Today, we gather here to pay homage to one of our most revered and loved artists - Oom Ray, also fondly known as Bra Ray and Tata Ray and Chikapa - because first and foremost he was an uncle and brother to us all, a member of the family and a true patriot who loved this country with all his heart.
Today, we meet here on a day which has significance in our history as the 23rd May marks the 23 anniversary of admission of our country as the 53rd member state of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU), in Tunis, Tunisia.
Today we come together to outline our programme for Africa Month, as we celebrate our Africanness, work towards African integration and reflect on where we have come from in order to map the road ahead.
Our primary mission is to serve the people and this historic launch of the South Africa- China High Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism is destined to do just that.
Fellow Africans lend me your ear, the Premier institution of higher learning in Gabon, Omar Bongo University has instructed me to be part of their efforts to keep memory of those sons and daughters of our continent who contributed in our efforts to deal with historical injustice alive.
Tonight before I start my talk, I want to deliver a message of appreciation from the President of Republic of South Africa, President JG Zuma to the Esteemed President Ali Bongo of the Republic of Gabon and to the Gabonese.
Fellow South Africans we have gathered here not to mourn the untimely passing of Lundi Tyamara but to celebrate his life and contribution he has made in our national effort towards nation building and social cohesion through song.
As we mark the 5th edition of the Mbokodo Awards, we do so with great pride and anticipation – we are proud that these awards for Women in the Arts have come so far and reached their 5th milestone. We are also in a state of anticipation as we look forward to the announcement of the winners of this year’s awards.
As we gather here as leaders and heritage practitioners from all over the world, I am reminded of the importance and necessity of inspired and committed leadership, in addressing the problems of the world as well as the protection and promotion of the cultural heritage of the world.
It was almost a year ago on the 24 November 2016 that we gathered together as the Arts, Culture and Heritage Sector in a meeting of minds on the future of the arts.