SADC ministers convene for the African liberation heritage summit

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By Ranga Mataire

In an effort to immortalise the history of the liberation struggle in southern Africa, the South African Ministry of Arts and Culture in partnership with the National Heritage Council hosted the inaugural Southern African Development Community (SADC) ministerial roundtable on the African liberation heritage this week in Pretoria.

In a statement, South Africa’s Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, said the roundtable was held under the theme: “Roads to Independence: The African Liberation Heritage - Towards An Integrated SADC Road Map to Africa we want”.

Mthethwa said the roundtable was aimed at bringing together ministers of arts and culture, senior government officials and technical experts from the region to deliberate on the best strategy to effectively achieve the implementation of the African Liberation Heritage Programme (ALHP) as a collective.

The meeting was in line with the bilateral meeting held between Mthethwa and the former minister of information, culture and sports in Tanzania, Nape Nnaure, in November 2016, where it was agreed that the SADC ministerial roundtable discussion will seek to reinvigorate inclusive integrated planning on the implementation of the ALHP.

 Convened by Tanzania, the main task of the ALHP was to identify, preserve, commemorate and document the common African liberation struggle history and memory to ensure that the current and future generations know about the collective fight for the continent’s independence and development.

Chief executive of the National Heritage Council of South Africa, Advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa, said: “We should not allow our liberation heritage to decay due to unrecorded history, as our country has faced a number of liberation struggle epochs which were mainly characterised by resistance battles, wars of dispossession, apartheid and the modern-day freedom struggle.”

'Roads to lndependence in Africa: The African liberation Heritage' is a multi-country programme initiated by Tanzania in collaboration with African Union (AU) member countries and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO).

The programme includes the construction of a museum, library and archives and aims at recognising the spirit of solidarity and cooperation amongst Africans in the context of the liberation movements.

It is an acknowledgement of the importance of liberation movements to the process of decolonisation of the continent as well as the role played by Tanzania in providing material and moral support to the liberation movements which led to the struggle for independence in Southern Africa.

The African Liberation Heritage programme is informed by the realisation that unless it is collected, documented and made accessible to the public. The programme’s main mandate is to document and to recognise the contribution of people and institutions to the liberation of the continent.

Many of the personalities who were instrumental in the liberation struggles are no longer alive and those who are still alive have not documented their experiences in detail. There is a gap due to a lack of transmission of information and knowledge to the young generation. This programme can serve as a vehicle to bridge that information and knowledge gap.

The formulation of the programme was spearheaded by Tanzania within the context of UNESCO. The programme forms an important part of the Dialogue of Civilisations which is an initiative to appreciate the significance of intercultural exchanges and the multi-cultural heritage of humanity.

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