It is with great shock and sadness that I learnt of the unexpected passing yesterday (subs: Wed 3 October) of the well respected Griqua leader Paulie Kiewiets, affectionately known by all as Oom Paulie.

I would like to extend my condolences to his family, the Griqua community in the Tsitsikamma on behalf of the Democratic Alliance and my colleague on the national parliament, Elza van Lingen, who is our constituency leader in Kouga.

We have been working closely with Oom Paulie, who has done so much to preserve the Griqua culture in the area. It would have been so good bringing him as a guest to Taking Legislature to the People in Humansdorp next week, where I will be tabling a motion in the House to highlight the need record the rich and unique history of the Griqua and Mfengu peoples of the Tsitsikamma.

The DA will continue in this quest. Last month I wrote to the MEC for Arts and Culture, Xoliswa Tom, to assist with the research, capturing of data, collation and content development of a dossier to record the histories of both the Griqua and Mfengu peoples.

I have also approached the newly established Eastern Cape Provincial Heritage Research Authority to help preserve this important aspect of the cultural heritage of the area.

It is an alarming reality that the opportunity to record the rich history of the Griqua and Mfengu peoples of the Tsitsikamma region of the Eastern Cape is passing us by as the elders of these groups are aging and dying. The death of Oom Paulie is a time to reflect on the important knowledge of the past might soon be lost forever and before long we will have lost the opportunity to record the rich cultural heritage and stories of these groups.

We dare not lose the opportunity to record this history and lessons from the past for the development of educational publications for learners and tourists for benefit of the local community.

The DA believes that the diversity of our society should be embraced. This includes recording the histories of all communities.

It is of vital importance that the MEC make money available for this important task. For the sake of the future, we cannot turn our back on the past.