While many have gone beyond the call of duty to improve the lives of those in Philippi and surrounding areas, their efforts often go unacknowledged.
In an effort to change this, 35 community stalwarts were honoured when Philippi Village in partnership with Nyanga Tourism Forum (NTF) announced on Monday September 25, that they would be building a memorial hall just outside the Philippi Village building.
According to its website, Philippi Village is an “entrepreneurial development, providing a space where entrepreneurs and businesses can grow” and where residents can develop their skills in order to find work.
Among those to be honoured are professionals, community leaders, activists, sports people and politicians from the community of Philippi.
Esteemed guests, families and the recipients gathered at the offices of Phlippi Village to witness the ceremony. The organisation’s CEO Amor Strauss said they wanted to salute their veterans and ask their families to accept a small token of appreciation.
She said they hoped that the youth would emulate their actions and follow in their footsteps. She said they wanted people to be aware that apartheid had not been dismantled by a small army of people but rather by the ongoing acts of defiance of many people – however, insignificant their contributions might have seemed at the time. She said that through the many civil acts of disobedience today the whole country enjoys the benefits of their efforts. “We honour these people that made Phlippi what it is today. These people are nameless and faceless, and we want to honour these people and give them a name and face. The residents requested us to honour these community developers and it was not something we initiated. “They asked to create a place where they can thank these people for their valuable contribution in their society,” she said. Ms Strauss said it was vital that the community acknowledged their champions and stalwarts as they were the community’s conscience and reminded people about the type of society they were trying to build. She said Philippi was a place of development, living and learning and should be a place that people felt belonged to them. She said the community should put forward names of those they wanted honoured on the memoral wall.
“We are glad that people feel safe enough to bring these proposals to us, and it seems that we are building a relationship of trust and mutual respect,” she said. Joshua Plaatjie, a former a professional boxer, said he felt privileged to be among the people who were being honoured. “Our children should know about us. We have contributed to the betterment of this community one way or another,” he said. NTF co-ordinator Mlandeli Mbiko, said their mission was to link Nyanga, Crossroads and Philippi through the development of heritage sites and that they had identified 18 such sites, with projects having started as long as 14 years ago. He said the aim of the initiative was to drive job creation and promote local tourism while honouring community stalwarts. He said their long-term objective was to use tourism initiatives to reduce crime in their community.
“The role of these heroes and heroines has never been talked about in their communities and we want people to start honouring them. “This was a preservation of cultural heritage. We want to change the image of these communities. We want our children to first appreciate our local heroes before they start talking about others,” he said.