#UPHeritageMonth: Message from the Vice-Chancellor

Posted on September 23, 2021

South Africa has rich sources of cultural, living and natural heritage that are highlighted throughout the month of September. Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the diverse histories and cultures that unite South Africans, and is a time to take stock of the most unique facet of our country’s history: that many diverse groups of people work together, live together and have a shared identity as South Africans. South Africa’s motto is “ǃke e: ǀxarra ǁke”, or “unity in diversity”.

This year, the University of Pretoria (UP) celebrates two years of having created a new platform to bring South Africa’s history and art to a wide audience. The Javett-UP Art Centre is where UP’s art professionals, academics and students will conserve and preserve local art, historical and heritage treasures.

It is a hub that helps South Africans connect established histories, cultures and artworks with emerging artists. Work by our students will be on display. Artworks with a contemporary twist help South Africans to better understand and engage with our history and social issues. The Javett-UP Art Centre takes our art to the world and brings the world’s art to South Africa. It is a place where the past and the future of art and heritage collections merge to enable people to engage with a diversity of cultural beauty. For instance, our impressive Mapungubwe collection has found a home at Javett-UP. The collection, of which the iconic golden rhino is indicative of, will help the public develop a new understanding of the sophisticated technology and artistry that pre-colonial Southern Africa practised.

This Heritage Month, as we celebrate the strides we’ve made with Javett-UP, we can look forward to new beginnings and deeper understandings of the multiplicities of South African art, culture and history. As more and more South Africans get vaccinated, our artistic and heritage sites will once more be able to open up to a wider population.

Our country has been a touchpoint for different people, cultures and traditions for millennia. As a result, UP is home to many people, local and international, from a great diversity of backgrounds. We are home to some of the most talented South Africans:  excellent academics, diligent students, gifted sportspeople, great artists and amazing innovators. In many ways, UP boasts the African intellectual capital that is capable of providing solutions to some of our most pressing challenges and shaping the world to be a better place.

But what truly makes UP what it is, is its commitment to excellence in all that we do. Our collective culture is THE UP WAY of life, which is motivated by a desire to uplift those around us. Every student passing through our University is instilled with the values of THE UP WAY and carries this excellence with them throughout their lives. 

As we share our space with the world and produce knowledge that the world can use, we are sure that our commitment to inclusivity and diversity will contribute to shaping a better South Africa.

Professor Tawana Kupe

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

- Author Professor Tawana Kupe

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