RCA Flag
RCA Flag
Connecting Africa’s Skilled Professionals
RCA Flag

ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.

Library of Articles

ImageThe recent launch of the Ifa Lethu Foundation in the UK brought to London a display of unique works of art reflecting the turbulent period of South Africa’s struggle for democracy.

Since the establishment of its democracy in 1994, South Africa has worked hard to overcome its legacy of bitterness and division and to create a culture of healing and understanding among all South Africans. During the country’s era of struggle, many of its artistic treasures found their way out of the country. Ifa Lethu, a Tshwane based Foundation, was launched in 2005 with the support of the South African Ministry of Arts and Culture and with the aim of repatriating South African struggle era art and heritage into the country.

The Foundation’s vision is to locate, protect and promote an important part of country’s heritage by repatriating the art to South Africa. Ifa Lethu is appealing for the repatriation of South Africa’s heritage and through educational programmes, will make these collections available to South Africans before they are deposited with suitable identified repositories, galleries and museums. The launch of the Foundation in the UK took place in London alongside a display of paintings created during the struggle era.

“A Wonderful Initiative”

H.E. Lindiwe Mabuza, South Africa’s High Commissioner to the UK, opened the launch of what she described as a ‘wonderful initiative’ at South Africa House in the heart of London. Welcoming the CEO of the Foundation, Narissa Ramdhani, and its Chair, Dr. Ramphele Mamphela, the High Commissioner lent her support to the Foundation’s efforts to secure the homecoming of South Africa’s rich heritage.

“Nationhood is more than people,” she said. “A nation needs a culture, a heritage, arts and music to be given a soul. Ifa Lethu recognizes the value of the country’s struggle. Artifacts, documents, arts – all those that belong to South Africa remind us of the past. These treasures do not need to be made of gold and diamonds; even the humblest scrap of paper reminds us of who we were and who we are.”

Ifa Lethu aims to foster understanding among people and, through understanding, a process of healing will be enabled. The works of art, added the High Commissioner, will bring even more “pride in our culture and heritage; recapturing who we are and how the artist’s eyes saw us in our pain.”

Repatriating Heritage

ImageTaking the lead, High Commissioner Mabuza donated a charcoal drawing by one of South Africa’s greatest artists to Ifa Lethu’s CEO, Narissa Ramdhani. Ramdhani, who joined Ifa Lethu as its first CEO, has devoted almost a decade to supporting South Africa’s cultural heritage. Primarily an academic historian of African and International Affairs, her work at American institutions, such as the Universities of Connecticut and Yale where she devoted her energies to encouraging and promoting research on the South African liberation struggle, was followed on her return to South Africa with the task of repatriating materials for the African National Congress (ANC) from 33 countries.

Expressing her gratitude for the generosity shown to the Foundation, Narissa Ramdhani urged those in the UK to support the Ifa Lethu initiative.

“We have repatriated heritage art from many parts of the world and we appeal to the UK to join the growing list of countries that are repatriating our art,” she said.

Launching Ifa Lethu in the UK

ImageThe keynote speech at the launch was delivered by Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, the celebrated former activist and co-founder, along with Steve Biko, of the Black Consciousness Movement, a grass-roots anti-apartheid movement. Dr. Ramphele, a physician and anthropologist, was the first woman, and the first black South African, to hold the position of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town. Today, in addition to her role as Chair of Ifa Lethu, she is the Chairperson of Circle Capital Ventures, a black empowerment company, and chairs the Global Commission on International Migration.

In her address, Dr. Ramphele spoke of the spiritual dimension of the Foundation’s mission. “Ifa Lethu is playing a role in the process of the reconstruction of the soul,” she said. “It is in this context that we are here in the UK for the first launch outside South Africa.”

Dr. Ramphele acknowledged the long-standing history between South Africa and the UK and the role played by thousands of Britons in support of the anti-apartheid struggle. “We have a shared heritage,” she said, “and the historic ties between our two countries run deep.”

‘Bringing Home the Diaspora of Our Heritage’

ImageIfa Lethu has repatriated a significant number of artworks from around the world and, Dr. Ramphele said, “We would like to invite you to join this global network of a healing movement of culture. We are hoping that you will help us to realise this.”
Dr. Ramphele cited some of the Foundation’s achievements to date, including over 195 pieces of art from countries such as the USA, Switzerland and Australia. In partnership with the private sector in South Africa, the Foundation has built a mobile heritage gallery to break down the barriers between those in urban and rural areas. The mobile museum will visit people around the country and will centre on schools in South Africa with the aim of inspiring young people to express themselves in creative ways.

“We are also partnering with the artists to be the narrators of their art and to travel around the countryside and tell their stories,” she said. The Foundation’s logo has been branded onto t-shirts and clothing to attract young people into the culture of art.

“Culture has always been a weapon in South Africa,” Dr. Ramphele said. “The struggle also used culture as a weapon of resistance. Now we must use culture, not as a weapon, but as a shared resource and to effect the healing we yearn for so much. Healing wounds that are 300 years old will take a long time.”

The Foundation’s goal is to create a living project dedicated to the nation’s healing process. In so doing, the Foundation, whose Board of Directors includes luminaries such as musician Hugh Masakela, will tell the stories of South Africans who were involved in the production of the country’s heritage from the missing era and promote an enlightened and democratic society by sharing the beliefs and dreams of South Africans of a past era with future generations.

To learn more about Ifa Lethu or to lend your support: www.ifalethu.org.za

Welcome to the new, upgraded ReConnect Africa website.
Please help us provide you with information relevant to your needs by completing the fields below (just this once!)