Remarks by Mduduzi Mbada on behalf of Minister Paul Mashatile at a dinner in honour of South African opera singer Pretty Yende

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01 Aug 2013

Programme Director

Our Guest of honour, Ms Pretty Yende

Our artists

Officials from the Department of Arts and Culture

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen:

On behalf of Minister Mashatile we meet here this evening to honour, celebrate and pay tribute to one of our country’s finest artists who continues to take the world by storm.

It is fitting that we celebrate Pretty Yende s achievements at the beginning of Women’s Month; a month dedicated to honoring the important role played by women in all spheres of the South African life.

During this month and beyond, we say to women like Pretty; Malibongwe igama lamakhosikazi.

As a testament to her extraordinary talent, Pretty Yende, was once described as a soprano of real musical intelligence. We agree with this description and today we add that she is a soprano with real musical intelligence and outstanding talent.

As we know, Pretty Yende has won many major voice competitions in the world. She has also made spectacular debuts on major world stages including at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Pretty, we are proud of your achievements. We are privileged to call you one of our own.

From humble beginnings in Piet Rietief, Mpumalanga, you are now celebrated worldwide.

You are a shining star; and living proof that South African talent ranks up there with the best in the world.

By excelling in the complex and sophisticated genre of Opera music, you have transcended barriers. You have proven your worth in a genre of the arts that few African people dare to enter.

In many ways you are a pioneer. You join pioneers such as Sibongile Khumalo, Mimi Coertse and many others whose opera voices have made their mark on the local and international stage.

You continue to fly the South African flag high. In you we have a true Ambassador of South African musical talent. You are indeed an inspiration to our younger generation.

It is for this reason that early this year, President Zuma, bestowed on you one of our country’s highest honours; the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver.

This honour was in recognition of your excellent achievement and international acclaim in the field of world opera and for serving as a role model to aspiring young musicians.

Going forward we hope you will continue to use your beautiful voice to tell the South African story to the world.

We also hope your voice will serve as a window, allowing the world to see what South Africa is truly about.

We expect of you to continue to use the power of music to bring people together; to make the point, once more, that as humanity what unites us far outweighs that which divides us.

We have no doubt that you will continue to inspire up and coming musicians, especially those intending to follow opera.

We are delighted therefore that the department of Arts and Culture has made a commitment to support you in the work that you do.

We also hope to work with you in encouraging more young people, including young women, to become opera singers.

This we are doing because we are aware that; out there, in all parts of our country, there are many who aspire to be like Pretty Yende.

On a daily basis these highly talented South Africans do everything in their power, often with limited or no 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.

All that these talented South Africans require is support, training and space to show case their amazing talent.

They look up to stars such as you Pretty Yende and believe that they too will be able to build for themselves sustainable livelihoods from the arts.

Through various interventions, including implementing our Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy, as the Department of Arts and Culture we will continue to channel massive public sector investment into the arts; creating more opportunities for our artists to be the best they can be, both locally and internationally.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this evening belongs to our guest of honour, Pretty Yende.

To her we say, once again, continue flying the South African flag and we look forward to your contribution to the arts in our country.

I take this opportunity to urge all South Africans to support Pretty Yende as she will be performing at the Linder Auditorium tomorrow and later in her home town of Piet Rietief.

I wish you all a pleasant evening.

Thank you.