HERITAGE AS A HUMAN RIGHT: 30 YEARS OF FREEDOM AND SOUTH AFRICAN DEMOCRACY

2024 marks 30 years’ anniversary of democracy in South Africa. 1994 was the year in which South Africa became a democratic country. This is the year in which all South Africans irrespective of race voted and elected the first black President, Tata Nelson Mandela. The political landscape changed for the better and naturally, everyone expected to start enjoying their freedom as well as to exercise their constitutional human rights, including practicing their culture without any fear of repression.

The dawn of democracy was meant to start a process of redressing the past imbalance when it comes to protection of one’s identity and also to transform the heritage landscape which was skewed towards the western oriented heritage resources at the expense of oral history and African oriented heritage.

As outlined in Chapter 2 of Bill of rights, persons belonging to a cultural, religious or linguistic community may not be denied the right, with other members of the community to enjoy their culture, practice their religion and use of language. This statement, without reasonable doubt clearly confirm that Culture is a human right. Therefore, every South African has a right to preserve and promote their cultural heritage.

The National Heritage Council of South Africa (NHC) in partnership with the Free State Department of Sport, Arts and Culture will host a dialogue on Heritage as a Human Right under the theme 30 years of Freedom and South African democracy that will focus on cultural expression and reflect on how far we have come in the promotion and preservation of our cultural heritage 30 years later. The Seminar will be hosted on the 14 March 2024 in Mangaung.