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Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Saluting our heritage heroes

Six outstanding artists were honoured at the Heritage Awards held at the ICC in Durban on September 19.

The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Zweli Mkhize, delivered the keynote address to 450 VIPs and the media gathered to recognise six people for their outstanding contribution to the preservation and promotion of South African heritage at the Heritage Awards on September 19 at the ICC. Minister Weziwe Thusi, MEC for Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation; Advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa, CEO of the National Heritage Council, the awardees and the editors of the six titles of Independent Newspapers joined Premier Mkhize in addressing the audience.

“As the provincial government we commend the artists of South Africa. For many years these heroes and heroines enriched the natural, historic and cultural heritage of our country with their innovative and creative spirits,” said Premier Mkhize. “They helped us appreciate our identity, our culture and more importantly they promoted patriotism and instilled a sense of belonging. I take great pleasure in recognising six of these talented South Africans for their outstanding contribution to the preservation and promotion of our heritage.”

The office of the Premier, National Arts Council of South Africa, Business and Arts South Africa, Independent Newspapers and Kizo Art Consultants collaborated in order to select the following awardees: the late Bheki Mseleku for music; the late Alfred Nokwe for theatre; Noria Mabasa for visual arts; Johnny Clegg for social cohesion and music; Nanda Soobben as a cartoonist, animator and arts educator and Jay Pather in the field of dance.

The Heritage Awards cemented its position as one of the highlights of the annual heritage and Celebrate Durban calendar and it is apt that the 2009 awards were hosted at the International Convention Centre at the centre of global recognition.

Gcina Mhlophe was master of ceremonies and Mbongeni Ngema co-ordinated the entertainment. The audience was treated to performances by Gcina Mhlophe, Madala Kunene, Natalie Rungan and isicathamiya band Usuthu. Tu Nokwe and Langa Mseleku delivered moving performances in honour of the late Alfred Nokwe and Bheki Mseleku.

“I am proud to have played a role in taking these awards from their very humble beginnings to what they have become today. It is fitting that such an important project has emanated from KZN, our province that is so rich in culture and heritage,” says Craig Mark, Managing Director, Kizo Art Consultants.

Each awardee was presented with a cast donation from Independent Newspapers and a specially designed heritage lamp designed and made by the crafters at Umcebo Trust.

The Heritage Awards is the gala event in the annual Heritage Arts Festival which this year breaks all previous records, and comprises 23 separate events. A major exhibition is being held at Kizo Art Gallery throughout the season. Curated by resident Kizo curator Nathi Gumede and entitled A Known Heritage, it celebrates the region’s rich multicultural heritage and features internationally acclaimed KZN based artists Sifiso KaMkame, Zamani Makhanya, Thami Jali and Lindelani Ngwenya.

The Heritage Arts Festival has been applauded internationally for its tenacity and diversity – it won a major international award, a Maxi, in the USA last year. This comprehensive collection of exhibitions, workshops, installations, demonstrations, functions and retail opportunities has steadily gained momentum and is now probably the most expansive, multifaceted, exciting, significant and diverse exhibition of visual art and heritage to be held in this province. The Heritage Arts Festival is part of the city’s Celebrate Durban season.