Cultural Warmth: A Strategic Asset in Complex Plural Societies

South African Ubuntu Foundation Business Networking Breakfast

Dr. Ivan Meyer, Minister for Cultural Affairs and Sport
Ivan Meyer, who is also responsible for International Affairs, Arts, Culture, Language, Heritage, Libraries and Museums was previously Provincial Minister for Social Development at the time of his election to the Provincial Legislature in April 2009. Prior to that he served as the Chief Director: Provincial Training in the Corporate Services Directorate of the Western Cape Provincial Administration.

He holds a MA and Ph.D in Public Administration from the University of Stellenbosch, as well as a number of international certificates and diplomas. He has published widely in the fields of education, housing, local government and public administration. 

But on 30 August, at the River Club in Mowbray, he spoke on the importance of cultural warmth in plural societies. Certainly, South Africa, as the Rainbow nation that it is, is a plural society. This plurality could mean two things. The first is that we are divided by difference. Alternatively the second meaning is that individuals who are different in race and culture are plurals that form a whole society.

Indeed, Meyer pointed out that the idea of Ubuntu - that we are who we are because of one another - is what makes us whole. There is, then in South African culture, a great importance in embracing those individualities of culture that make our society whole. This is cultural warmth.

One of the ways in which we can embrace our pluralities and show cultural warmth is through language. Merely something as easy as learning greetings in other languages opens us up to being welcomed into a new culture. It shows an acceptance of cultural differences and that that difference is accepted when we speak in another's language. It also breaks down the barrier of resistance from the person addressed as we show our acceptance of their culture.

In a globalised world, this extends beyond our boarders. It is important to show that, as South Africans, we want to participate in a globalised society.

“Say something in another person's language,” Meyer said, “ and you open up a whole new world!”

The next Ubuntu Foundation Business Networking Breakfast takes place on 21 September 2012.

Visit their website to register.
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Issue 23


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