Media statement by the Minister Paul Mashatile on the occasion of the launch of the South Africa/ United Kingdom cultural seasons

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25 Mar 2014

Programme Director
British High Commissioner to South Africa Miss Judith MacGregor
Co-Chair of the Seasons, Miss Thandiwe January-McLean
Director of the British Council in South Africa - Colm Mcgiven
Commissioner- General of the Seasons, Bongani Tembe
Director of the Edinburgh International Festival, Sir Jonathan Mills
Senior officials from the Department of Arts and Culture and our agencies
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I take this opportunity to welcome all of you to this media launch of the South Africa, United Kingdom Seasons for the years 2014 and 2015.

Through our Seasons with the UK, we are once more using the power of culture to break down barriers between people, to build trust and mutual respect as well as to support economic growth, job creation and the building of sustainable livelihoods.
The Seasons are part of our cultural diplomacy efforts.

They will help us improve people to people contact, consolidate existing bonds of friendship and solidarity as well as open new avenues of interaction between the people of the UK and the people of South Africa.

Through the Seasons, we are taking an important step in promoting greater understanding and appreciation of our cultures.

We are exposing our artists to new markets and to new opportunities for collaboration.
We are also making the bold statement that; as humanity we are one; that what unites far outweighs that which divides us and that our destiny is linked.

As we begin our Seasons with the UK this year, we do so at a time when our country is marking the historic milestone of the twentieth anniversary of freedom and democracy.

We will use this occasion as an opportunity to reflect on where we come from as a nation and to recommit to a shared and prosperous future.

As we mark this milestone we will be joined by the peoples of the world, many of whom have made it possible for us to achieve our freedom and to sustain it for two decades.

We count the people of the United Kingdom among those who stood by us in our darkest hour and therefore share with us the freedom we enjoy today.

In this regard we specifically recall the role played by the UK anti-apartheid movement whose generous support for our cause we will never forget.

In a way through the Seasons as South Africans we are expressing our deep gratitude to the people of the UK for their role in our liberation.

We are also giving them a glimpse of modern day South Africa; a country that has put its unhappy past behind it; that is firmly on a path to unity, equality, prosperity and dignity for all; a country that is today a far much better place to live in, and a country that continues to be inspired by the legacy of Tata Nelson Mandela.

Our Seasons with the UK coincide with the hosting of the 20th edition of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

As a member of the Commonwealth family; a family bound together by a shared history, heritage, language, tradition and culture, South Africa will participate in these games.

We are therefore delighted that some of the presentations by our artists will form part of the cultural programme of the Commonwealth games.

This will, once again, expose our artists to audiences that they would otherwise have not had an opportunity to be exposed to, thus strengthening the exports of our cultural goods and services.
This is in line with our Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy through which we seek to redefine the role of culture as going beyond nourishing the soul of the nation, but also as a major driver of economic growth, job creation and the building of sustainable livelihoods.

We are delighted that following the signing, last year, of a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the fields of Arts and Culture between ourselves and the British High Commission, our teams, both from South African and the UK are hard at work preparing for the Seasons.

We are also delighted to announce that we will be partnering with S.A Tourism, Brand S.A, the Department of Sport and Recreation as well as the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

Collectively we will work hard towards ensuring that our Seasons with the UK become a resounding success.

We will ensure that the Seasons take our relations with the people of the UK to a higher level.
Thank you.