Multi-award winning author Professor Zakes Mda says it is important for people to be the custodians of their own heritage, in order for its true meaning to be preserved.
“It is discouraging that the bulk of our heritage is archived in the US and Europe. When people own their own heritage government will not be able to sell it to corporates,” said Prof Mda.
“In the post colony our priority should be to reconstruct our cultural and historical heritage in our own image. Heritage must not be a mere spectacle‚ we need people to own their heritage‚” he added.
He was speaking during the much anticipated Public Lectured entitled; “Unsilencing an Occluded Cultural and Historical Heritage”, which was hosted by the Durban University of Technology (DUT) Writing Centre, Wednesday, 29 August 2018 at the Fred Crookes Sports Centre, Steve Biko Campus in Durban.
Prof Mda bemoaned the lack of access to African cultural artefacts in Africa‚ highlighting many African treasures that were shipped from the continent during colonisation and were now being kept in museums and galleries across Europe and the United States.
“The post colonies have been fighting losing battles for the repatriation of their heritage‚ appropriated by colonial powers without compensation‚” he said.
Prof Mda also cautioned that while we all should endeavour to preserve our culture, but it is important to embrace the reality that culture always goes through mutations. “Cultural interchange is not only influenced by colonialism, but it is influenced by many factors including interactions and trade,” said Prof Mda.
Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu thanked all departments that worked hard towards bringing Prof Mda to DUT, and also welcomed him to DUT.
He said the public lecture is part of the University’s efforts to facilitate engagement, which is one of the University’s DNA strands. “If indeed we are a University that is engaged, we need not only to engage with ourselves within the University. But we need to engage with schools, communities and other sectors of our society in order to shape our country for the better,” said Prof Mthembu.
On behalf of DUT, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Professor Nomthandazo Gwele extended gratitude to Prof Mda for accepting the invitation to deliver his public lecture. “You have fed our minds with wisdom, and we hope that this lecture is one of many lectures that you will deliver at DUT,” she said.
The public lecture was part of DUT Writing Centre’s efforts to inculcate the culture of reading and writing outside disciplines. It was also part of the 2018 Creative Writing Competition, which is a student development initiative for all DUT students with a passion for creative writing.
Pictured: Professor Zakes Mda