The Diplomatic Society

 
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Norway celebrates Constitution Day

21 May 2019

The Ambassador of Norway Astrid Emilie Helle hosted a reception to celebrate Norway's Constitution Day in Pretoria.

On May 17th in 1814, a Constitutional Assembly signed the Constitution of Norway which at that time was considered one of the most democratic constitutions in the world.

Photo: Abdeslam Ajamay, Ambassador Astrid Helle and Director General Mashwahle Diphofa of Cogta

Today, said Ambassador Helle, “we are one of the most prosperous countries in the world. But a high GDP per capita and low unemployment are not the only indicators of a country’s well-being. We also top the UN’s Human Development Index and are rated the second happiest country in the world. I think our high level of equality is one key factor in not only promoting wealth, but also happiness.”

The anthems were performed by the Field Band Foundation of South Africa and musical entertainment provided by Soweto-born musician Bonj.

Traditional Norwegian food and drink were served at this festive celebration.  Chef Gunnar Jensen travelled all the way from Tromsø in the North to prepare delicious seafood delicacies.

 

REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR ASTRID HELLE

First a disclaimer: Our National Day was actually on May 17th. But what are we actually celebrating? On May 17th in 1814, a Constitutional Assembly signed the Constitution of Norway. At that time it was considered one of the most democratic constitutions in the world. Norway was to be independent, after a 400 year long forced marriage with Denmark. The document caused widespread consternation among the ruling classes of Europe – rule by the people?! Independence?! Preposterous!

Two months later, our dream of independence was crushed by our Swedish neighbours. But the Norwegian people insisted on keeping our Constitution, even under Swedish rule. In 1905 we finally achieved full independence. And just to be clear: Denmark and Sweden are now, together with Iceland and Finland, our very best friends.

Today it is one of the world’s oldest Constitutions still in force. Just like all South Africans cherish its Constitution, the Norwegian Constitution is very dear to us. With its liberal values and emphasize on equality, it has formed the Modern Norway. Today we are one of the most prosperous countries in the world. But a high GDP per capita and low unemployment are not the only indicators of a country’s well-being. We also top the UN’s Human Development Index and are rated the second happiest country in the world. I think our high level of equality is one key factor in not only promoting wealth, but also happiness. Because it can certainly not be our long, dark winters…

South Africa and Norway are far apart geographically, but our shared values bring us close together. We both cherish
freedom,
democracy,
diversity,
human rights and
the rule of law.
We congratulate South Africa on your tremendous progress during 25 years of democracy. We also congratulate all South Africans on the recent elections. Again you have shown that you can rise above challenges to produce amazing results.

The relationship between our two countries was forged during the South African Liberation Struggle. I am very proud that Norway, together with our Nordic neighbors, was at the forefront of the international solidarity movement for South Africa’s liberation. To learn more about this history, I encourage you to visit the Liliesleaf museum. The exhibition you saw on your way in today showcases the role of women in the Norwegian anti-apartheid movement.
Based on a strong foundation of shared history and values, the relationships  between our governments, people, civil society groups, students and businesses continue to deepen every year.

Let me give just a few examples of what this partnership is all about:

-    Trade, investment and tourism are increasing. This will be helped by President Ramaphosa’s pledge of greater policy certainty. Economic growth is key to realizing the economic and social rights of all South Africans. Norwegian companies are making a growing contribution in this regard. They are actively investing capital, creating jobs and sharing knowledge in SA in a number of areas, like the blue economy, shipping, oil and gas and solar energy, fertilizers, chemical industries, to name just a few. The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, one of the world’s largest funds, has investments of more than ninety-four billion Rand in South Africa.

-    Our political relations continue to strengthen. Prime Minister Erna Solberg visited SA last year, to join in the celebrations of Mandela’s centenary and to honour his legacy. So did our minister of higher education and research. This year, we look forward to welcoming president Cyril Ramaphosa to Norway, where he will be the keynote speaker at the Nordic African Business Summit in October.

-    Globally, Norway is a consistent partner for our common future. Norway and South Africa work well together, as we both strongly believe in a rules-based and fair world order. We share many priorities such as the Sustainable Development Goals, and the need to reform the UN. Norway strongly supports permanent African representation on the UN Security Council, where SA now plays such an active role.

-    On the Women, Peace and Security agenda, we are firm allies. Women are too often kept out of peace processes! This is why the embassy and DIRCO have developed a joint programme to train women mediators from all over Africa.

-    Last but not least, Norway support various SA civil society partners to play a positive role in the country and in the rest of Africa. For instance, with our great partner, the Nelson Mandela University, we are working  to combat fisheries crime in Africa. The goal is to ensure that Africa’s ocean resources remain sustainable and benefit the peoples of Africa.

We have tried to put together a proper Norwegian celebration for you today.
-    On the screen to my left, you see a recording of the celebrations as they happen in Oslo. In Norway, as you can see, children march, not soldiers!

-    Field bands are an absolute must in Norway – so we enlisted some help from our great friends and partners at the Field Band Foundation of South Africa. The Field Band Foundation does amazing work for young people. Speak to their representatives here if you want to know more.

 

 

 

-    On 17 May we serve the best that we have to offer – and that is seafood! Norwegian chef Gunnar Jensen has come all the way from Tromsø in the North to prepare for us some seafood delicacies, sponsored by the Norwegian Seafood Council.

-    Next to him you will find colleagues serving, a kind of pancake called svele, a firm favorite of Western Norway. They are amazing with sour cream and strawberry jam – try it. You will also find the round almond cake, called kransekake, prepared by the great staff of the embassy.

-    And why not wash this all down with cocktail using our famous national liquor Aquavit? That distinct taste you get is the spice caraway – I hope you’ll like it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-    By the way: don’t be scared of our Vikings – they are here to amuse, not mutilate! Get a picture with them in our photo booth.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Now it only remains for me to introduce to you the great artist Bonj! Bonj is a Soweto-born musician of exceptional talent and creativity. We got to know her through the SA Music Rights Organisation Foundation, with whom we have a fantastic, BASA-award winning project supporting live music, called Concerts SA. Bonj describes her music as a blend of electronic, soulful melodies and groove sounds. Thank you all so much for coming. Bonj, the stage is yours.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
_________________________________________________

May/June 2019

 
 
.
_________________________________________________

Translater


 
 
 
 

 
 
                                                     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

© copyright 2011-2017| The Diplomatic Society| All Rights Reserved.