DTA Deputy Minister Obed Bapela

Deputy Minister Bapela, at the Hosi N’wa Mitwa Cultural Celebrations

Avuxeni, Good Morning, Thobela,

It is my pleasure to join you as we mark Heritage Month this September.

Being here, I am once again reminded of the rich cultures that permeate our landscape.

We are indeed blessed to live in a democratic South Africa where not only is our diversity recognised, but also celebrated.

Today we mark the N’wa Mitwa Day Commemoration and the 9th Celebration of the Inauguration of Hosi N’wa Mitwa II.

These two events are significant moments in the history of this community and its leadership.

These celebrations occur just as we have ended our commemoration of Women’s Month, which honours the role that women played and continue to play in our society.

We are thus glad to be here to pay our respects to the inspirational leadership of Hosi N’wa Mitwa II.

Her leadership engender respect and dignity not only to our country’s women, but also to the institution of traditional leadership.

As mentioned, during September we celebrate Heritage Month in South Africa, where our diverse communities cultures and heritage are venerated.

It is against this backdrop that we pay tribute to the visionary leadership of Hosi Nwamitwa and her commitment to bring about development and service delivery in her community, in support of government programmes.

Visionary leadership mobilises and educates members of the community to promote, protect and celebrate their heritage and to take pride in their culture and heritage.

Traditional leadership is the custodian of culture, tradition and customs, hence annual celebrations.

Given the history of our country, where black and other cultures was denigrated, it is vital that we acknolwedge the diversity, the beauty and the richness of the our cultural heritage.

South Africa is home to many cultures and religion.

There are few places in the world where you would see a woman with a hijab, a woman dressed in African Christian traditional garb and a Hindu woman dressed in her attire, walk past each other, without a second glance.

So while other countries may persecute some for wearing a hijab, for example, such rights have become the norm in a democratic South Africa.

Heritage Month reminds us to continue respecting and celebrating each other in keeping this democracy vibrant and alive.

The Ministry takes opportunity to congratulate the community and its leadership for organising the celebrations on an annual basis to educate youth and children on their culture and heritage.

Great efforts have been made to transfer the rich cultural heritage to future generations and to instil pride in the youth, so that we never again cross the path of division and derision of each others’ cultures.

This also further promotes community identity and encourages further research on the history of the community and its leadership.

Through honouring our culture, the you learn more about the values and principles of the community.

Hosi N’wa Mitwa II is a model leader that has rose to the challenge of meeting the demands of the current situation and times.

Social media and other IT related systems and platforms should also be mobilised to show-case such cultural celebrations to encourage other communities to celebrate their rich heritage during Heritage Month.

It is a month to celebrate community identities to promote social cohesion and to build a nation united in its diversity.

Times like these call for selfless leadership, driven by community interests.

I have no doubt in my mind that Hosi N’wa Mitwa II is such a leader.

From the time I visited the area last year, until today during this event, I have heard and observed that everything she does is not for her own benefit, but rather for the benefit of her community, including vulnerable groups such as women and children.

Hosi N’wa Mitwa II is known for establishing collaborative relationships and partnerships with appropriate stakeholders, in both the private sector and government, through the Valoyi Traditional Authority Trust.

Such partnerships are used to facilitate the community developmental agenda, to advance development and service delivery for socio-economic development and empowerment, to tackle the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Hosi N’wa Mitwa II has a good track-record of providing support and advice to government on matters that have a bearing on traditional communities.

Hosi has immense experience in public life, including the years she spent as a teacher educating the nation, a member of parliament as a public representative and a distinguished traditional leader.

It was not easy to become a woman traditional leader of the Valoyi community, which was confirmed through the legal processes due to misunderstandings based on gender stereotypes on the interpretation of customary law of succession.

Her ascension to the throne was affirmed by the Constitutional Court, and served as a growing indicator of the rights of women in the institution of traditional leadership, specifically, and in South Africa, in general.

Hers is a rare leadership with appropriate qualities to serve her community and the nation.

A unifier and visionary leader, second to none.

It would be amiss for me not to mention some examples of this visionary leadership.

The Traditional Council Offices, built with support from Sir Elton John Foundation, an international donor, through networks and connections for sustainable community development. High level skills were required to establish, maintain and service relationships and networks in order to ensure that this was done.

The Traditional Council Offices are used as multi-purpose centres, or what is commonly referred to as community centres, to promote access to essential community services, including government services to ensure that communities access services within their areas, instead of travelling long distances for such.

The Khalanga Guest Lodge, which provides hospitality and generates income to the Traditional Council. This will in-turn provide employment opportunities in the hospitality field and encourage youth and children to pursue careers in the hospitality industry in future. This attracts tourists into the area, especially as a result of its strategic location for guests and tourists into the Kruger National Park.

The Valoyi Cultural Village, where the rich cultural materials and history are kept and used to show-case the rich cultural heritage. This centre serves as an educational resource for community members, especially youths and children. As we mark Heritage Month, we cannot forget the connection between heritage and tourism. Cultural tourism is a vital enabler of economic development.

The building of  a state-of-the-art high school to promote quality education and accessibility to modern facilities and infrastructure.

The N’wa Mitwa Dam will also be used for preservation of water to ensure uninterrupted water supply to households in the community. Fish harvesting will be encouraged for economic opportunities.

Cultural heritage celebrations promote community identity to instill pride and confidence in local communities. This encourages communities to be part of the league of communities that form the South African nation, with its diverse cultural heritage.

Hosi N’wa Mitwa II actively participated as a panellist during the recently convened national Traditional and Indigenous Leadership Indaba in Birchwood, Johannesburg, in the province of Gauteng. The Indaba was between traditional leaders and government, including other key stakeholders. The theme of the Indaba was on “Unity in Diversity – Together moving South Africa towards an inclusive and prosperous future”. The Commission Discussions centred around four key areas, namely:

  • Land ownership, tenure rights and radical socio-economic development;
  • Social Cohesion and Nation Building in the context of Ubuntu;
  • Institutional Capacity and Support, and
  • Constitutional and Legislative mandate

Resolutions from each of the Commissions were adopted by the Indaba. This culminated in the signing of a declaration and a statement of intent. The resolutions cut across all spheres of government and a Programme of Action (PoA) was developed for implementation, through a costed Implementation Plan.

This has led to a thorough consultation process on the PoA, to mobilise resources and support as part of government’s commitment to prioritise traditional affairs matters towards building a more inclusive society going forward.

I encourage all communities to celebrate their rich cultural heritage to build coherent and proud communities which are united in their diversity. Let us demonstrate who we are and write our history for future generations.

I thank you.