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Before Sleep - Holocaust Remembrance Day

1 February 2020

The 27th of January 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz & UN Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was on this day in 1945 that the people in Auschwitz, the biggest concentration camp ever created for human beings, were freed by the Red Army of the Soviet Union.  It was only in 2005 that the United Nations declared 27 January as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Photo: Mrs Elif Çomoğlu Űlgen, Ambassador of Turkey presenting pianist Renan Koen with a bouquet of flowers

Commemorating this day Mrs Elif Çomoğlu Űlgen, Ambassador of Turkey hosted Turkish pianist Renan Koen who performed at the Turkish Residence.  Koen played a repertoire ‘Before Sleep’ by composers Gideon Klein and Viktor Ullman.  Both were murdered in the concentration camps and the pieces played by Renan depicted the horrors suffered in these camps. 


Australia remains open for business

1 February 2020

Welcoming guests to Australia Day Mrs Gita Kamath, High Commissioner of Australia to South Africa began by acknowledging the Aboriginal land on which Australia was founded, and paying respect to traditional elders past and present.

Photo: Mrs Gita Kamath, High Commissioner of Australia to South Africa welcoming guests

The purpose of Australia Day said Kamath “is about recognizing and celebrating the contribution that every Australian makes to our diverse and dynamic nation. From our first Australians - who are proud custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture - to those like my own family who have come from all corners of the globe and have the immense privilege of calling Australia home.”

Exhibited at Australia House were paintings from the Ifa Lethu collection, a small selection of the over 300 art works – paintings, drawings, sculptures, wood carvings, and prints, currently in the collection. Kamath shared with guests how the collection came to be saying that it is a remarkable tale of diplomacy, activism, courage and hope.


Celebrating REGGAE Month 2020 … Come Ketch Di Riddim

6 February 2020
By H.E. Angella Comfort, High Commissioner of Jamaica

This year, 2020, marks the start of a new decade with all the excitement and anticipation that such a milestone brings.  

For the lovers of Reggae music in Jamaica, on the African continent and the world over, the month of February is significant for the celebration of the rich cultural history of Reggae. February 6th, 2020, marks the 75th Anniversary of the birth of Robert Nesta Marley (lovingly known to all as Bob Marley) and during this month, the Government and people of Jamaica will welcome visitors from the world over for the 13th staging of Reggae Month activities.  

Many South Africans will also remember that August 2020 will mark the 56th Anniversary of the birth of Reggae Icon and son of the soil, Lucky Dube who holds a special place in the hearts of South Africans and Jamaicans as he was the first African Reggae superstar to perform on the island.  A talented and prolific artist, Lucky Dube released 22 albums in 3 different languages and although he is no longer with us in person, his sprit remains vibrant and alive through his music and that of his offspring Nkulee Dube.
Reggae Music – The Heartbeat of Jamaica.


Ecuadorian Coffee Tasting

3 February 2020

Ecuador is one of only 15 countries that grow both Arabica and Robusta beans, the two main categories of coffee. Coffee beans are grown in different regions throughout this biodiverse country resulting in coffee with different characteristics.

Photo: Mrs Maria Soledad Cordova, Ambassador of Ecuador in South Africa

A coffee tasting was hosted by Mrs Maria Soledad Cordova, Ambassador of Ecuador in South Africa where guests were treated to coffee from the Mountains of Ecuador and from the Galapagos Islands. Enjoyed without milk and sugar, as this is how Cordova said the distinct flavours of each blend can be savoured, the guests each shared their preference. The coffee from the islands was light and slightly fruity whereas the altitude one was stronger with a hint of chocolate.


Exploring the cultures and environmental heritage of South African Kingdoms: Komjekejeke Heritage Site

by Stella Sigcau

3 February 2020

KoMjekejeke, it is reported came from the word Jekezela, which means in isiNdebele language “to live in comfort and abundance”. The Komjekejeke heritage site situated in Walmansthal, outside Pretoria is home to the annual King Silamba commemoration and carries a rich history which goes back to the 1800s.

It is reported that this land was occupied in 1873 by the Ndebele people whose King was Silamba. Apparently in 1860 a bitter clash over land occurred leading to King Silamba and his people moving after great resistance with the Dutch farmer JG Bronkhorstand his allies to KoMjekejeke.


