This year the WITS Psychology honours students came to celebrate heritage day with IkamvaYouth Gauteng branches namely, Ebony Park and Ivory Park. The partnership that IkamvaYouth Gauteng has with Wits Psychology students started last year when Professor Jude Clark and Professor Jill Bradbury came to celebrate freedom day by organizing an Identity workshop to talk to learners about issues surrounding their identity and how it connects with Freedom Day. Same as last year, the team brought food and games for learners to play. A total number of 120 learners from both branches attended the self-awareness workshop on the 24th of September (Heritage Day) that started from 9am and ended at 16:30pm.
The day started with introductions from the team and some fun getting to know each other games where learners were told to form a circle and throw a piece of their belonging inside the circle, then everyone had to rush in the circle and pick any object that doesn’t belong to them and find the owner of the object to start a conversation with. Learners were grouped and given a facilitator to tackle certain topics. A number of groups were in place and included the following;
- Proudly African
The group was mainly dealing with different cultures that are found in Africa, how they differ to each other and what does it mean as a person to be African. Here the team organized a modelling contest where learners had to wear different cultural clothing to showcase and embrace their culture during presentations.
- Nature’s Beauty “Bontle Ba Naga”
This group was called “Bontle ba naga”, meaning nature’s beauty. The group was mainly focusing on the things that are natural to the world and how people use this to their advantage as one learner mentioned a Mopane tree that produces Mopane worms which are regarded as food by many individuals.
- My Culture my Identity
This group celebrate heritage by learning different languages that are spoken and the way people sing and dance. They also touched on how a person forgets their culture and adopt other cultures or implements their own culture like that of “skhothanes” where young individuals wear expensive clothes to express their identity.
The group also discussed the negative and positive impacts of heritage where they mentioned initiation schools as a negative impact because some people open initiation schools for business without the necessary skills needed. The second negative impact was that of beliefs. The group mentioned that often people confuse ancestors with God. They clearly state that it is a negative because it courses conflict between cultures or people. The positive impact was based on respect, where the group was comparing the modern individuals to the individuals who lived in the olden days. They argued that the modern individuals lack respect compared to those of the past. “Back then children used to cook like their mothers, but now they drink like their fathers” said a grade 10 learner Moraka Dlamini. They mentioned that girls back then used to keep their virginity before marriage or for longer compared to the modern ones.
- Urban African
Here the group talked about initiation schools and marriages where different marriage rules are analysed and compared with other cultures. They gave an example of when a woman hasn’t been initiated will be regarded as a child by other woman who went to initiation schools.
During presentations learners were asked what they thought of heritage day. Thabo Nkgweng said “heritage day tells us about the important things that our ancestors and elders left for us to inherit”.
Throughout the day learners learned that Heritage day is not only celebrated in South Africa but throughout the world. Also they learned that heritage day reminds people where they came from and who they are.