The National Heritage Council of South Africa (NHC) and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) collaborates to transform Maritime Heritage
Maritime is a global sovereign responsibility of any country that its land space is bordered by sea water. It has for many centuries been one of the most important features of a country’s economic strengths for international and transnational trade. Equally, the sea line history that, since the existence of humanity especially in Africa known to be the cradle of humankind, has over billion years built a heritage that contributes to defining our nation.
Our fore parents have lived off the sea with only their indigenous knowledge as the earliest form of technology and civilisation. Wars were fought around the coastlines. The country that is today enjoying democratic freedoms, was defended against colonialism at the sea borders of the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean. The industrial era has witnessed the developments of ports, harbours and various economic activities. Some of the first diamonds, gold, artefacts, slaves and other valuable properties of South Africa as well as the African continent were transported to other parts of the world via the sea.
Many South Africans, especially the black majority have been watching the shorelines changing without them participating actively apart from being recruited as labourers. The inclusion of blacks in mainstream maritime heritage is extremely disconcerting.
The National Heritage Council of South Africa (NHC) is an entity of government that concerns itself with, among the other, previously neglected heritage. It within our mandate to ensure that the neglect on preserving our heritage is not prolonged further by ensuring that due attention is accorded. We are also forever striving to seek and link heritage to contribute to economic development of the country. It is often unthinkable that the two, heritage and economic development, can have mutual strong ties. The case of cultural tourism that has taken off as the ‘new gold’ in the recent years is a good example. We are again confident, as we were with cultural tourism, that maritime heritage gives South Africa an explorable opportunity for as a resource for economic extension.
On the priority list of this collaboration, the NHC and SAMSA will focus on the following:
Making South Africans aware about the opportunities that exist for job creation within the maritime sector. This will be achieved through hosting National, Continental and International Maritime Heritage Conferences/Summits; hosting Arts, Culture and Heritage Festivals; hosting Maritime Heritage Awards; hosting Maritime Heritage Lecture and Dialogue Series;
Opening opportunities for black participants in the sector through promoting career-pathing, skills development and job creation in maritime heritage industries; encouraging women, youth and people living with disabilities to participate in building and sustaining maritime heritage;
Breaking the barriers of entry by providing preservation assistance through publications and consultations; and
Empowering the public through education about maritime heritage.
The maritime sector that currently generated over R19 billion in 2012 for the Gross Domestic Product of South Africa and the Culture and Heritage sector of the Western Cape Province alone had an estimated income of R176 million in 2008, surely has a potential of firstly reviewing the figures and making sure the majority people of this country benefit. The cultural crafts sector was also estimated at generating R2 billion revenue for the country in 2010. An economic integration with marine tourism at the harbours and beach sites can expand the potential of these economies.
We thank our partner SAMSA in sharing the vision of building a nation that is proud of its African heritage. We hope and believe that this three-year partnership will bring the desired changes in both the heritage and maritime sectors.