Mzansi urged to preserve culture and traditions as the world celebrates Africa Day

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The country's Africa Day celebrations were held at Cradle of Humankind.
The country's Africa Day celebrations were held at Cradle of Humankind.
Lubabalo Lesolle

It’s in the different shades of skin, the shapes of women’s bodies and the richness of languages that sets Africa apart from other continents.

With the theme, Our Africa, Our Future, the continent commemorates Africa Day.

The South African celebrations were led by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Cradle of Humankind in Gauteng.

He says this year marks 60 years since the Organisation of African Unity was founded on the 25th of May 1963. 

“The words of the founding charter of the OAU, which is the predecessor of the African Union, are as relevant today as they were back then. The charter called for the harnessing of the natural and human resources of our continent for the total advancement of Africans.“

Africa has many challenges. In many parts of the continent, battles for control of Africa’s natural resources are fueling conflict, instability and terrorism.

Some multinational companies are engaged in unscrupulous conduct that is harming human health and polluting the natural environment. 

“In some parts of Africa, instead of respect for diversity, divisions are being sown between communities. There are places where people are being persecuted on the grounds of gender, ethnicity, language, religion or sexual orientation.”

President Ramaphosa calls on all to never use national pride as a weapon.

“Even as we South Africans exercise our national pride, this can never be an excuse to turn against other Africans who live in our midst or have sought refuge in our country. 

“Let us find strength in our diversity. Let us forever strive to find the common ground that unites us as Africans, instead of seeking out what divides us.

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“In the words of the African Union Anthem: let us unite and celebrate together the victories won, let us defend our liberty and unity, and let us uphold the bonds that frame our destiny."

Traditional expert Mlawu Tyatyeka says all Africans need to remember the importance of being true to themselves, especially in the age of the world being a global village.

“Our culture and traditions need to be preserved. Yes we are different in our belief systems, but we must have acceptance and tolerance for one another.

“Another thing we cannot leave on the wayside is our languages. Your mother tongue is who you are and our traditions are linked to our languages. Even our clan names and the praises that follow, are linked to a certain time in history.”

He uses the Qhinebe clan name as an example, saying Qhinebe got lost while hunting in the Haha Forest, near the Mkhomazi River and there were three loud bangs from a thunderstorm and that is where the praises for that clan name come from.

“Nothing comes from nothing. There is a reason or an origin for everything we do as Africans. The problem is that Western teachings came and convinced Africans that our ways, education and beliefs were inferior. It is our responsibility to teach and pass this knowledge on,” he says.

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The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities’ Mpiyakhe Mkholo says African languages need to be preserved.

“Language is almost like an incubator that shapes our culture and identity. People who are proud of their languages and who they are, are not easily intimidated.

“Our hope as CRL is that people will start to embrace their languages and remember that they also help to shapes our values and identity. Our languages must be protected, promoted and preserved.”

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