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As South Africa commemorated Heritage Day on Sept. 24, Deputy President Paul Mashatile urged citizens to reconnect with their roots and celebrate diversity.

Under the theme of "Celebrating our cultural diversity in a democratic South Africa," the deputy president delivered a speech at Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaZulu-Natal Province on Sunday.

He explained that the theme highlights South Africa's rich and diverse cultural heritage that incorporates various cultures and traditions including African, Asian and European.

"The preamble of the 1996 Constitution reminds us that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity, and calls upon us to heal past divisions and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights," he said, SA News reported.

The deputy president recalled that South Africa had a painful past due to colonialism and apartheid. However, he praised how the country won against oppressive regimes.

Dutch Colonialism happened in 1652 while British Colonialism took over in 1795. Apartheid system was introduced in 1948 by the National Party - this system was to enforce racial segregation and discrimination.

This system ended in late 20th century when Nelson Mandela became the first black president in 1994.

"Ours is a unique history that has inspired many nations towards embracing unity and diversity, and showing that difference can be a platform for development and not destruction and divisions," he said.

He explained that South Africa has "emerged from centuries of colonialism and apartheid that ensured that social groups were hierarchically graded, and that some had a heritage that was not freely appreciated and promoted."

Considering the painful past, the deputy president noted that it is important to recognize, rehumanize and celebrate the significance of diverse living heritage and protect the future generations.

"We are here to acknowledge and celebrate South Africa's diverse heritage, which is being showcased and highlighted throughout September," he said. "Heritage Month holds immense cultural significance in South Africa, as it provides a platform for communities to celebrate and display their unique traditions, customs and languages."

He explained that this celebration of cultural diversity not only strengthens the identities of various communities but also helps to preserve and promote their heritage for future generations.

"It provides an opportunity for our people to reconnect with their roots, honour their ancestors, and pass on important cultural practices and values," he concluded.

Last week, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa urged creative professionals to take a step forward to tell cultural stories for future generations about the past and present of the country.