South African Cultural Observatory

Minister Mthethwa at unveiling of Nelson Mandela statue at UN

BY 24.09.18

MINISTER of Arts & Culture, Nathi Mthethwa was in New York on Heritage Day as part of the celebrations for a handover of a 1.9m statue of Nelson Mandela to the United Nations.  The statue of South Africa's first democratically-elected president Nelson Mandela was unveiled as part of a Mandela Peace Summit which coincides with Heritage Day in South Africa. The statue is a gift from South Africa to the international community and is a symbol of humanity and reconciliation.

 

Earlier this year Mthethwa spoke on world heritage issues in Africa at a ministerial meeting on 28 June 2018 in Bahrain. 

 

Address at the 42nd Session of the World Heritage Committee Manama, Bahrain

Let me first express my gratitude to you for having taken your time to attend this meeting which is the first of its nature. This is indeed the first time the African Ministers are meeting to discuss among themselves issues of common interest during the World Heritage Committee Session. As you know, the South African Government is fully committed to develop interactions with various partners, priority being given to the African Governments in championing heritage-related issues. Our engagement is also visible through the hosting in South Africa of the African World Heritage Fund which has been quite instrumental in championing a number of strategic issues of our continent.

Honorable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen, before I discharge my responsibilities for the day I want to bring the following to your attention.

The 42nd Session of the World Heritage Committee coincides with the year in which we also celebrate the Centenary of the birth of President Nelson Mandela and Mama Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu. It is also the 40th anniversary of the passing on of that African Patriot Professor Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe

These giants of Africa lived because they had surrendered their very beings to the liberation of our people. Their lives and legacies, their very beings embodied love, an idea, dreams of a free and just society, a hope, an aspiration, a vision of our collective destination as Africans.

They were internationalist, revolutionaries and ardent lovers of their people and the very soil and soul of their continent and their Africanness.

Honorable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s common knowledge that our African heritage is extremely rich and diverse. Africa is the “Cradle of Humankind”, it is also the only place in the world where one has the privilege to observe the “Big 5” in their natural environment. Unfortunately, with less than 9% of the sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, Africa has not reached her potential in terms of the inscription of heritage properties on the World Heritage List. The current configuration and representation on the world heritage list in percentages is as follows:

Africa: 8.67%

Arab States: 7.64%

Asia and the Pacific: 23.58%

Europe and North America: 47.16%

Latin America and the Caribbean: 12.95% 

This is a pointer to increase the tempo of nominations of our sites on the world heritage list. This calls for the investment of both human and financial capital to World Heritage initiatives. As a continent, we are also faced with increasing challenges concerning the conservation and management of our heritage sites in a rapid changing and developing environment which is characterized by a series of socio-economic projects. That’s one aspect to champion if we want to effectively improve the use of our heritage as resource to reduce poverty and stimulate sustainability.

Honorable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This meeting aims at providing a platform for discussion on few heritage-related issues on our continent. As Minister hosting the African World Heritage Fund, I thought that it was right to also use the World Heritage Meeting platforms to further engage with African leaders in a constructive way.

Our region has shown signs of increasing maturity over the time. In particular, the fact that our experts meet every year ahead of the World Heritage Committee Meeting to prepare issues to be discussed is a good sign. The daily meeting is another sign of maturity for improved coordination. Through your Excellency, Amb. Chitiga, I would like to thank the World Heritage Committee Members for their commitment and support.

Finally, I wish this meeting to be as opened and interactive as possible. This meeting will focus on a number of topics amongst others the following:

  1. The heritage sites associated with memories of recent conflicts(independence and liberation heritages, genocide sites, iconic places during the 2nd World War, slave routes etc.) to be nominated as World Heritage.
  2. Issues about World Heritage and Sustainable Development in Africa.
  3. The support to the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF).

I thank you for your attention. 

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