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Posted: 08 October 2020

On the 29th of September 2020 SALGA Mpumalanga conducted a virtual knowledge sharing session on Arts, Culture and Heritage with municipalities with the following purpose:

  • Share knowledge and good practices on Arts, Culture and Heritage.
  • Honour culture and diversity of beliefs and traditions of all South Africans.


Heritage Day on 24 September recognises and celebrates the cultural wealth of our nation. South Africans celebrate the day by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up the population of South Africa. Various events are staged throughout the country to commemorate this day.

Living heritage is the foundation of all communities and an essential source of identity and continuity. Aspects of living heritage include: cultural tradition, oral history, performance, ritual, popular memory, skills and techniques, indigenous knowledge system and the holistic approach to nature, society and social relationships. In South Africa the term “intangible cultural heritage” is used interchangeably with the term “living heritage”.

Living heritage plays an important role in promoting cultural diversity, social cohesion, reconciliation, peace and economic development. In every community there are living human treasures who possess a high degree of knowledge, skills and history pertaining to different aspects of diverse living heritage. It is therefore important for South Africans to reclaim, restore and preserve these various aspects of living heritage to accelerate the use of living heritage to address challenges communities are facing today.

It is against this background that SALGA hosted the knowledge sharing session on Arts, Culture and Heritage with municipalities. SALGA invited all municipalities in the province and representatives of the Department of Culture Sports and Recreation to share information on Celebrating African Philosophy and Indigenous Knowledge System. SALGA also identified City of Mbombela, Nkomazi and Emalahleni Local Municipalities who are collaborating with the department in cultural activities to share their experiences in this regard.

Outlined below are the presentations made at the session:

Celebrating African Philosophy and Indigenous Knowledge System: Department of Culture, Sports and Recreation

The representative from Department of Culture, Sports and Recreation (DCSR) Dr. Mafika Lubisi who is a General Manager on Cultural Affairs made a presentation on Celebrating African Philosophy and Indigenous Knowledge System during the virtual session. The presentation covered the following:

  • South Africa has rich traditions and knowledge systems founded on the principles of caring for one another and the spirit of mutual support embedded in the African philosophy of Ubuntu;
  • Indigenous knowledge can help to meet the broader objectives of society, such as conserving the environment. Its protection encourages the maintenance of traditional practices and lifestyles;
  • Indigenous knowledge incorporates all aspects of life - spirituality, history, cultural practices, social interactions, language, healing;
  • Indigenous knowledge is the knowledge that helps a society make decisions about activities;
  • Indigenous Knowledge System plays a profound role in societies. It helps shape and defines their very existence and provides the foundation for their beliefs and traditional practices. Indigenous knowledge provides the basis for problem-solving strategies for local communities; and
  • Importance of the usage of traditional medicine.

Heritage Day Cultural Experience: City of Mbombela Local Municipality

The City of Mbombela Local Municipality representative Ms. Cebisile Ngomane who is an Acting Manager: Arts, Culture and Heritage made a presentation on cultural experience. The presentation covered the following on Arts, culture and heritage:

  • Promotion, development and preservation of arts, culture and heritage plays a vital role in the City of Mbombela municipality.
  • A number of programmes are conducted yearly in a form of workshops, exhibitions and commemoration of special calendar days like Human Rights day, Youth Day, Heritage Day, World Aids day, etc.
  •  Culture, arts and heritage promotes new and previously neglected research into our rich      traditions and customs.
  • Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies and religion;
  • Culture is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behaviour and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in these groups.
  • Celebration of cultural day embraces social cohesion, teaching and learning, cultural exchange, entertainments, preservation of arts, culture and heritage resources

Knowledge Sharing on Nkomazi Local Municipality Cultural Experience

Nkomazi Local Municipality (NLM) representative Ms. Shirley Mawelela: made a presentation on cultural experience. The presentation covered the following on Arts, culture and heritage:

