Premier E.M. Dipico's speech at the opening of Wildebeest Kuil in December 2001:
Master of ceremonies
Ladies and gentlemen
It is a great honour for me to celebrate with you the opening of this historic tourist attraction site in the Northern Cape Province.
This occasion represents a remarkable opportunity for our people to promote, develop and enhance our rich cultural diversity as a nation.
Today we add a very special new tourist attraction to the many riches that the Northern Cape has to offer to both local and international visitors. The Northern Cape offers so much that is precious and unique.
We have the annual wonder of the flowers of Namaqualand, we have the mysterious mountainous desert of the Richtersveld, we have the rugged desert wildlife of the Kalahari, the vast landscapes of the Karoo AND we have our diamonds.
But, along with the natural splendour of this province is a cultural heritage that is second to none. This real treasure of the Northern Cape is only now being recognised.
Arts, culture and heritage play a vital role in the building of a new, democratic country to nurture creativity and innovation, and promote the diverse heritage of our nation.
Binding us as a nation are common values of love, respect, honesty, dignity and integrity. We have no choice but to cement the historical ties of common identity and vision as a nation.
Today, we open a site that displays a proud history of cultural achievement that stretches back countless millennia. On the plains around this hill are found the tools of humanity's oldest ancestors.
It was in this place that mankind grew up. Millions of years ago these plains were home to all of our ancestors, they unite us in a common humanity. On and around this hill, are not only the remnants of these oldest of our ancestors, but also the rock art that is amongst the finest and oldest on earth.
The rock art site of Wildebeest Kuil has more than 400 individual engravings and is one of the most important rock art sites in this region.
Its proximity to Kimberley and the fact that it lies on Platfontein - where the !Xun and Khwe San communities will soon make their new home - will make it one of the foremost tourism attractions in the province. This treasure from our past will empower our future.
Arts and culture are now seen as central in meeting the various challenges that South Africa faces - in dealing with unemployment and poverty, attracting investment and building tolerance and unity.
Our government has also recognised that indigenous cultural practices are a resource that our people own and that they should be able to benefit from it making a living for themselves and their families.
Here at Wildebeest Kuil, all can see how taxpayers' money is being used to benefit everyone. All sectors of the Kimberley community can benefit from the increased tourism that this site will attract.
This will also serve as an important catalyst in the alleviation of poverty and the promotion of pride in local culture.
Our government is using your money to create permanent jobs and a better future for all.
Local jobs have been created during the planning and construction of the project, with more than 80 individuals being employed to work on it. Almost every temporary and permanent job created on this project has gone to people from the Northern Cape - from the architect and building contractor to the artists. Even the furniture in the building was made by a local company from Victoria West. All the building materials, too, come from our province - the terracotta cement tiles are made here in Kimberley, the bricks, the mosaic and so on. This building bears testament to a province that is working and succeeding, a province that is building on the past to create a much brighter future.
Sir Seretse Khama once said that a people without a past is a people without a future. It is in drawing on our proud past, even that painful past of dispossession, that we better understand the present, and so look to the future with a clearer understanding and a renewed sense of purpose.
Wildebeest Kuil honours our role as the birthplace of humanity and culture. What greater gifts could we have given to the world? It is from this proud heritage, this special contribution, that we are building a new national sense of unity and pride.
May I also take this opportunity to thank National Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism who has funded this project?
We thank the Art Research Institute of the University of the Witwatersrand, the McGregor Museum in Kimberley, the !Xun and Khwe, the relevant local heritage and tourism bodies and others who have helped to make it the success that it is today.
It gives me great pleasure to unveil another world-class heritage attraction in the Northern Cape. I pronounce the Wildebeest Kuil Visitors' Centre open.
I THANK YOU
Issued by Office of the Premier, Northern Cape
11 December 2001