CULTURE

Encouraging dialogue

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In 2002 the United Nations declared 21 May World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

On this day all the peoples of the world are encouraged to join together in sharing their different languages, practices and beliefs. The day is directed at reminding us all that variety and difference do not subtract from, but rather, enrich our collective human story.

This celebration of diversity comes at an opportune moment, in light of the recent inter-group conflict across South Africa. Following various incidents of race-based discrimination and the escalation of xenophobic attacks, 21 May provides not only a moment for reflection, but also an opportunity for all our diverse peoples to cultivate the cultural literacy necessary to oppose homogeneity under majoritarianism.

South Africa is a pluralist society, comprising a rich variety of cultures and ethnicities. Our modern society is the product of international, continental and local influences. All South Africans are enriched by the diversity of our cultural heritage; by the many places of origin, the many faiths practiced, and the many languages spoken. According to our National Development Plan (NDP), “the key to the country’s unity is embracing the reality that all South Africans have many identities, and yet are South African …

Being South African has never been premised on the notion of a melting pot that fuses everybody into some amalgam. With diversity as a foundation, South Africans need to work continually to bring this diversity into unity.”

Klaus Kotze

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