SA, Sweden cement cultural relations

Sara Malm
Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy Alice Bah Kuhnke

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Pretoria – South Africa and Sweden have signed a letter of intent which will see the two countries collaborate on a number of programmes, including nation building, social cohesion and promoting tolerance.

On Monday, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, signed an agreement with the Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy Alice Bah Kuhnke which will strengthen cultural relations between the two countries.

One of the projects the two countries already has in the pipeline is a collaboration between Freedom Park and the Nordic Africa Institute.

“One of Freedom Park’s mandate is to honour, commemorate and memorialise those who contributed to the struggle for freedom in South Africa.

“Freedom Park therefore feels it would be useful to embark on a structured programme of projects to honour the Swedish contribution to the struggle for democracy in South Africa,” Minister Mthethwa said.

He said Freedom Park and the Swedish Embassy will start a project of facilitating the collection of names of all Swedish people who contributed in the liberation struggle.

South Africa will also visit Sweden to interact with people who are still alive as well the families of those who have passed on.

“We got to say thank you to those people because we promised them that when our freedom comes we won’t forget them.

“What is particularly important about Sweden is that they are part of the Scandinavian countries. They dealt a blow to [the] myth that people who supported the struggle for freedom are not pale people in the pigmentation of their skin,” Minister Mthethwa said.

The collection will include Swedish citizens who have already been honoured by South Africa through the National Orders. Those names will be inscribed on the Freedom Park’s Wall of Names.

Minister Kuhnke said Sweden has a lot to learn from South Africa because Sweden and Europe were experiencing challenges with social cohesion with the recent migration situation.

“I had a very fruitful discussion with the Minister of Arts and Culture, [it was] an important discussion because we are facing challenging and tough times in Sweden.

“So it is very important for us to know best practises as polarisation and racism are growing in Sweden,” she said.

During the meeting, the Ministers discussed other issues such as unemployment, equity, literacy as well as collaboration on various initiatives, including the “Time Travel” project which is co-ordinated by the Kalmar County Museum in Sweden.

The project is an educational methodology of heritage sharing and education for communities, teachers and learners.

“I think it’s important that South Africa and Sweden work with our cultural heritage because this is a tool for now and the future,” Minister Kuhnke said.