Media Release
Minister of Education Donald Grant
Western Cape

24 September, 2012

Heritage Day and the opening of the New Horizons Library in Bitou.

Statement by Minister Donald Grant, Minister of Education, Western Cape

I am delighted to be here today, not just as Education Minister, but also as a proud member of the Bitou community.

Today we celebrate two things. Firstly, we are here to celebrate the opening of this wonderful New Horizons Library, and secondly, we are here to celebrate our heritage.

Let me first comment on heritage. Many young people do not know what heritage means, or why it is important.

Heritage is that which our ancestors have left to us as a memory of the past. It can consist of objects, places or buildings, stories and memories, documents and many other things.

Dit is belangrik, omdat dit ons nie net voorsien van bewyse van die verlede nie, maar ook vir ons help om te weet wie ons is in die hede. Indien ons weet waarvandaan ons kom, en wat ons voorouers van waarde geag het, dra dit by tot ons eiewaarde.

'n Plek waar mense nie weet wat hulle erfenis is of dit herken nie, is 'n plek sonder 'n sin van gemeenskaplikheid of algemene ervarings - 'n plek sonder hoop en sonder 'n toekoms. Met ander woorde, erfenis lÍ ten grondslag van enige gemeenskap en daar word gesÍ dat iemand 'n gemeenskap kan peil deur die wyse waarop dit sy erfenis waardeer.

So how do we, as citizens of the Western Cape, value or see our heritage?

The heritage of the Western Cape is amongst the most ancient of all of humanity. For instance, many people believe that the human remains found at the Cradle of Humankind in Gauteng are the oldest traces of the modern human race, but few people know that that it is actually here in the Western Cape that we can trace the earliest remains of our ancestors.

Every day, archaeologists at sites such as Pinnacle Point near Mossel Bay and Blombos Cave in Still Bay are revealing more evidence on the emergence of modern humans in this province dating back around 200 000 years ago.

We have similar sites around here - The caves of Robberg are wrinkles in time, lined with ancient artifacts that date to the Middle Stone Age and the Matjies River Cave at nearby Keurboomstrand indicate they were inhabited for over 100 000 years by Middle Stone Age man and then later by ancestors of the Khoisan. Their tools, ornaments and food debris can be viewed in these caves, which are still being excavated.

It is believed that the KhoeKhoe and San people are our first true ancestors, which could make theirs amongst the oldest cultures on the planet.

Of course today the heritage of the province is one that is shared by many other people who have come to live here. This includes the descendants of people who came here from far and wide such as Europe and Asia.

The heritage of all of these people is the heritage of the Western Cape and it is important that we protect and acknowledge the heritage of all our citizens.

Die Wes-Kaapse Regering is vas van plan om ons erfenis te beskerm. Ons het 'n instituut in ons Regering met die naam Wes-Kaap Erfenis. Die taak van hierdie instituut is om provinsiale erfenisterreine te beskerm en om museums te ondersteun. Vandag beskerm hierdie instituut 1 300 provinsiale erfenisterreine en ondersteun hy 29 museums wat die beskermers is van voorwerpe wat betekenisvol is vir ons erfenis hier in die Wes-Kaap.

Een van die mees opwindende projekte waaraan ons tans werk, is die digitalisasie van erfenisrekords wat gedoen word deur rekords vas te lÍ en dit in digitale vorm te plaas deur digitale fotografie. Indien ons die waarde van ons erfenis so lank as moontlik wkil bewaar, moet ons dit toeganklik maak in digitale vorm. 'n Projek soos hierdie is daarop gemik om nie slegs ons werkmetode te moderniser nie, maar om ook ons erfenis toeganklik te maak deur die mediums wat tans deur ons jonger geslag gebruik word.

Another area where we are able to learn about our heritage is one's local library. Here, a wealth of information sits for any young person to enjoy on a variety of topics and subjects.

Libraries are also a safehaven for children after school hours when their parents are still at work and during school holidays and can provide valuable opportunities to improve one's literacy skills.

Improving the reading and writing skills of our learners is one of our main priorities in the Western Cape and we are delighted to have institutions like New Horizons Library to assist us in achieving this goal.

Every book that will go out this door in a child's hands is a contribution towards improving their literacy skills.

That is why today's launch is so extra special - because it now provides young learners of this community with the opportunity to become avid and committed readers.

I would sincerely like to thank everyone involved in this project and I sincerely hope that this library becomes one of the busiest hubs of this community - for all who live in this community.

As we celebrate Heritage Day, we must be cognisant of the fact that we should all be more tolerant towards each other and to show mutual respect for our rich and unique cultural diversity.

Respect and acknowledge each other's histories and contributions or learn to speak and respect each other's languages.

What better way to start than to learn about all our cultures by attending and absorbing what is on offer in this library.

For enquiries, contact Bronagh Casey:  021 467 2377 or bronagh.casey@westerncape.gov.za.


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