The government has set aside R34-million to fly the South African flag at every school and to teach South Africans how to sing the national anthem in an effort to forge national identity and unity.
Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa told journalists on Thursday that it was imperative that South Africans know who they are and know their national anthem.
“Any nation should have an identity; it shouldn’t be seen as some conspiracy theory.” He added that all developed nations had encouraged citizens to associate with national signs and symbols.
“We must encourage people to know those things which are meant to unite the country to have that oneness as a nation,” he said.
Mthethwa’s deputy Rejoice Mabudafhasi said the campaign to install flags at schools started last month when they installed a flag at a training college and a primary school in Kimberley, in the Northern Cape.
“We are quite aware that our youth don’t know the history of this country, especially how it came about that we got freedom. Now we have got these flags but they cannot analyse the colours, it is just something that is beautiful.
“Every school should fly the South African flag and we have identified that we are going to install 22 193 flags around the country,” she added.
Integration into the school curriculum
Mabudafhasi explained that school children throughout the country don’t know the appropriate stance to take when singing the anthem.
There will also be publications of the national symbols and CDs to teach people how to sing the national anthem correctly.
Mabudafhasi said facilitators and educators will be sent to schools around the country to integrate arts and culture into the curriculum.
Meanwhile, Mthethwa revealed that government was planning to develop a Heroes’ Acre to honour heroes of the anti-apartheid struggle, to protect the country’s cultural heritage and ensure history was no longer taught from a colonial perspective.
“The point we are making is that the heroes of our struggle, the struggle of our people, what led us to 1994, should be part of the Heroes’ Acre.”
“We are not going to have heroes who were colonisers; we want people to look at South Africa not from the lenses of our colonisers.”
Mthethwa said the story of the country and continent has been written by the colonisers, “so we are correcting it, we can’t leave it as is, because there has been a lot of distortion”. He said the Heroes’ Acre would be able to offer the full history of South Africa from the pre-colonial era right through to the anti-apartheid struggle.
Symbols of the past to remain
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema will be disappointed to learn that the statue of the first prime minister of the Union of South Africa, Louis Botha, at the gates of Parliament, will not be removed.
Malema called for the removal of the statue when he made his maiden speech in Parliament last month, saying that it represents backwardness and apartheid and therefore belongs to “the dustbin of history”.
“There will be no removing of the symbols of the past; those symbols are part of our history, part of us as a nation. We may be uncomfortable with some of them, but what kind of nation would want to forget where we come from?” said Mthethwa.