To some, the rainbow nation may be as elusive as unicorns, but for South Africans who have known, and still know struggle, it’s the very reason we embrace and live the country’s democratic values everyday.
ALI Fellows are part of this patriotic nation who observe and celebrate Heritage Month (September) for the monumental national milestone that it is. During September (and throughout the year) South Africans are encouraged to, amongst others, promote the access of South Africa’s cultural and heritage institutions, to continue with a national process of uniting all South Africans as people of one nation irrespective of race, creed, and orientation and to create a platform for communities to showcase different aspects of South Africa’s diverse heritage.
The first official Heritage Day in 1996 was marked with these words by former South African President, Nelson Mandela:
“When our first democratically elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation.
“We did so knowing that the struggles against the injustice and inequities of the past are part of our national identity; they are part of our culture. We knew that, if indeed our nation has to rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes of division and conflict, we had to acknowledge those whose selfless efforts and talents were dedicated to this goal of non-racial democracy.”
These profound words resonate with every single ALI Fellow as it embodies the values this leadership platform strives for. ALI believes in the foundation of letting integrity lead and knows that a society of integrity will never be divided by race, creed, beliefs, traditions or anything else for that matter.
As South Africa celebrates and recognises Heritage Month, ALI and its Fellows would like to encourage the promotion (from your own spaces) of cultural diversity, social cohesion, reconciliation, peace and economic development.