e’Bosch Heritage Project“Working together for a sustainable future heritage”

Heritage Day on 24 September is the annual call for South Africans to come forth and boast of their cultural heritage and unique richness of history which all contribute towards the building blocks of our Rainbow Nation.

e’Bosch, having been established to propagate the beautiful reconciliatory nature of South Africans celebrating their own cultures as well as collectively honouring the diversity in other cultures – sees the Heritage Day Festival as a day for communities to strengthen their relationships with one another whilst building bridges of a collective, inclusive Stellenbosch identity.

According to Johann Murray, the Project Manager, since being founded in 2011, e’Bosch has made waves of progress towards reaching the NPO’s goals of enhancing inter-community familiarity and integration which harnesses social cohesion amongst the various communities in and near Stellenbosch. Johann told of the story which illuminated the need of reconciliation amongst the neighbourhoods (called ‘dorpies’) of Stellenbosch which took place eight years ago. The story recalls a joint meeting between various community members from Cloetesville, Kayamandi, Central Stellenbosch, and other dorpies on 11 May 2011. During that meeting, an elderly man from Kayamandi expressed that despite decades of living in Stellenbosch, he did not feel welcome, nor at home in this town. His experience of pain begged the question of why South Africans should celebrate Heritage Day when their presence was still so plagued by the pain of the past. At that point, a university student stood up and stated that, despite only living and studying in Stellenbosch for four years, Stellenbosch had grown into his own heritage.

The eye-contact between these men illuminated the need for reconciliation, but, most importantly, sowed the seed to inspire e’Boschs’ mandate of working towards achieving this much-needed reconciliation. The road which e’Bosch has travelled with these dorpies shows that a degree of familiarity and integration has been achieved.

Fast track to the present, e’Bosch hosted its seventh consecutive Heritage Day Festival in partnership with Nedbank as a 2018 sponsor and partner. As a result of many “dorpies” having their own heritage events on 24 September, a need for getting the “best of the dorpies” together on the last Saturday of the month, hence, a Festival of Talents, where born. Hosted on Saturday 29 September 2018, at the Jan Marais Nature Reserve, the event included a wide range of activities for the families that attended, which included: a Zumba session for the mamas and tannies; jumping castle for the kiddies; labyrinth walk for the nature lovers; arts, craft and jewelry stalls for those that had cash to spend and irresistible assortment of Cape cuisines which boasted the aroma of South Africa’s diversity.

The public in attendance was merry and jovial, singing and clapping along with the songs they knew and laughed out heartily at the jokes of local comedians and enjoying the good weather, good music, and good people. Lizelle Moses, a resident and community member of and representative of the Stellenbosch Traffic Department was there to increase road safety awareness and build a stronger relationship of trust with the community members.

A total of 21 performers set the mood to groove with their excellent pieces which they shared with the audience. Amongst the performers were a Riel dance group performing one of the oldest dances in the world, Cloetesville dancing group, YDC, showed how they use dance to escape the life of crime and gangsterism in their neighbourhood. Meraki, a local band led by Leonard Simmers from Cloetesville and Stellenbosch B-Boys – a band with members from Eerste River, Lynedoch and Stellenbosch who have appeared on international stages, also entertained the audience.

Mynhardt Kruger, a Stellenbosch University alumnus who has spent months singing in Italian and Spanish productions abroad, delivered a joyful and heartfelt performance, which followed the soulful jazz performance of Marthie Nel Hauptfleisch who soothed the audience with her songs in preparation of extraordinary performance from young Toby De Ruiter from Cloetesville and pupil at Rietenbosch Primary School. Contrary to his age of 12, Toby blew the audience away with his old-soul-old-school per- formance of legendary love songs.  Toby shared that he had begun singing at the age of 6 in his church and school choir where he received encouragement from his grandmother and choir instructor. As a resident of Cloetesville, Toby described his neighbourhood as “a bit rough” and recognised that the e’Bosch Heritage Day Festival helped people to come out from their rough neighbourhood to enjoy each other’s company. For the kids, Toby said such events helped them grow up – I assume in a positive way. When I asked the young singer what he sought to achieve through his singing, Toby responded that he wanted his singing to inspire his peers and the younger children of his community and those in attendance.

Sonya Olivier, the representative of Ranyaka Community Transformation, a NGO in partnership with e’Bosch and Nedbank, praised the Festival to be “brilliant” and performances, “top-notch”. Ranyaka’s mandate is centered on uplifting and equipping communities by facilitating intra-community collaboration for the development of those communities. Sonya noted that Ranyaka and e’Bosch’s relationship was established and is sustained because of the congruence of their visions. The e’Bosch Heritage Project’s Festival has achieved much and still has so much more potential, Sonya said. With more attendance from Stellenbosch white residents and SU students, Sonya stated that such an event could have an even wider impact.

Jan Marais Nature Reserve – the location of the Festival – offered the children in attendance freedom of adventure and in the secure environment and supervision of adults and volunteers. With a history of racial exclusivity- reserved solely for white residents of inner-Stellenbosch, Porchia Adams, a member of the e’Bosch Marketing Team shared her personal history how Jan Marais Nature Reserve in her young days was not open to the coloured and black residents of periphery neighbourhoods to Stellenbosch. She proudly noted how the Heritage Day Festival tackled this issue by hosting such an inter-communal day of celebration and leisure. Though exclusion in the past had been racially based, today financial circumstances act as a barrier for the broader communities of Klapmuts, Cloetesville, Kayamandi and others, to access for such an event, hosted in the heart of Stellenbosch. With this observation, Porchia hopes that in the future, residents will be bussed in order to limit or eliminate financial obstacles that may have prevented some families from participating in this year’s Festival.

Concluding remarks came from Oliver Chikodzore, an entrepreneur and investor in businesses, agriculture, and other sectors as well as a writer for the Stellenbosch Magazine; he remarked that the Festival had been “a great success”, however, with much room to grow. Oliver, who dedicates his efforts in stimulating the people of this continent through his community service contributions, believes that culture and heritage should be preserved and celebrated. Adding that “we should be thankful, respectful, build good relationships and live a significant life” in which culture, history, and integration of diverse people play an integral role in doing so.

“I was impressed with what we achieved on Saturday,” Oliver stated whilst expressing his gratitude for having been involved as a stakeholder in such an initiative. For the following year, the experienced entrepreneur and event organiser said he hoped for a bigger turnout which will continue to make a difference in the communities of Stellenbosch.

The 2018 e’Bosch Heritage Project has achieved what it had set out to do: that is, building bridges of inter-community relationships that will further strengthen the inclusivity of Stellenbosch and enhance integration and tolerance. Throughout the day, one could not escape the contagious smiles, the laughter accompanied by clapping of hands as the expression of joy, peace, and leisure. The Heritage Day Festival brought diverse people to honour each other’s cultural difference but most importantly allowed community members to celebrate and fellowship around the common things they shared. That being: a love for food, for music and entertainment and a shared sense of freedom and dignity.

The Heritage Month Festivities show that South Africans have not walked the walk of reconciliation in vain but have and are building a cornerstone foundation for the future generations which will be the future agents of change, community transformers and builders of a healed and great nation.

All those who attended the Festival of Talents agreed that they greatly appreciated the diversity encapsulated by the e’Bosch Festival. At the end of the day, we all wait in great expectation for the 2019 Heritage Month Festivities!

Find more about e’Bosch Heritage Project: www.ebosch.co.za

Author: Zintle Magazi

Final year BA International Studies student at Stellenbosch University, majoring in History and Political Science 2018. Zintle Magazi is also an aspiring young entrepreneur and future human rights advocate.