‘World Heritage Day is celebrated on the 18th day of April every year. In 1982, a symposium organized by the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in Tunisia proposed observing an “International Day for Monuments and Sites” across the world. The proposal for an annual day was then approved by the UNESCO general conference in November 1983 that April 18 should be declared the International Monuments and Sites Day. The day is traditionally called the ‘World Heritage Day.

World Heritage Day

The calls were made for a celebration of an “International Day for Monuments and Sites” all over the world. The idea picked up the pace and the committee approved the suggestion. The proposal then moved to UNESCO General Conference where a resolution was passed in November 1983.      

This special day is dedicated to world heritage offered an opportunity to raise public awareness about natural and cultural heritage. World Heritage day celebrates the diversity of heritage throughout the world.

World Heritage Day Slogans Poster


World Heritage Day Poems Speech

Poem on World Heritage Day

1. Speak to the lands,
they are awaiting your call,
your recognition of respect
for your ancient land.
Reward those with your thoughts:
those who had planted the seed,
nurtured the harvest of your being;
celebrate your heritage.
Call together your children,
and their children, on this day.
Share with them the lands of their pasts;
feast with them on the knowledge of preservation!

2. Wrapped in the term regeneration
Yet with the city’s falling population
It does nothing to address our real housing need
For the driving force for this is greed
And while the ink on one application’s still damp
The next one’s there for the rubber stamp
To keep adding more common sense can’t deny
We are building ghost towns in the sky

World Heritage Day Speech


I would like to start off by thanking Councillor Mabasa for inviting me to be part of this year’s heritage month commemoration. Often as South Africans, we get into a celebratory mood on the 24 September of each year by remembering the cultural heritage of the many cultures that make up our population.

You will agree with me that culture is not something we are born with. It is learned from family, school, religious teachings, and nowadays through television and other media. Indeed issues of culture and heritage are with us 365 days a year. Issues of heritage and culture are the cornerstone of nation-building. A child is born into a cultural setting, with a rich heritage which, through the process of parenting and socialization shapes her/his well-being throughout the stages of life. Our culture instills in our norms and standards of relating towards each other and behaving in society as a whole. It shapes our identities as well. We all remember what Stata Nelson Mandela said when he addressed parliament in Cape Town on 05 February 1999, he called for the reconstruction of the soul of the nation, “the RDP of the Soul: by this we mean first and foremost respect for life; pride and self-respect as South Africans rather than the notion that we can thrive in senseless self-flagellation.”

I believe he said this in realizing that in reality there is a mismatch of what our culture teaches us versus our behaviors as a society.

Heritage Month

You will recall that Minister Nathi Mthethwa launched Heritage Month 2014 in Gauteng on 31 August under the theme: “Celebrating 20 Years of Democracy: Tell Your Story that Moves South Africa Forward”. Key among the projects identified to advance the “Tell Your Story” campaign is the reburials of Nat Nakasa and Moses Kotane. These repatriations of unsung heroes provide us with an opportunity to learn more about their personal struggles, the circumstances that led to them living in exile, and the impact they had on the liberation of our country.

Other events included National Book Week which runs from 1 to 7 September under the theme: “Going Places” focusing on the power of books and how they can ‘figuratively’ and ‘literally’ take South Africans to places. Events were organized in all the provinces and they included reading in indigenous languages, storytelling and motivational talks, word-a-thons, poetry sessions, and book debates.

Our unique Heritage Month commemoration recognizes aspects of our culture which are both tangible and intangible. These include creative expression such as music and performances, our historical inheritance, language, the food we eat as well as the popular memory.

Various heritage sites and infrastructures in South Africa are named after the liberation struggle icons, e.g. here in Gauteng we have:

•Luthuli House in Gauteng

•Tshwane Municipality in Gauteng

As a country, we are home to eight of the 981 World Heritage Sites which are recognized by the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation as places of outstanding cultural and historical importance.

