WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS AND SPORT, ANROUX MARAIS
LAUNCH OF AFRICA DAY
25 MAY 2017
Programme Director, Mr Nkosekhaya Lala
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of the Consular Corps
HOD: DCAS, Mr Brent Walters
CEO: ARTSCAPE, Dr Marlene le Roux
Artscape Board members
Assitej Board members
Senior Government officials
Visiting artists and performers from all over our continent
Ladies and gentlemen
Molweni nonke, goeiemôre, good day all
As a proud South African, I welcome you all to the Western Cape as we launch Africa Day at the Artscape Theatre today.
It is indeed a great pleasure to address you at this auspicious occasion in celebration of Africa and highlighting her story. Under the African Union’s 2017 theme, “The African Year of Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through investments in the Youth”, I consider popular international perceptions of Africa that still exist 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 realities 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? Who better to alert the world to fact that Africa is home to:
Who best to challenge the negative global misconceptions by promoting the enriching realities of Africa other than our youth? The elders have left a diversity of African heritage and cultural history for us to foreground, highlight, celebrate and preserve for future generations. I cannot think of a more effective way to showcase our African identity than through the Arts and cultural activities by sharing our stories through music, drama, dance, cuisine, fashion and literature which transcends language barriers.
Using the Arts as a tool to join the global conversation on Africa is central to our efforts as the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport. We have made great strides in creating an enabling environment in which our youth can thrive artistically with quality education at the forefront. Since its inception in 2010, our flagship MOD (Mass participation, Opportunity and access; Development and growth) programme has provided constructive after-school activities to more than 40 000 learners across the province. MOD centre activities take place from 14h00 – 18h00 and provides a structured sport, recreation, arts and culture development curriculum for all participants. These MOD centres have strategically been placed to cater to our most vulnerable communities. With the limited annual budget of just over R106 million, we have also prioritised our investment in the youth by increasing access and participation in the arts and cultural activities by funding arts organisations; increasing platforms for talent showcasing and forging new innovative partnerships with others for greater opportunities to come into fruition.
Our partnership with ASSITEJ (the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People) is one such example. Revered as a global network, ASSITEJ promotes and facilitates the growth of theatre for young audiences. This non-profit organization was founded in Paris in 1965 and has established membership in over 100 countries in the world, connecting thousands of professional and artist networks, and individual members who engage with, support and develop theatre for young audiences. ASSITEJ South Africa is an active member of this organization, and has transformed the landscape of theatre for young audiences in South Africa by uniting indigenous artists and theatres to maximize our children’s exposure to high quality performing arts. Since its establishment in 2007, it has made an immense impact on theatre for young audiences, engaging with education, touring productions, hosting arts festivals and providing platforms for emerging and established artists. I take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to both ASSITEJ as well as the Artscape for their continued support and assistance in this very important endeavour.
Together, it is our duty to create an enabling environment through which our youth can thrive as ambassadors of the African story. Contrary to popular belief, we need to understand that we are not a people at risk but rather a people with potential. Despite the many challenges, there exists praiseworthy initiatives in the streets of Africa and it is long overdue that we showcase these life-changing efforts rather than only perpetuating our hardships. Our role is not only to liberate society once more, but to liberate the minds of society.
I thank you.