Honourable Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi statement for the SA / India Arts and Culture Festival
Your Excellency the High Commissioner of India to South Africa, Virendra Gupta;
Consul General of India to South Africa, Randhir Jaiswal;
Members of the media
South Africa and India share a bond which dates more than 100 years back. It is in these two countries where the most revered and gallant leaders Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, were born.
These two iconic and fearless leaders spoke openly against the inhumane and oppressive apartheid regime.
It was these two founding fathers of our nations who were prepared to pay with their lives for the liberation of their people.
It was their similar philosophies of non-violence and non-racial that helped to shape the transformation and adoption of the values of peace and reconciliation in their countries and in the world.
When ushering the democratic dispensation in South Africa, the father of our nation Nelson Mandela said,
“We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world."
We are equally reminded of the words of India’s father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, who said,
“I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”
The government and people of South Africa hold dearly the profound ties that we have built with the government and people of India since the arrival of the Indians in South Africa to work as labourers in the Natal Sugar Fields in 1860.
In 1948, at the United Nations, India pointed out that the new Government in South Africa was committed to "apartheid" and the domination of all non-White peoples by the Europeans" and warned: "If the belief that there is to be one standard of treatment for the White races and another for the non-White continues to gain strength among the latter,
the future for solidarity among the Members of the United Nations and, consequently, for world peace, will indeed be dark."
We remain indebted to the Indian community for their contribution towards the development of our country and nation building, including the struggle against apartheid.
South Africa enjoys a long-standing cordial relationship with the government and people of India that has been solidified by the Agreement on Cooperation in the fields of Education, Arts, Culture and Sport in 1996.
South Africa and India share a lot of commonalities which include the role that the two countries play in the multilateral organizations. Organizations such as India - Brazil - South Africa (IBSA), Non Alignment Movement (NAM), G77, IOR-ARC and recently Brazil-Russia- India- China and South Africa ( BRICS).
We acknowledge the great milestone that was reached at the Sixth BRICS Summit in Brazil. President of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma has described as a historic, seminal moment the creation of the BRICS New Development Bank. The new financial institution will be headquartered in Shanghai, China, while Johannesburg will host a permanent regional office for Africa.
The South African Department of Arts and Culture and the Indian Ministry of Culture signed the Executive Programme for Cultural Co-operation (POC) in 2003. The two countries have already had numerous cultural exchanges under the auspices of the Programme of Cooperation.
The India festival in South Africa that we are launching here today forms part of the implementation of what was agreed that both countries would hold reciprocal cultural festivals in each other’s country to implement the Programme of Cooperation to promote social cohesion and cultural diversity in both countries.
The India festival forms part of the 20 years celebration of freedom and democracy in South Africa, the 100 years since the return of the great Mahatma Gandhi, renowned icon of Indian nationalism and independence from South Africa on 18 July 1914 and coincides with the celebration of life and values of our liberation struggle icon, former President Nelson Mandela also on 18 July.
The India festival in South Africa will take place through a series of cultural activities such as music, film, exhibition, food and youth summit across South Africa starting from the 18th July until the 14th September 2014.
To name but a few, activities will take place as follows:
- Gandhi Mandela Exhibition: From 18 July to 10 August at the Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg. The core of this exhibition is to present similarities between the two leaders, trace their path and plot the trajectory;
- Gandhi Mandela Youth Summit: 19 July also happening at the Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg. The Summit will engage participants from 20 to 30 high schools on how the values of Mandela and Gandhi can be adopted in the 21st century;
- Tolstoy Farm event: 20 July in Lenasia, Johannesburg. The Tolstoy Farm which had been set up by Gandhi is proposed to be revived through the setting up of a Trust to develop the site as a Garden of Remembrance;
- Exhibition on Monuments of India: From 31 July to 13 August at Ditsong National Museum of Cult Hist in Pretoria. This Exhibition is about the most enduring tangible footprints of the human civilization;
- Festival Official Opening event: 25 July at the State Theatre in Pretoria.
A fully fledged schedule of activities for the India festival in South Africa will be uploaded on the websites of both the Department of Arts and Culture and the Embassy of India.
I would like to conclude by reiterating South Africa’s commitment to the bilateral relations that exists between the two countries more so in taking forward the implementation of the Programme for Cultural Co-operation.
I have no doubt that the India festival in South Africa will be a resounding success.
I thank you