Pupils from Zenzeleni and Bovet primary schools kick-started an initiative to promote their cultural heritage and social cohesion starting with this year’s Heritage Day celebration on 24 September.
Thandi Gumede, the principal of Zenzeleni which hosted various cultural activities, said the idea was long overdue. “Everyone derives his or her identity from their culture which many Africans have lost as they aspire to define themselves through others, to their own detriment. It’s important that children are helped to grow up knowing and understanding who they are.”
She said the absence of cultural knowledge and values has led to different linguistic groups perceiving each other in negative ways.
“They stigmatise one another from a very young age instead of enriching each other from their different positive cultural aspects. As future custodians of our heritage, it’s important to inculcate cultural respect in them while still at school to prevent a total collapse of our identity.”
Schools, she added, should be platforms for them to love, embrace each other and unite around their cultural diversity.
The occasion pitted groups clad in traditional attire against each other in isiZulu and isiXhosa and, chiTshonga and tshiVenda cultural dances, poetry and drama. “It was so beautiful, and not in my wildest dreams did I think I would witness children so adept and proud in their cultural expression. Also, they sampled various traditional foods which sadly, have been replaced by pizza and other food not of their own.”