While the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) marked Heritage Day in South Africa yesterday calling for a removal of Die Stem from South Africa’s national anthem, and for the renaming of the Kruger National Park, the ANC’s Cyril Ramaphosa spoke of reconnecting all South Africans, black and white.
In the statement, published on their website yesterday, the EFF claimed that “Die Stem is a heritage of oppression and indignity. It is a song of oppressors, racists and mass murderers. Nkosi Sikelela must be sang in the same way as our people did when they were praying for a land free from oppression during colonial and apartheid years. National anthems are songs of collective pride and we cannot be proud of the songs of mass murderous regimes.”
The EFF also called for the removal of all “colonial and apartheid symbols” particularly the statue of Louis Botha and Queen Victoria in parliament.
They also insisted that the Kruger National park should be renamed “because Kruger was a colonial racist who engineered and presided over the Boer Republic that was a foundation for apartheid systems…
“If South African heritage is to be given any dignity land must be redistributed and all colonial and apartheid symbols must fall.”
The EFF accused colonialism of attempting to distort and create a narrative in the “natives mind” that without colonialism “natives would degenerate into barbarism”.
However, the EFF said, colonialism has failed to crush the African spirit in the fields of its musical, artistic and language expressions.
“Here, we have always found a way to testify that colonialism did not create everything good about Africa and its people,” said the statement.
In his National Heritage Day speech yesterday, Acting President Cyril Ramaphosa, said this day should reconnect all South Africans, black and white to the country’s rich and diverse collective heritage.
He pointed out that the Kings and Queens who reigned all over the country in the past are the ones who made sure that those who are alive today do carry forward their heritage.
“They made sure that we preserve our languages, our song and dance. The performances that we witnessed today are what our Kings and Queens preserved for us. The wanted us to inherit the song and dance,” he said.
The EFF said that they celebrate the rock art paintings of the Khoi and San and called for a recognition of the Nama language as an official language.
The EFF condemned the celebration of Heritage Day without the land issue being resolved and said that “our people” continue to live “like visitors in the land of their birth”, adding that “a people without land is a people without a future.”
Ramaphosa said that Heritage Day reminds South Africans of the pain and suffering brought by migration, and reminds the country of the white compatriots who defied law and justice during apartheid times.
“When we recall the pain and suffering of Afrikaaner women and children, and many African families… we say their pain is our pain, and their loss is our collective loss,” he said.
Acting President Ramaphosa said it is impossible to ignore the contradiction of the South African past.
“We are the children of the oppressors, and the children of the oppressed. But we are united today by the rejection of our past and the injustices that define our past, and our determination that never again shall one be oppressed by another,” he said.
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