Minister Anroux Marais' Speech at the Africa Month Launch
Good day, goeiemôre, molweni
It gives me great pleasure to officially launch Africa Month in the Western Cape today. It is an even greater occasion that our launch takes place in Paarl.
For the past five years the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport has developed and contributed to the Western Cape Government’s Africa Day activities. The Western Cape Government’s programme has grown over the years and with the national Department of Arts and Culture developing an Africa Month programme in 2015, the provincial activities have dovetailed with the national programme into a comprehensive month long agenda to promote and highlight Africa and her story. It is envisaged that Africa month initiatives will strengthen the socio-economic and political integration for the continent and the region.
In celebrating Africa and highlighting her story, I consider the popular international perception that still exists today. I share with you the idea of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who said, “It is easy to romanticize poverty, to see poor people as inherently lacking agency and will. It is easy to strip them of human dignity, to reduce them to objects of pity. This has never been clearer than in the view of Africa from the American media, in which we are shown poverty and conflicts without any context”.
Although prevalent in many parts of Africa, this common image does not do our continent justice. We have so much more to offer. Through her people and places, Africa oozes with natural beauty, diversity, excellence, a melting pot of cultures and is the cradle of mankind.
As Africans we all have a role to play in sharing the African story so that the world at large is aware of the reality of our continent. We need to make them aware of our achievements, our successes, our people, our food, our languages, our cultures, our everyday lives because who better to tell our stories than us ourselves?
In the Western Cape, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport has an Oral History Storytelling project, in which we invite all who call the Western Cape home to share their life stories so that we can document our histories, cultures and heritage. In this way, we add to the African identity from a South African perspective and make a valuable contribution to how our continent is seen from the eyes of others.
In the words of Terry Pratchet I conclude, “People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact it’s the other way around”
Let us add to the conversation about us and share our stories, not only this Africa Month, but always.
I thank you