Thursday, September 20, 2012

Commissioner Zulu on heritage, culture and the media

Nomfundo Mgabadeli

Professor Nogwaja Shadrack Zulu visited the Journalism department yesterday for a thought provoking talk on culture, language and the media. He is part of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural Religious and Linguistic Communities and a lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In the beginning of his speech he spoke about the current state of the media.

Commissioner Zulu listening to comments from the audience 
“There are papers that I buy that are interested in headlines, there’s an act that’s developing, and we are reading these tabloids with big personalities. Some of the stories about the farm people who are working in farms that are still oppressed by these farmers, nobody talks about them, nobody, it doesn’t exist in the media.”

He preached about the importance of a person’s right to privacy and dignity referring to the revealing now defaced painting of President Jacob Zuma and the current case on the topless pictures of the Dutchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton. He emphasised the need for a balance in our democracy and a responsibility to each citizen not to abuse the rights enshrined in our constitution.

On the topic of language, he didn’t believe indigenous languages are facing any form of threat or challenge by virtue of the first newspaper being written in an African language and the first English newspaper being written by a native South African and the arrival of John Dube with his paper, iLanga laseNatal. But he did note the colonisation of South Africa has played a role in how we view and perceive our language and heritage.

He concluded by stating the need for people to understand that South Africa does not have one culture, instead it is a diverse country with different heritage, religions, colours and cultures. And not just in South Africa but Africa as a whole.

“We are connected, we are one because we are South Africans, we are the same and we are all human.”

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