Some of these sites are:

•Robben Island

•The hominid sites at Swartkrans, Sterkfontein and Kromdraai (known as the Cradle of Humankind)

•Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park (mixed natural and cultural)

•Mapungubwe Heritage Site

•Cape Floral Kingdom

•Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape.

•Vredefort Dome.

These sites should teach us the values that we should embrace as encapsulated in our constitution and our value system as a country. Our country offers diversity and an abundance of cultural and natural values that encapsulate the value systems of the country.

In addition to these sites, the country has 17 national heritage sites and the country is taking steps to protect more of its heritage sites. Some of the national heritage sites which fall within Gauteng are:

•Cradle of Human Kind – this is found in the northwest of Gauteng and has produced more fossils of our ancestors and their early relatives.

•Constitution Hill – this is the home to South Africa’s Constitutional Court and also the site of the notorious Old Fort Prison Complex. It was at this place that thousands of people were brutally punished before the start of democracy in 1994.

•The Freedom Park – this is the meeting place for the gathering of clans and nations. This is a place to listen to the voice of silence, a place to pray, a sacred place, a step to the heavens and to our humanity. This is a memorial and sanctuary conceptualized to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for human rights and their country during South Africa’s turbulent history.

We are informed that the government is in the process of declaring another historic place in the history of South Africa, Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, a heritage site.

Speaking at the 50th commemoration of the Liliesleaf Farm raid by the apartheid police President Jacob Zuma said preserving the site would contribute to the on-going process of national healing and the building of a more cohesive society.

During the commemoration, President Zuma said it’s our joint responsibility to tell the story of the farm. “We all have a responsibility to ensure that the story of Liliesleaf and the Rivonia Trial is told in full for the benefit of current and future generations and that to ensure that the ideas born on this farm live forever”.

Let us all join in and help preserve and spread awareness of our heritage resources. They are not just symbols of our past, but they are the foundation for our future as well.

The power of a belief system and values in having an impact on a broader scale cannot be ignored or underestimated. The youth of 1976 through the leadership of people such as Hector Peterson defended the education system of the time and fought for quality education. Today we have monuments these heroes who set a trend in the whole world.

Today we are witnesses of this trend that children should not be subject to poor education. As a country, we have a good story to tell about our education system. Education in this country receives the lion’s share of South Africa’s national Budget. Twenty percent of government expenditure for the 2014/15 financial year has been allocated to education, and this amounts to R254-billion.

During a media briefing to launch the FIFA World Cup Legacy Trust, the president said: “We want the children of Africa to remember the first Soccer World Cup on African soil as one that planted seeds of true universal access to education and a better life”.

The Schools Connectivity Project has been identified as one of the legacy projects of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Project. This project came about from the savings derived by Telkom for the 2010 World Cup. As such the savings were used to connect 1650 schools. The savings amounted to R374.2m. This one of the key projects driven by my department, the Department of Telecommunications & Postal Services.

A lesson can be learned from a young education activist and a 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. At the age of 17 years, she is already in the ranks of the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Tata Nelson Mandela. She triumphed from a specific cultural context that embroiled certain values. Against all odds, she managed to stand out and showed extraordinary courage, and continues to inspire hope in the lives of other young girls. She openly objected to gender inequality and women’s oppression; and advocated for young girls’ rights to education. She even got to a point where she was shot in a school bus for being vocal about issues that affected young girls and the right to equal chance to education as the boy’s counterparts.

Our youth should not be subject to the negative image they are been portrayed with, alcohol abuse, substance abuse, and exposure to risk. As a nation, we ought to learn from other cultures, look at our fellow Indian communities. They have been here for the past 150 years but in no way has their culture been diluted or influenced by our varied cultures. If you look at their education system, their houses of faith, and their work ethic; they stick to their tradition throughout and that is the reason why they are successful.

South Africa has been called the rainbow nation because it is made up of so many diverse cultures. Our own culture must be used to pursue reconciliation and social justice. Through our culture and religion, we can amend the past social ills. We all know that in the past the colonial laws highly prejudiced our cultures and as a result, they are now still underdeveloped.

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