Racism cannot be tolerated in South Africa and must be fought with vigour every time it raises its ugly head, says Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa.
Mthethwa was speaking during the launch of Heritage Month, under the theme “Celebrating South Africa’s Living Human Treasures”, at Ditsong Cultural Museum in Pretoria on Monday.
The department also unveiled three books in honour of Katrina Esau, a linguist from Upington, Northern Cape; Madosini Latonzi, a musician from Cape Town, Western Cape; and Dr Esther Mahlangu, a painter from KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga for putting the country on the map with their artistry.
Mthethwa said Heritage Day was one of the strategic levers through which to foster social cohesion and nation-building.
“We also have to challenge the stubborn presence of the divisive past, this week, for instance, there’s a big issue about Clicks and what is happening there.”
Clicks came under the spotlight on Friday after a campaign by TRESemmé was posted on their website where an image of African hair was labelled as dry and damaged, while white hair is described as fine and flat.
“We have to confront those things and challenge them. It can’t be allowed,” Mthethwa stressed.
“If there’s something that South Africa must be intolerant of, its the intolerances like racism.”
He said racism was not just prejudiced, but a “very deep pernicious and toxic ideology”.
“It has to be uprooted whenever it rears its ugly head. So, our heritage is who we are and our identity,” he explained.
“If somebody decides to challenge you with the shape of your face, nose, the texture of your hair and so on it’s something we need to liberate those who have white superiority that there’s no such place in this country and we must put all the necessary pressure whenever such intolerances manifest themselves.”
He said colonialism and apartheid created racialised social structures where the heritage and culture of some groups were celebrated, while other group’s existence and their culture was denigrated.
Mthethwa said there must be a difference between the populists who want to rid of everything white and those who want to build a coherent nation.
“The struggle for freedom in this country was not a struggle against white but white superiority and against the system itself,” he added.
Besides, he said, the country was not going to deny its history.
“In this country, there was a [Hendrik] Verwoerd; we must tell the world and ourselves that there was a [John] Vorster, proponents of apartheid.”
He said it is, for this reason, there is going to be a theme park where apartheid leaders will be housed.
“This is where they’re going to be and anyone who wants to see them must see them openly so, under a very clear adage, lest we forget because we must educate the youth today and posterity about our society.”
The Minister also spoke against xenophobia, sexism and chauvinism.
“All intolerances must be fought with similar vigour.”
“If you’re from Africa, you’ll never be a foreigner in any country in Africa,” he said
The Minister highlighted gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), describing it as a threat to social stability.
“GBVF remains a challenge that needs urgent interventions and as part of raising consciousness across society, the department will continue to open platforms wherein dialogues where GBVF can be pursued relentlessly.”
Mthethwa said South Africa also needs to deal with the stereotypes and socialisation of the family.
“A boy and a girl child are given different chores. That’s where you start because you’re instilling a particular understanding of these children and that there are not the same.”
“We’ve got to deal with this myth that the man is the head of the family and that cannot be changed… there are myths we must bust to build a non-sexist society and gender-equal society,” he added. – SAnews.gov.za