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City hosts prestigious awards

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Eighteen finalists were selected from dozens of nominees across the wide spectrum of South Africa’s diverse communities

Picture: Danie van der Lith

SOUTH Africa’s most luminous champions of culture and heritage descended upon the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre in Kimberley on the weekend to celebrate the annual Golden Shield Heritage Awards.

Held under the auspices of the National Heritage Council (NHC) of South Africa, in partnership with the Sol Plaatje Municipality and the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, the aim is to promote the country’s national heritage and acknowledge its role in social cohesion and community development.

Eighteen finalists were selected from dozens of nominees across the wide spectrum of South Africa’s diverse communities.

Some of the highlights of the event were the announcement of this year’s Lifetime Achiever Award, which was bestowed upon Dr Mongane Wally Serote in recognition of his outstanding and lasting contribution to the heritage profession over a significant period of time.

Dr Serote is a South African poet and writer. He became involved in political resistance to the apartheid government in 1969. He subsequently spent years in exile, working in Botswana and later London, England, before eventually returning to South Africa in 1990.

One of his highest achievements was his leadership in conceptualising and establishing the flagship legacy heritage interpretation facility known as Freedom Park in Pretoria. The facility attracts visitors from abroad and nationally to learn about the complete freedom struggle of South Africa. This initiative is a disruptor in the heritage landscape and will remain relevant for many future generations.

The National Living Treasure Award, which recognises individuals who have promoted and advocated the significance or revival of intangible cultural heritage over a number of years, was awarded to jazz legend Jonas Gwangwa as well as the Xitshonga cultural heritage icon and musician, Dr Thomas Chauke.

“As we’re celebrating Heritage Month and the hard work of our nation united in diversity, we honour and recognise the contributions of individuals and organisations who protect the heritage of our African soil. They are indeed the champions of our heritage,” the MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture, Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, said during the awards.

Nontsikelelo Biko (Ubuntu Honours), the Lesseyton Methodist Church (Best Community Project), and Bishop Makobe Makope (Academic Excellence) were but some of the recipients on the evening.

The Big Hole in Kimberly, a tourism landmark that is known across the world, received recognition as the most preferred heritage destination for its preservation of the history of diamond mining as well as its educational Diamond World Centre, which takes visitors through the process of mining and preparing the world’s most-loved precious stones.

Poet and performance artist Lebo Mashile deftly led the evening’s proceedings alongside Northern Cape-based MC and comedian, Mark my Words.

Celebrated vocalist, Lira, performed along with a bevy of Kimberley-based artists, including the talented Khoi dance group, the Bailombo Dans Group.

This event is an annual highlight on the national cultural calendar and is well attended by government leaders, traditional healers, arts and culture enthusiasts and members of the community.

The winners in the various categories were announced as follows:

National Living Treasure – Thomas Chauke

Preferred Heritage Destination – The Big Hole Kimberley

Young Heritage Activist – Tsholofelo Masetshaba Mosala

Academic Excellence – Bishop Mokobe

Voice of Heritage – Naledzani Elisa Netshirembe

Heritage Corporate Citizen – Phillip Tshepo Matlhoko

Liberation Heritage Steward – Tiego Shametsa

Heritage Education – Bathandwa Kwababa

Best Community Project – Lesseyton Methodist Church

Ubuntu Awards – Nontsikelelo Biko

Lifetime Achievement Awards – Dr Mongane Wally Serote