Statement by Minister Paul Mashatile on the occasion of the Media Event to congratulate South African Artists due to perform at President Barack Obama Inauguration

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16 Jan 2013

Programme Director
The Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr Joe Phaahla
Our distinguished musicians, Bra Hugh Masikela, Lira and MiCasa
Members of the media
Representatives of SAMRO
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

We meet here today to show our appreciation to some of our country’s finest musical talent on their recent achievements on the world stage.

As we know, Lira and MiCasa have been invited to perform for President Barack Obama, at the prestigious 2013 Ambassadors Inaugural Ball, following his inauguration.

In addition, our musical icon Bra Hugh Masekela will perform at a separate event also marking President Obama’s swearing-in into office for the second time as the President of the United States.

Bra Hugh, a recipient of the Order of Ikhamanga; awarded to South Africans who have excelled in the fields of arts and culture was also recently nominated for a Grammy Award.

His Album Jabulani, produced and arranged by Don Laka, has been nominated in the “Best World Music Album” category.

This is the second time that Bra Hugh has been nominated for the Grammies. We take this opportunity to wish Bra Hugh all the best for the 2013 Grammy Awards.

I am delighted to announce that my Department has undertaken to assist Bra Hugh with his travel arrangements to the Grammies, hopefully to collect the award.

Bra Hugh will also receive the “Keeper of the Flame” award from the African American Church. Previous recipients of the Award include Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Dr. Maya Angelo, a renowned poet.

Bra Hugh, MiCasa and Lira were are proud of your achievements. You are worthy ambassadors of our local music. We will continue to draw inspiration from what you have achieved.

All of you are living proof that South African music and South African musicians are among the best in world.

We also acknowledge and thank all those who work with you, supporting you all the way as you inspire us through your music.

Government will continue to support you as you fly the South African flag high on the world stage.

Programme Director, out there in all parts of our country, there are many who aspire to be like Bra Hugh, Lira and   MiCasa.

On a daily basis these highly talented South Africans do everything in their power, often with limited resources and no recognition or reward, to show-case their creative skills.

They look forward to a day when their talent will be recognized, appreciated and rewarded not only in South Africa but also in the whole world.          
They look up to icons such as Bra Hugh and believe that they too will also make a decent living from their talents.

It is for this reason that when we host major international cultural events such as the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Joy of Jazz and many others we insist on a substantial representation of local artists.

This we believe will give local artists much needed exposure and unlock further opportunities for them.    

Equally, as part of implementing our Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) Strategy, we are embarking on a number of initiatives aimed at repositioning the arts, culture and heritage sector.

This we are doing to strengthen our sector’s contribution to the economy, by creating much needed work opportunities   and the building of sustainable livelihoods for our artists.

Among the many initiatives we are implementing is the establishment of a touring company.

This company will offer opportunities for our artists to tour South Africa, our Continent and the world, thus allow the to gain exposure to new markets and audiences.

We are doing this because we are determined to strengthen the exports of our creative products!  

Plans are also underway to establish vibrant cultural precincts across the country.

These precincts will feature performances throughout the year and thus contribute to audience development for the benefit of our artists.

We are also proceeding with plans to establish a National Skills Academy for the Arts.

The academy will not replace existing training initiatives.
Rather it will coordinate and complement them, ensuring that more of our artists have access to training so as to perfect their skills and become the best in what they do.

We are delighted that the proposal to establish the academy was adopted at the recent 53rd National Conference of the ANC in Mangaung.

We will move with greater speed in the implementation of the MGE during this year, 2013; a year we are dedicating to strengthening the cultural and creative industries in our country.

Indeed we have declared 2013 as the year of the Mzansi Golden Economy!    
Programme Director this day belongs to our artists who have made us proud through their achievements.

Congratulations to all of you. Go out there and make us proud. You leave with the best wishes of a South African nation, proud to claim you as their own.

Thank you.