Minister Marais' Speech at Cradle of Human Cultural Route launch | Western Cape Government


Minister Marais' Speech at Cradle of Human Cultural Route launch

12 April 2019



11 APRIL 2019


Good morning, goeiemôre, molweni nonke,

All protocol observed.

It gives me great pleasure and is indeed an absolute honour to officially welcome you to the significant launch of the Cradle of Human Culture Route in our beautiful Western Cape today.

Following much expert conceptualization, innovative collaboration and proactive effort, we are honoured to launch the Cradle of Human Culture, not only as an archaeological discovery, but as a journey of human expression and of humanity itself. As will become evident, the Cradle of Human Culture is not a place, it is not even a destination, it is a journey that will take you back 100 000 years to not only learn about the origin of human culture, but to learn more about yourself as individual and us as the collective.

The route encourages tolerance and social inclusion and more importantly social integration by advocating a common human ancestry which is much needed in the socio-political climate in which we currently find ourselves. In exploring our cultural heritage, the expression and documentation thereof, we make it clear that we have more in common than that that sets us apart and today we bear witness to how this was set in stone, long before any of us present came into existence. Today, once again, innovatively reaffirms that we all are united in our diversity and that a more concerted effort must collaboratively be made to change the bitter narrative to better. The various measures put in place to divide us based on differing cultural backgrounds fails in its destructive objectives when heritage is celebrated in this way as a platform is created for cultural expression to contribute to awareness, understanding and acceptance.

The project, in partnership with the Cradle of Humankind, an already established World Heritage Site serves to assist in showcasing the heritage of the Western Cape outside the province and the country as a whole. However, the launch today affords all who calls the Western Cape home the opportunity to gain greater insight into where we all come from as human beings before societal labels were imposed. If the Cradle of Humankind has the biological development that led to the appearance of Homo sapiens, the Cradle of Human Culture then showcases the behavioural development to Homo sapiens.

South Africa prides itself on our rich cultural heritage and key to the work of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport is to stimulate this social tapestry while embracing our diversity.  However, cultural diversity can only be protected and promoted if human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, information and communication, as well as the ability of individuals to choose cultural expressions, are guaranteed. Cultural Affairs, such as this special launch, is central towards achieving these goals and assists in creating the enabling environment for expression to flourish through arts, culture, museum, heritage and language related services.

We are proud of this collaboration and of the support received by the Cradle of Humankind, Maropeng iAfrika and the Gauteng Department of Economic Development. Today more than ever, cultural heritage, art and exploring human expression are essential to build an emotional framework to make sense of the dialogues at the core of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Acknowledging our cultural heritage builds trust, the trust needed to bridge conflicting views and interests, to overcome current barriers and obstacles with dynamic and innovative approaches, and to understand the values that are embedded in any process of technological innovation and human evolution. It also triggers us to have those “calm, constructive and even uncomfortable conversations on the kind of future we want”, as advocated by Professor Klaus Schwab. Art in all its forms and cultural heritage are catalysts for these conversations, constant reminders that we need to engage in them; and a reason, a reminder, and sometimes an excuse, not to shy away from them. 

I conclude with the words of Yo-Yo Ma as he reminds, “It is not enough to outsource culture to artists and musicians, and receive it as a passive audience. We must engage the full spectrum of human understanding and every one of us needs to participate in strengthening our cultural resources, all the time”.

I thank you.

Media Enquiries: 

Stacy McLean
Spokesperson for the Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais
083 504 1171