Heritage Day: Taking Charge of the Narrative?

Share real stories (not fake news) this Heritage Month

This Heritage Month, to help promote understanding, trust and reconciliation, social change NGO Heartlines, is encouraging members of the public to share their personal stories. Inspired by their recent film, Beyond The River, the values-inspired campaign called What’s Your Story, will address ideas around culture, identity and racial stereotypes.

“The Bell Pottinger scandal made South Africans wake up and see that we need to take charge of our South African narrative. If we don’t stop to ask, listen and tell our own stories, ones that promote tolerance and understanding, more Bell Pottingers will fill the gaps with stories that breed ignorance and fear. Fake news is an unfortunate reality,” says Heartlines’ CEO, Dr Garth Japhet.

We are all guardians of our collective culture – we have a responsibility to share and safeguard it. Heritage Month is the perfect time for all South Africans to reflect on the current narrative around culture and who owns it. That’s why mass media campaigns like What’s Your Story? are so important – they empower ordinary South Africans to share ideas around culture and identity and by so doing create new narratives.

“The personal stories of every citizen and community in South Africa contributes to our national heritage. The more we understand each other’s stories and the stories of our communities, the more we understand, accept and empathise with each other,” says Japhet.

In order to address this problem at scale, What’s your Story? promotes and supports personal storytelling and listening, particularly in group situations where people meet regularly. This includes the workplace, school, places of faith, correctional facilities and tertiary education campuses.

Aimed at giving one million people a platform for their stories to be heard, Heartlines have launched a crowdfunding campaign through Thundafund.com. Money raised will go towards implementing What’s your Story? throughout South Africa, as well as community film viewings of Beyond the River.

The fundraising campaign is aimed at bringing South Africans together. “Stories promote understanding and healing – they make us human. It goes to the heart of our shared culture and history as a continent,” says Japhet. “Anyone can ask someone for their story – you don’t need special training, just the will to make your contribution to building unity.”

For the past 15 years, Heartlines has been turning mass media platforms into social values campaigns that help connect and engage people around key social issues. Some of Heartlines’ award-winning campaigns include Eight weeks. Eight values, One national conversation, and Nothing for Mahala: A campaign on values and money. The issues may vary but the method remains the same – promoting values through personal storytelling.

Help Heartlines reach their goal to raise R1-million by visiting https://www.thundafund.com/project/_heartlines.  Alternatively share your story and be part of a new cultural narrative. Visit What’s Your Story at www.whatsyourstory.online  to watch, read, listen and share stories that promote collective understanding, acceptance and healing.