  • The municipality embraces all Arts and Cultural Activities and programs within NLM boundaries such as community organised activities, indoni and Ummemo (traditional dance);
  • Africa Month Celebrations is hosted in schools and takes place from the 1st to the 24th of May each year. Lessons are given about the history of African Union, AU Member states background, fight against xenophobia, Ubuntu, the National symbols etc. Leaners participate in a number of activities such as traditional dances. Learners are given a topic to render a poem, where the overall winner becomes the Executive Mayors poetry for a year. The duties of the winner are to praise the Executive mayor in events or programs;
  • Heritage Month Celebrations programmes are hosted in schools. The programmes are build up events for the Heritage day celebrations that takes place on the 24th of September each year. The Imbali (flower) competition becomes an item on Heritage celebrations where each tribal authority is represented and the winner amongst them becomes Imbali ye Nkomazi. The duties of the Imbali is to be the Executive Mayor praise singer in all Ummemo Cultural events and also preparing the participants for the Indoni Miss Cultural South Africa that is hosted by the municipality during June school holidays;
  • Mayoral Heritage Day Celebrations: NLM hosts Heritage celebrations each year where all the Traditional Authorities compete amongst each other in different cultural genres. Position 1 to 3 get compensated with vouchers and trophies for each genre;
  • Cleanest Schools Competition: In Arts Program, the municipality promotes that waste that can be re-used and recycled or be used to demonstrate artwork or handcrafts.
  • The municipality budgets for the programs and seek for sponsorship from the local businesses and other stakeholders;
  • NLM programmes have a huge impact to the society in behavioral change and identity. The results can be traced from the Indoni programmes hosted for the whole of Ehlanzeni. Since the programme has started the winners are from NLM and one of the learners Miss Thembelihle Mpofu from Mananga Village took the national crown for Indoni Miss Cultural South Africa in 2017; A young poet Mr. Sibusiso Lubisi has once became the Poet in the Presidency during the State of the Nation Address in 2017/18.
  • Stakeholders that participate and engage in the programmes are DCSR, Cultural Creative Federation of South Africa, community older people (umbele welwati), eMakhosi (Chiefs), Business Forums, Heritage and Cultural practitioners, Arts and Culture Forums.

Heritage Day Cultural Experience: Emalahleni Local Municipality

Emalahleni Local Municipality representative Mr. Leslie Ntuli: Manager: Arts, Culture made a presentation on cultural experience. The presentation covered the following on Arts, culture and heritage:

Emalahleni Municipal Council celebrated Heritage day on the 23 September 2020. Employees were dressed in traditional regalia in recognition of our cultural diversity. The political leadership that is our councillors were also in traditional regalia. After the sitting of council, the employees in their attire joined the Mayor and councillors in a Jerusalem dance.

On the 24 September local poets converged at the Lynnville Park where the cenotaph is built in recognition of our struggle heroes and heroines who laid their lives for our freedom. In recognition of their sacrifices, it is rather for us as Lincoln would say be dedicated to the great task remaining before us that from these honoured dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. That we the living highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that a government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish on the earth.

Discussions and proposals on the way forward:
Discussions highlighted the following issues:

  • Municipalities to conduct educational campaigns through moral regeneration programmes for revival and strengthening of art, culture and heritage in communities.
  • Municipalities to include arts, culture and heritage in IDP and budget for the programmes.
  • Municipalities to ensure functionality of Local Geographical Name Committees.
  • Municipalities should have mechanisms of conserving culture especially oral history for future use.
  • Municipalities to document or publish the information and knowledge sharing programmes since the knowledge is shared by elderly people most of the time. 
  • SALGA to conduct the arts, culture and heritage information and knowledge sharing annually and the heritage day be celebrated collectively as a province with different stakeholders.
  • SALGA to encourage municipalities to have a standard procedure of conducting art, culture and heritage programmes and to propose standard organogram for the unit.
DCSR to engage the Department of Education to strengthen arts, culture and heritage to introduce arts, culture and heritage as a subject in school’s curriculum.

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