconnect the nation with its rich and diverse collective liberation heritage.
Names of iconic figures and collective memories of the past history and present forms part of the South African Liberation Heritage.
Various Heritage sites and infrastructures in South Africa are named after the Liberation Struggle icons.
This year’s theme brands South Africa as one of the greatest theatres of struggle, spaces of pain, victory over oppressive systems of governance and most importantly a world recognised model of reconciliation and nation – building.
The Liberation Heritage of South Africa is characterised by peoples’ identification with particular spaces and places shaped by historical events and collective memory.
Early this year, President Jacob Zuma honoured the first democratically elected President, Nelson Mandela, by unveiling the construction of the Nelson Mandela Legacy Bridge, which will link Ludondolo village with Mandela’s birthplace of Mvezo in the Eastern Cape.
The Department of Arts and Culture has embarked on a programme to transform the country’s heritage to ensure it truly belongs to all who live in the country.
The department continues to unveil monuments and memorials that pay homage to those who made the supreme sacrifice during the wars of resistance and in the struggle for the country’s liberation.
Government has called on all sectors to use the liberation heritage as a vehicle to foster social cohesion, nation building, economic development and inclusive citizenship.