Deputy Minister speaks at the lunch of Forgotten World at the Origins Centre, Johannesburg

Read the speach of Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla at the launch of Forgotten World – the stone-walled settlemenst of Mpumalanaga. He is deputy minister of Correctional Services and previously premier of Mpumalanga. He was instrumental in the realisation of this book.

Date: 26 November 2014
Event: Forgotten World Book Launch


As someone who was largely moulded by resistance politics and who had a fair exposure to the struggle’s political education, I made over time an uncomfortable observation that our liberation struggle literature has a Hiatus which seems to suggest that South Africa has no history outside the epoch of her colonial subjugation by both the Dutch and British European nations. This omission in our broad liberation literature, I have come to understand it as a consequence of what constituted the main problem our liberation struggle primarily sought to address – which is “ What we stand for, what our vision and hopes are – and what programmes we adopt to make our lives worth living”, as the former President Thabo Mbeki said in his address at the University of Havana Cuba, 27 March 2001. The other questions of who we are and how we do things, were in the order of priorities of that struggle relegated to the back burner, thereby allowing, unintentionally, the racist ideological bigotry of forcing people to renounce their cultures, languages, beliefs and identity to linger on.

I am possibly among the last people in the community of our public servants to have the privilege of visiting China. One very enduring experience of my visit to China is the big place the Chinese accord their national heritage and culture. Their collective memory of who they are and where they come from as a people, and how that is interwoven with their national pursuits today, and informs everything they plan to achieve in the future, is inspirational and mind-boggling. Our limited understanding of who we are as South Africans in the context of the evolution and development of human societies is an enormous handicap. But today, through collaboration of different disciplines and the advancement of science, we can fill this void of knowledge and memory. The team of researchers who were coordinated by Dr. Delius to go into the “history and heritage of Mpumalanga” were clear at the completion of their assignment that it was only laying a basis for much more intense work still to be done in a host of areas of the disciplines that were coordinated in this project.

It gives me great pleasure and inspiration that his evening we are here to celebrate the hard work and staying power of those who decided to remain continuously seized with this challenge. To me they are in a big, but modest way our heroes of labour – intellectual labour. The stone-walled settlements of the Mpumalanga escapement, like all other huge heritage and history puzzles which suffer neglect and those still to be discovered are a legitimate responsibility of our government to explore, research, reconstruct and preserve. Government must provide leadership in what should be a national endeavor in this sector.

The stone – walled settlement of Mpumalanga are not only important to Mpumalanga as a province, but to South Africa as a country and South Africa as a society. As for me personally speaking as a cadre who comes from the ranks of the governing party, I have a feeling that we are running out of time in tackling some of these overwhelming challenges, which must lay the foundation of the remaking of our society.

Once again, congratulations to the authors.

I thank you.