Mrs Vee’s Cup of Words

Esther Mahlangu. Photo credit: Burnaway.org - The voice of art in the south

Busi Vilakazi

We just came out of Women’s Month under the theme, The Year of OR Tambo: Women United in Moving South Africa Forward.

The month was about celebrating women and the progress they have made in the labour and business world.

Over the month of August, I have met women who have been doing wonderful things for the community in their own ways – women who have made sacrifices and dedicated their lives to their work.

What saddens me was the little appreciation they receive and the lack of support from our communities.

We now live in times where people even forget a simple “thank you” for what you have done or are doing.

Now, we are in the month of September when we celebrate our heritage.

I ask myself how many of us understand what this month is all about.

What is heritage?

The Center for Heritage & Society, University of Massachusetts described heritage as, “The full range of our inherited traditions, monuments, objects and culture.

Most important is the range of contemporary activities, meanings and behaviours that we draw from them. Heritage includes, but is much more than, preserving, excavating, displaying, or restoring a collection of old things.”

Right, now that we have a definition, I ask myself – why do we only celebrate our deceased legends as part of commemorating our heritage. Why not also celebrate, acknowledge and commend our living legends?

I wonder how much we know of the people who shape our country behind the scenes and are still alive.

The department of Arts and Culture launched a programme called Living Legend Legacy in 2015 (see page…..SANDRA STORY).

This programme is for artists, who are 70 years old and older and have contributed immensely to the country and the world through their art.

Living legends are part of our heritage and we have many in our society who carry so much history with them and we ignore them.

Why I mention Women’s Month first is because we have many ordinary women in our society who have shaped our communities through dance groups, music, and in other ways.

Heritage can be an old person alive today because they are able to share their stories and experiences and events of the past.

This month, let’s recognise the elderly people in our communities, the legends among us.

Mam’ Esther Mahlangu is one such legend.

She managed to preserve the pride of the colourful Ndebele umbhalo (a traditional Ndebele wall painting) and made it popular but has not compromised its meaning.

She is a living heritage. Let’s find more living legends that can tell their stories so we can ensure we continue telling their stories in future and thus preserve our heritage.

#KnowYourHeritage

 

  AUTHOR
Busi Vilakazi

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