Why heritage is important

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SEPTEMBER marks Heritage Month, a month in which South Africans will celebrate all that make us exactly that – South African.

Naturally, there are many sub-categories in such a heritage based on the varied cultures which make up the people who live here, but there are many shared examples of heritage too.

Why is it important to conserve and treasure the heritage of all a country’s people? Well, in the movie, The Monuments Men, which centred around Nazi Germany’s leader Adolf Hitler’s efforts to destroy artworks as part of his efforts to reshape Europe, a statement is made by one of the main characters who says, “You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they will still find their way back.

But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it is as if they never existed.”

Art is, of course, only part of our heritage – there are many other aspects which also have to be protected. The great test for South Africans is to respect and consider each other’s heritage from the past and to build on a common heritage for the future. There is no easy way to do this and it requires mature and dignified leaders to show the way.

During this month, great focus will be placed on heritage, which is defined by South African History Online as being “made up of the practices and traditions that are passed on from parents to children and also from the family, community and place in which people have been raised”.

Our heritage should not be a matter of division. It should instead lead us to celebrate our diversity while learning from the past and creating a better, shared heritage for our children and their children.

Before we get too serious, however, here are a few days celebrated in the US (only in the US!) during this month: Today: National Lazy Moms’ Day; September 7: National Beer Lovers’ Day; September 11: National Make Your Bed Day; September 15: National Double Cheese Burger Day and September 16: National Working Parents’ Day.

I rest my case.

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