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The dynamism of South Africa’s diversity of cultures: A Rainbow nation

by Stella Sigcau

19 February 2020

South Africa, which is often referred to as the cradle of humankind, is home to diverse cultures which are dynamic for example but not limited to, Sotho, Tswana, Pedi, Afrikaner, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Thembu, Bhaca, Mpondo, Hlubi, Balibedu, Tsonga, Venda, Swati, Indian, Khoi, San.

(Image credit Pixabay)

These cultures have unique history, heritage, languages, dress codes, cultural practices and even religious beliefs. The late former President Mandela referred to this diversity as the rainbow nation. Some of these cultures trace their origins from the Abambo and the Nguni groups; others are of Indian, Dutch, Malay origins, others are of the Khoi and the San origins, some descend from the mixing of these cultures and the list goes on.

Prior to the advent of the arrival of the colonial powers in South Africa it is reported that the San and the Khoi often referred to as abaThwa or Bushmen who were semi nomadic hunter gatherers were already in settlement and the Bantu clans and tribes migrated to the Southern part of Africa splitting and establishing various Kingdoms. Some tribes along the way would be conquered and absorbed by the dominant ones to form Kingdoms and some tribes or clans would seek refuge in other Kingdoms and thus become part of those Kingdoms recognising the King of that Kingdom as the supreme ruler. Some of these tribes were of Nguni and Abambo origins which it is reported originated from Ntu or Bantus. There is a view that Ntu was either the first created individual hence umntu (nguni name for person) or the first leader of the Bantu tribe in Africa.


SA open for increased German investment

6 February 2020

South Africa is keen to attract higher levels of investment from Germany and to increase bilateral trade, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The President made the remarks while addressing delegates during a South Africa – Germany Business Roundtable in Tshwane, on Thursday. The engagement is part of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Official Visit to South Africa.

A recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) report has noted that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows to South Africa have increased substantially over the last two years.

“This confidence is aptly demonstrated across sectors and companies, including by German companies and their subsidiaries with a longstanding presence in South Africa,” said the President.


Traditional Leaders: unsung heroes of the liberation struggle and colonial resistance?

By Stella Sigcau

13 February 2020

2020 marks 30 years since the release of the global icon the late former President Mandela from prison after having spent 27 years for fighting for liberation. It was a historic moment, a moment like no other. South Africans were celebrating. The world was celebrating with South Africans. It was a historic moment in the history of South Africa. Many people from various walks of life had sacrificed their lives for this freedom. It was finally here.

The many South Africans who fought colonial resistance and liberation struggle include Traditional Leaders. They were part of this struggle from time immemorial however, it seems their role in the liberation struggle and colonial resistance is often underplayed. Traditional Leadership has throughout the ages remained an integral part of the various cultures on the African continent. It was and continues to be an important institution in particular in the rural areas.


The fall of a legend: Joseph Shabalala of the Ladysmith Black Mambazo passes

By Stella Sigcau

12 February 2020

On 11 February 2020 South Africans woke up to the sad news of the passing of a musical legend Joseph Shabalala, this when South Africa was celebrating 30 years since the release of the late former President Nelson Mandela from prison.

Mandela’s release was a historic moment in the history of South Africa which marked, according to President Ramaphosa speaking at the 30th anniversary of the release of Mandela from Victor Verster prison, “the end of apartheid”. The legend Shabalala fell on this historic day. Shabalala had shared a special friendship and bond with the late President Mandela. When President Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, he was accompanied to Oslo by the group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, founded and led by Shabalala. President Mandela referred to the group as South Africa’s cultural ambassadors to the world. The group also performed at his presidential inauguration in 1994. 11 February will thus forever be important to South Africans as it is synonymous with the release of President Mandela and now the passing of Joseph Shabalala.


Foreign Affairs of Australia – South Asia:  Resting a New Agenda for the 21st Century

11 February 2011

By Srimal Fernando and Ellise Camilleri

There is much scholarship on the rising power of Southeast Asian countries. Australia’s foreign policy reflects this attention on Southeast Asia with much being done to secure relationships with major powers such as Japan and South Korea. This article will shift the focus onto Australia’s relationship with South Asian nations specifically India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. For Australia, India is a vital strategic partner in the South Asian region.

With this strategy in mind Australia has been working to access the 1.3 billion Indian consumer market and also has been trying to cooperate with Sri Lanka and the Maldives due to their vital geographical position in the Indian Ocean. Australian foreign policy is playing an increasingly important role in the world.


Rise Palestine

20 February 2020

“We, Palestinians, are survivors,” said Her Excellency Hanan Jarrar, recently accredited Ambassador of Palestine to South Africa. She arrives in South Africa at a time when the African continent is rapidly changing and becoming the new frontier for investment, trade and tourism. This year also marks 75 years of the end of World War 2, and the freeing of prisoners from Nazi concentration camps and the end of the holocaust. It also marks 75 years of the United Nations.

