Minister Anroux Marais' speech at Cultural Affairs Stakeholders event
WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS AND SPORT, ANROUX MARAIS
CULTURAL AFFAIRS STAKEHOLDERS EVENT AT MANDELA HOUSE, BISCHOPSCOURT
13 SEPTEMBER 2017
Good evening, goeienaand, molweni nonke
I am both humbled and grateful to have you all present here this evening. We could not have asked for a more fitting venue than the private residence of one of our most iconic statesmen who believed our human compassion binds us, the one to the other, not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.
In light of our current circumstances, it is no secret that the future of South Africa, for many, for the majority, is bleak. We have all felt ourselves fade into a state of hopelessness. There now exist a mutual despondence in our criminal justice system, our national government, the status quo, job availability, options to improve our livelihoods, which all ultimately lead to a loss in confidence. Each day we see a new form of division, either on the basis of race, cultural backgrounds, ethnicity, gender, language, appearance, sexual orientation and levels of education.
Horrific incidents such as child murders, increasing gang violence and all the other social ills spark community outrage, accelerates open dialogue into the causes and possible remedial actions to these preventable fatalities and in retrospect, leaves us with a disturbing wake up call to the daily realities in our vulnerable communities. Although, much needed, these plans of action appear to be more temporary rather than sustainable as they dissipate as time goes by.
Our youth have been described as “A generation whose dreams have been denied, whose hope has been diminished, whose trust has been broken, whose talents have been crippled’. The question then arises, what do we as a provincial government then do to correct the inequalities and hardships we suffer as a nation?
As young professionals, some more seasoned than others and proudly South African, we are in an extremely powerful position to make a real difference in our country. The solution is quite simple, well simple to say, but to bring into fruition will require the co-operative will to bring about that real change to the Western Cape and greater South Africa. The solution is to paint a new picture of the future of South Africa, to allow our youth and nation to dream again. We need to boost the confidence and inspire that very same hope we all shared as South Africans when Madiba was released and made his very first official speech. The role we have to play is not only to liberate society once more, but to liberate the minds of society. Contrary to popular belief, we need to understand that we are not a country at risk but rather a country with potential. Yes, we are confronted with all these adversities, but there are noble initiatives underway in our communities and it is long overdue that we showcase these life-changing efforts rather than perpetuating our sad state of affairs.
The Western Cape Government has made significant strides in creating an enabling environment for our youth and I can go on and on about the different initiatives, programmes and partnerships that are opening opportunities for all, yet so much more can be achieved. Central to the business of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, is providing arts and culture, museum, heritage and language-related services to all who call the Western Cape home.
If we are honest and blunt about our current circumstances, it is safe to say that our limited budget has and will for a significant period of time place constrained pressure on our service delivery footprint as a government. We can attribute the blame of our failing economy, deteriorating moral fibre and consequent conflict to a national unaccountable administration or even state capture, yet and still, the finances available, or lack thereof, will remain insufficient to deliver on our fundamental mandate to the people we serve.
It is therefore paramount to have networking engagements of this nature to explore opportunities collaboratively build on our social capital and support each other in our mutual goals. In the wake of our dismal economic situation, it is our duty to become more innovative in our business. If the funds are too limited to support cultural affairs financially, surely we are to go the extra mile in creating an enabling environment in which artists of all forms can flourish. These engagements are not only pivotal but essential if we are serious about inspiring change through cultural affairs as it unites, fosters tolerance, acceptance, builds civic pride and community participation. All of which is much needed at present.
You will have noticed the small exhibition showcased here this evening. The works displayed comes from the collection of one of Madiba’s dear friends and fellow Rivonia trialists, Denis Goldberg. Goldberg personally experienced the enrichment that creative expression brings through his unassuming appreciation of South African art. Since the dawn of democracy he has been involved in development and educational projects to uplift youth from historically disadvantaged backgrounds. Despite being celebrated in South Africa and abroad for his life’s work, Goldberg still humbly pursues the transformation of his community. He believes that the arts can promote relationships, social inclusion and unity between divided people to which we can all agree.
Much like Denis Goldberg, we are all in influential positions to plant that seed of hope and to inspire our youth to want to be better versions of themselves. It is important for us, regardless of political affiliation, differing cultural backgrounds or even job descriptions to increase trust, social inclusion, quality education and confidence in the human spirit to contribute to the enrichment of our communities and the wellbeing of the South African condition. As our late great President once said, it always seems impossible until its done.
Consider the Johnny Cleggs, Taliep Petersens and Rebecca Malopes, and so many others who started with very little or nothing but did not stay in that space of despair, but rather thrived through the arts and with the support of a helping hand, listening hear and being steered in the right direction, they have and continue to change South Africa for the better. Be that helping hand, listening ear and conduit of change.
I thank you.