— Rainer Maria Rilke
What do you think of when you hear the word heritage? I know, you think of cultural food, family traditions, tribal clothing, race and home language. But that is not all; you also think of other races, their cultures, food, music, and languages. In South Africa it is hard to think of your own heritage without thinking of the heritage of other races and languages, this diversity is our national heritage. According to the dictionary heritage means “property that is or may be inherited; an inheritance”. This makes a heritage something passed down from generation to generation, something that defines a family, a community, a nation. It can be made better and it can be made worse, depending on its current heirs
We recognise everyone’s uniqueness and difference, and we create the platform for this diversity to blend. Our differences don’t divide us, they unite us and they make us stronger as a nation. Therefore Heritage Day is not just a reminder of who we are, but a celebration of who others are.
Here at PEN it is exactly like that; we are shaped by the unique denominational, cultural, educational and racial diversity of our staff members. The beauty and the brokenness of the City we serve influence us. We have allowed ourselves to be scotched by the sun of our City, and it requires of us to allow God to break and mold us every minute as we see Him in the homeless guy parking cars, as we see Him in the sex worker lurking the streets at night, in a confused and scared pregnant young lady who is worried that she is HIV positive, in vulnerable children left to care for themselves the whole day while their parents are gone to hunt for the next meal to put on the table and the lonely refugee trying to escape a background of hopelessness and death. We are as influenced by the hardworking street vendors, busy taxis, determined and self driven students who left far away homes to be cooked in the tertiary institutions of this City, by the hopeful job seekers who bring great skills and talents to this City, by the beautiful flow in and out of the City from surrounding rural places, townships, and suburbs of Tshwane. We are shaped by the living word of God, which compels us to become His response to the tears and laughter’s of our City. This is the sound of the City, it is a heritage of which we are all stewards and we are committed to handing over a better heritage to the next generation.
Everyone at PEN has a story to tell and all these stories form different chapters of the same book telling one story, “for God so loved the world….” (John 3:16), and that is OUR legacy. It is our different colours that have formed the PEN rainbow shining above our beautiful City of Tshwane, we are different parts of the same body, different instruments of the same Orchestra and every unique instrument is needed to produce a harmonious melody of hope. Puzzles don’t reject one another because they look different; they understand that together their differences complete a perfect picture. We want to leave a dance to this song that we play, we want the whole City to join the dance, the foreigner and the citizen hand in hand; the black, mixed raced and white hand in hand; woman and man hand in hand, dancing to the beautiful music of a celebration of who we are in Christ. Being African is about ubuntu (humanity), it is to understand the saying “motho ke motho ka batho” which is a Sesotho saying that means a person is only a person because of other people.
By Zakhele Mazibuko