Photo: Mrs Hanan Jarrar, Ambassador of Palestine in South Africa

Speaking to The Diplomatic Society Ambassador Jarrar reflected on life in the West Bank and her career in the Palestinian National Authority. Born and brought up in the city of Jenin she is the eldest among six siblings. Her father is a trader who began his career as a photographer. After completing her schooling she attended Birzeit University near Ramallah, 100kms away from Jenin. Here she studied and completed her degree in English Literature.

I was 14 years old in 1987, during the first Intifada (uprising) explains Jarrar. The Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation lasted until 1993. Her parents encouraged her to focus on getting an education, like most middle class parents who felt the best way to resist the and overcome the Israelis was to arm yourself with an education.


India and South Africa intertwined

27 January 2020

India and South Africa are two nations born through struggle and sacrifice and whose history and future are intertwined.

Pictured (l-r) Mrs Minako Sarkar, Mr Bene M’Poko, Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Dean of the diplomatic corps, Mr Fikile Mbalula, SA Minister of Transport and Mr Jaideep Sarkar, High Commissioner of India to South Africa

At the celebration of India’s 71st Republic Day, Mr Jaideep Sarkar, High Commissioner of India to South Africa said, “the values, ideas and individuals that shaped the freedom struggles of India and South Africa also shone a beacon of light and hope to all mankind. With the inspiration of the past, we look to a future of promise. The development experience of India and South Africa hold important lessons. Both countries are using the powerful forces and instruments of democracy to reconcile the multiple and varying interests of a diverse population. We are each multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies seeking unity under the umbrella of a common nationhood,”


Before Sleep - Holocaust Remembrance Day

1 February 2020

The 27th of January 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz & UN Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was on this day in 1945 that the people in Auschwitz, the biggest concentration camp ever created for human beings, were freed by the Red Army of the Soviet Union.  It was only in 2005 that the United Nations declared 27 January as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Photo: Mrs Elif Çomoğlu Űlgen, Ambassador of Turkey presenting pianist Renan Koen with a bouquet of flowers

Commemorating this day Mrs Elif Çomoğlu Űlgen, Ambassador of Turkey hosted Turkish pianist Renan Koen who performed at the Turkish Residence.  Koen played a repertoire ‘Before Sleep’ by composers Gideon Klein and Viktor Ullman.  Both were murdered in the concentration camps and the pieces played by Renan depicted the horrors suffered in these camps. 


Australia remains open for business

1 February 2020

Welcoming guests to Australia Day Mrs Gita Kamath, High Commissioner of Australia to South Africa began by acknowledging the Aboriginal land on which Australia was founded, and paying respect to traditional elders past and present.

Photo: Mrs Gita Kamath, High Commissioner of Australia to South Africa welcoming guests

The purpose of Australia Day said Kamath “is about recognizing and celebrating the contribution that every Australian makes to our diverse and dynamic nation. From our first Australians - who are proud custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture - to those like my own family who have come from all corners of the globe and have the immense privilege of calling Australia home.”

Exhibited at Australia House were paintings from the Ifa Lethu collection, a small selection of the over 300 art works – paintings, drawings, sculptures, wood carvings, and prints, currently in the collection. Kamath shared with guests how the collection came to be saying that it is a remarkable tale of diplomacy, activism, courage and hope.


Celebrating REGGAE Month 2020 … Come Ketch Di Riddim

6 February 2020
By H.E. Angella Comfort, High Commissioner of Jamaica

This year, 2020, marks the start of a new decade with all the excitement and anticipation that such a milestone brings.  

For the lovers of Reggae music in Jamaica, on the African continent and the world over, the month of February is significant for the celebration of the rich cultural history of Reggae. February 6th, 2020, marks the 75th Anniversary of the birth of Robert Nesta Marley (lovingly known to all as Bob Marley) and during this month, the Government and people of Jamaica will welcome visitors from the world over for the 13th staging of Reggae Month activities.  

Many South Africans will also remember that August 2020 will mark the 56th Anniversary of the birth of Reggae Icon and son of the soil, Lucky Dube who holds a special place in the hearts of South Africans and Jamaicans as he was the first African Reggae superstar to perform on the island.  A talented and prolific artist, Lucky Dube released 22 albums in 3 different languages and although he is no longer with us in person, his sprit remains vibrant and alive through his music and that of his offspring Nkulee Dube.
Reggae Music – The Heartbeat of Jamaica.


Ecuadorian Coffee Tasting

3 February 2020

Ecuador is one of only 15 countries that grow both Arabica and Robusta beans, the two main categories of coffee. Coffee beans are grown in different regions throughout this biodiverse country resulting in coffee with different characteristics.

Photo: Mrs Maria Soledad Cordova, Ambassador of Ecuador in South Africa

A coffee tasting was hosted by Mrs Maria Soledad Cordova, Ambassador of Ecuador in South Africa where guests were treated to coffee from the Mountains of Ecuador and from the Galapagos Islands. Enjoyed without milk and sugar, as this is how Cordova said the distinct flavours of each blend can be savoured, the guests each shared their preference. The coffee from the islands was light and slightly fruity whereas the altitude one was stronger with a hint of chocolate.

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January/February 2020










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