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Unity in Diversity

Heritage Day is celebrated annually to embrace our cultural diversity as a Rainbow Nation. This day was declared a holiday in 1996 by the late former President, Nelson Mandela. I believe that it exposes us to different customs, food, artwork, clothes, and our unique traditional dances. Heritage is the source of my identity; it assures rootedness and continuity. It plays an important role in promoting cultural diversity, reconciliation, and peace.  As an African, I appreciate, recognize, and respect each cultural group.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, “We’re going to celebrate this wonderful day on the 24th of September when we all gather around one fire. It’s a fantastic thing, a very simple idea. Irrespective of politics, culture, race or whatever, hierdie ding doen ons saam (we are doing this together) …. Just South Africans doing one thing together and recognizing that we are a fantastic nation”.

“It is not our diversity which divides us, it is not our ethnicity or religion or culture that divides us. Since we have achieved our freedom, there can only be one division amongst us: between those who cherish democracy and those who do not,” Nelson Mandela said.

The theme for the year 2022 is “Heritage and Climate”, but how does climate relate to heritage? In my perception, the World’s Heritage sites are becoming more affected by climate-change-related disasters like floods, droughts, desertification, humidity, and ocean acidification. Therefore, it affects all aspects of culture, from cultural heritage to natural heritage and to the livelihoods that are linked to a creative economy. If we ignore this effect, the climate will change how we relate to our environment.

As a proudly South African, I will take an initiative to inspire younger generations. Let them know that heritage does not only belong to the past, but it is part of our identity. It is my priority as well to break down the barriers of division among us.

Unity gives us freedom; it makes us win. Individually we are like one color but together in unity we are like a rainbow so, let us work together, teach one another, and have one vision, hence we find unity in diversity.

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Phindile Ndwalane ( Academy Student)

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