Official opening of 22nd Africa Festival in Wurzburg, Germany

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21 May 2010

Programme Director
SA Delegation and Artists
Dr Oschmann, Organiser of the African Festival
The Diplomatic Corps
Fellow African Artists
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentleman

I am honoured to be here tonight. This year’s 22nd Africa Festival is a very special occasion indeed. The festival not only coincides with the hosting of FIFA World Cup in SA but this year’s festival is in honour of South Africa, for which we are very privileged and honored. On behalf of President Jacob Zuma and the People of South Africa, we want to extend a word of gratitude to the people of Germany and all African Countries present in this festival. Our Ambassador to Germany, Ambassador Eddie Funde is unable to be with us tonight as he was in an accident and is in hospital presently. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Early this year, I was invited by Germany to attend the ITB, the biggest tourist Indaba in the world. During my stay, I had the opportunity and was honoured to meet with the Minister of Culture and Media of Germany, Mr Bernd Neumann. We had a wide ranging discussion at how we can raise the profile of Culture in each other’s country’s to a new level. We also had discussion on concrete discussions on South Africa’s readiness to host the biggest football show in world, film, performing arts and heritage.

Shortly after our meeting our two countries met for the Bi-national Commission led by both Deputy Presidents to further strengthen relations between our countries. I’m pleased that the discussion I had with the Minister of Culture and Media were captured in the discussion and final communication. We look forward to more contracts between our people in the area of Arts and Culture.
In exactly 22 days from today the world will descend on South Africa to witness and participate in the biggest sporting event in human history, the FIFA World Cup. South Africa is ready and we have been planning from the word “go”. The doubting Thomasses had their fair share of skepticism. But there has always been two options of where the world cup should be hosted and both of them were in Africa. We invite all of you to another African party under the African sky.

The Premier of the documentary on one of the greatest daughters of Africa, Miriam Makeba, though, I think you will also agree with me, that Mirriam Makeba is also the daughter of the World. Mama Africa as she was fondly known has graced many musical stages all over the world. She has performed for many Kings and Queens, Presidents and Leaders in many states of the world. Her music is not just entertainment, but more, she fought for human rights and the liberation of people in South Africa and everywhere where there was oppression and injustice. We are indeed as a Country Honoured that her work is receiving the recognition it deserves. People will continue to sing her story of triumph against oppression which continues to inspire many.

Miriam Makeba herself has performed at this prestigious Africa Festival in Wurzburg five times in her lifetime, that alone is testimony to her work and achievement. We are happy to welcome the co-producers of the Miriam Makeba Documentary, Mike Kaurismaki and Don Edkins, to this Festival.

Another great artist from our country who has attained world status is Jonas Gwanga. He has performed to audiences around the world during his exile days and continues to do so even today. He is a great composer and was the first South African artist to be short-listed for the Oscar Awards. He contributed very strongly to our country and the liberation struggle by training and mentoring potential musicians and performers from the ranks of Umkhonto We Sizwe, who formed the Amandla Cultural Ensemble. Amandla became a household name in many centres of the world providing people with the history of oppression and struggle in our country pre-1994. Jonas Gwanga was awarded the National Order of Ikhamanga Gold recently. This particular National Order is awarded to arts practitioners who have distinguished themselves in their field. We are glad to have him and his lovely wife, Violet, with us tonight.

We have a cluster of very good South African artists performing here tonight and throughout the Festival. I hope you enjoy this feast of music. Thank you once again, Germany and the organizers of this Festival for Honouring South Africa this year. I welcome you all heartily to join us for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.