Our Perspective on the State of Heritage Preservation in South Africa


Living in the 21st century, in a country as diverse as South Africa’s, there is an increasing importance placed on our societal and community well-being, as it gives us a sense of belonging and identity. Understanding and honouring where we come from is an important part of this very well-being. For as we well know, you cannot know where you are going until you know

where you come from. This lends itself to one simple term: “past”.

We explore the state of heritage preservation in South Africa. First by defining heritage, then by examining the South African “past” we speak of and then by discussing how our heritage as we know it, has and can continue to be preserved.


Heritage can be defined as: “features belonging to the culture of a particular society, such as traditions, languages, or buildings, that were created in the past and still have historical importance.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary. However, in a South African context, this term may encompass an array of things such as past events, practices and customs, monuments and objects and a rich history. For many, heritage in through a South African lens is mostly associated with rural identies and rural customs. To some extent, this is true, but if we are to say that past events form part of heritage we then need to acknowledge that urban areas played a greater role in the construction of the South African heritage. (list events in South Africa that happened in Urban Areas). This brings us to the South African History.

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