Speech by H.E. Ms Anna Raduchowska-Brochwicz, Ambassador of Poland in South Africa at the celebration of Poland's Constitution Day.
Pretoria, 6 May 2015
Good afternoon dear guests. I would like to invite you to observe the national anthem of the Republic of Poland and the national anthem of the Republic of South Africa.
-Acting Chief Director for Central and Eastern Europe at DIRCO Ambassador Genge, representing the Government of the Republic of South Africa,
-Distinguished Ambassadors and High Commissioners, and other members of the diplomatic corps,
-Representatives of DIRCO and other South African government institutions,
-Representatives of civil society, academia, think tanks, business, business associations and other South African and international partners present at today’s celebration,
-His Excellency Bishop Adam Musiałek,
-Representatives of the Polish community living in South Africa,
-Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for coming. We are very honoured by your presence today.
First, let me thank the musicians for their wonderful performance of the national anthems.
The Constitution Day of the 3rd of May has a particular meaning in the history of our nation, for it marks the adoption on the 3rd May 1791 of Poland’s first constitution, being at the same time the second constitution ever written in the world as well as the first one in Europe. It was a document that laid the grounds for the state that we are enjoying today, e.g. fully democratic, governed by the rule of law and the protection of basic freedoms for all, and a state which is also economically viable.
Nowadays Poland belongs to the family of the fastest growing countries in Europe, being part of the market of 500 mln European Union consumers, in addition linked closely to the markets of Eastern Europe of 200 mln people. Let me give you a few examples, which may be of interest to you.
During the last two decades Poland received more than 140 bln USD in foreign direct investments. We are also the biggest beneficiary of European funds. The Polish stock exchange is the biggest in Central and Eastern Europe. I am happy to recall that for the period between 2008 and 2013 Poland is placed 2nd in the EU as far as the creation of new jobs is concerned. Almost every passenger airplane in the world carries at least one part made in Poland. 78% of European LCD TV sets are produced in Poland. Our country is the 3rd largest producer of this type of TV in the world. We are the largest producer in Europe of domestic electrical appliances and the second largest producer in the EU of windows and doors, as well as the 3rd largest exporter of furniture. Our country also became the regional outsourcing centre for ICT services. As far as agriculture is concerned Poland is the 6th biggest producer of food in the EU, the largest in Europe and 2nd largest global producer of apples, 3rd largest in the EU exporter of poultry, and Europe’s largest producer of champignon mushrooms. We are steadily growing politically and economically on the European as well as the global scene, which is being clearly reflected in the strengthened bilateral relations with South Africa, both politically and economically.
But what constitutes the greatest asset of our country is the people, those who live in Poland and those who live outside its borders, sometimes far away from their homeland, in countries like South Africa. Ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to recognize today their contribution in the development of our country, economically speaking, but also in the political sense. For, like in the case of South Africa, many of them left communist Poland to live in exile with the aim to take an active part in our struggle for independence and democracy. And to honour them, ladies and gentlemen, every year on the 2nd of May we celebrate the Polish diaspora and the Poles living abroad. The same day, the 2nd of May is also our National Flag Day. It is always a very moving occasion, for on that day we are all, those living in Poland and those beyond its borders, united through paying respect to our national colours, white and red.
Excellences, ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed my pleasure to invite you to raise your glass to honour the excellent cooperation between South Africa and Poland and the friendship that exists between our people and our nations.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you would agree with me that what brings people together, in addition to political and economic ties, is culture and music. And it is in jazz music where both countries, Poland and South Africa, are very successful and have many remarkable achievements.
The jazz movement in Poland has a very long tradition, dated as early as the 1930s.
After World War II the initial period of fascination with jazz music was quickly suppressed by the communist authorities. Although groups like Melomani existed, jazz was officially condemned and forbidden from the radio. Musicians learned about jazz by listening to shortwave radio broadcasts of Willis Conover's Voice of America Jazz Hour or smuggling jazz records from abroad.
After the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, jazz in Poland gained renewed freedom and many jazz festivals could take place. By the sixties three streams of jazz had emerged as dominant: traditional jazz, "mainstream" and free jazz. Krzysztof Komeda, one of the most famous Polish jazz performers, became the leader of a modern jazz movement that did not copy the American way of playing, but developed its own "European" style. About 40 jazz festivals take place every year in Poland, among them the Warsaw Jazz Jamboree festival, which is today one of the oldest such events in Europe.
Today we have with us Mr. Zbigniew Kobak, who has been performing successfully on South African stages for over 25 years. Born in Poland, Zbigniew “Speedy” Kobak is the founder of “Speedy Kobak Band”. He has also performed in neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland. Being a multi-instrumental Mr. Kobak plays as many as 10 different instruments as well as vocals. He has performed with the SABC Orchestra, the PACT Orchestra and the Mmabatho Symphonic Orchestra. The music variety of the band’s repertoire covers classical, jazz, dance, German Oompah and other popular music.Today he will perform with Mr. Phil Holder and Mr. Sydney Mavundla.
The presence of these musicians with us on this very special occasion, who are Polish and South African and who are successfully playing together, could serve as a reflection and a manifestation of the close ties that exist between the two countries. They have already given us a sample of their outstanding skills, when they played both national anthems wonderfully.
I would like to invite them to play more pieces for us today, while we will enjoy Polish food, especially prepared for today’s celebration.