SOUTH African music legend Johnny Clegg, the face of government’s new cultural heritage strategy, says "finding the hidden story behind” is the key to unwrapping the Eastern Cape’s tapestry of riches.
Clegg was responding to a question during his presentation to media at Tourism Indaba 2012 in Durban, yesterday.
"The Eastern Cape has a very rich history that includes, for instance, your eight frontier wars ... [from 1779 to 1879 between the Xhosa, and the Boer and British settlers] and the great cattle killing [by the Xhosa]. [triggered by the prophesy of Nongqwuse in 1856 and which resulted in over more than 300000 cattle being slaughtered by the Xhosa]
"This has resulted in strong beliefs and world views. It’s a wonderful tapestry and what you need to do is put together a narrative that tells this story.”
Talking more broadly, Clegg said "the longing to redefine ourselves” was the driver behind the phenomenon of cultural tourism.
"All of us feel at some point like we’re in a porridge. So we become cultural tourists, we go abroad to redefine ourselves.
"When these guys come here – we can give them that gift.”
Clegg, who is also a qualified anthropologist, said a simple meal cooked and presented in a South African way, a mat with a particular weave, can become much more when they are part of a story.
"It’s the hidden story, the story behind – not the artefact itself.
"Most cultural tourists are on a quest and if they are not, then you must construct the quest for them, and put it on the table.”
He said cultural tourists wereare "looking for a new shape”.
"If you flash on that, you will change that person’s life forever, and connect him or her to South Africa forever.
"We need research and money to support this initiative by the government, but I think it is the right way to go, and it has great potential in terms of showing the real South Africa to our tourists,” Clegg said.