The palm oil paradox: What Asia can learn from Gabon

A view of palm fruit in Sampoinet, Aceh Jaya, Indonesia, 27 April 2019 (issued 16 May 2019). EPA-EFE/HOTLI SIMANJUNTAK

By Luveshni Odayar

28 January 2020

Palm oil is universally viewed as one of the most destructive monocultures globally, contributing to massive deforestation and wherever it is grown, exacerbating the climate crisis. But the biodiversity-rich African nation of Gabon is developing an innovative approach to offsetting its destructive environmental effects.

Accounting for roughly one-third of the world’s annual vegetable oil production, palm oil — cultivated in the Asian, African and Latin American tropics — constitutes the most widely consumed, traded and high-yielding vegetable oil commodity in the world. The controversial cash crop, native to West Africa, is cheap to produce, generates five to eight times more oil per hectare than other oil crops such as soybean, sunflower and rapeseed, and is ubiquitous, found in everything from processed foods, cosmetics, biofuels and candles, to soaps and detergents.

To put its pervasiveness into perspective — about 50% of products stocked in supermarkets contain palm oil. In response to its multifarious uses and growing market demand, the global extent of palm cultivation has increased exponentially, with 75% of production traded internationally. The global palm oil industry, valued at $65.73-billion in 2015, has been projected to reach a staggering $92.84-billion by 2021.

Such predictions alone are enough to strike despondency, or catalyse anti-dystopian demonstrations, among those more environmentally inclined. The unrelenting rise in the demand for palm oil drives ongoing deforestation at a devastating scale, resulting in the widespread loss of biodiversity and natural habitats — threatening extinction of countless species of flora and fauna that cannot exist within palm monocultures, and a reduction in ecosystem services — for example, the rapid degradation of the dwindling carbon sinks provided by tropical rainforests results in the emission of trapped carbon into the atmosphere, exacerbating the current climate crisis calamity.


South Africa is on an Investment Drive says Ramaphosa

Photo: (l-r) Major General Gaudence Milanzi of Tanzania, Mr Mohamed Ali Mire of  Somalia, Mr Tariq bin Ali-Faraj AL-Ansari of Qatar, Mr Rachid Benlounes of     Algeria, Mr Ante Cicvarić of Croatia, Ms Lana Marks of the USA, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Mr Pavel Rezac of the Czech Republic,  Mr Baba Saidy Fatajo of The Gambia, Mrs Hanan Jarrar of Palestine, Mr Sultan Bin Abdullah Al-Angari of Saudi Arabia and Ms Sarah Catherine Lee of New Zealand(credit Katlholo Maifadi - Dirco)

28 January 2020

Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the occasion of the Presentation Of Credentials by Heads of Mission accredited to South Africa

I am extremely pleased to welcome all of you to our beautiful country.

It is my sincere hope that, beyond your official duties over the next few years, you will come to truly embrace the richness of our country.

It is my hope that you will come to learn our languages and cultures as much as we will learn yours.

We are a nation founded on unity in diversity.

The Freedom Charter – the document upon which our constitutional order is built – enjoins us to ensure that a free and democratic South Africa works for peace and friendship between the nations of the world.

In this regard, I am honoured to be welcoming to our shores High Commissioners and Ambassadors charged precisely with the responsibility to advance the friendship that exists between our respective countries.


Business called to support Africa's economic aspirations

Photo: Africa Heads of Mission Conference held at the Department of International Relations (credit: Yolande Snyman/Dirco)

28 January 2020

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the South African business sector to form part of the collective national effort to advance the interests of the country and continent.

He made the call at the first of several interactions with business as South Africa prepares to assume chairship of the African Union in February 2020.

“This is a journey that we should walk together for the benefit of the country and the benefit of the continent,” he said on Tuesday in Pretoria.

Earlier in the day, the President addressed the South African Heads of Mission accredited to countries on the African continent, where he outlined South Africa’s priorities for its term at the helm of the continental body.

These include economic integration across the continent and the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the economic and financial inclusion of women and the fight against gender-based violence, as well as the promotion of good governance.

In the meeting with business, the President welcomed the operationalisation of the AfCFTA in July 2020 as a historic moment and the opening of a new era for the continent.

Once in effect, the AfCFTA would constitute the largest common market in the world, composed of over one billion people and a combined GDP of more than US$3.3 trillion.

It is tipped to develop the type of inclusive development path that is essential to Africa’s long-term prosperity.

The President called on business to work with government on concrete measures to realise Africa’s aspirations, saying that the legacy of the AfCFTA will be enhanced intra-African trade and jobs and prosperity for the people of Africa.

The meeting identified the need to reinvigorate South Africa’s leadership of the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative as infrastructure is central to the resolution of Africa’s social, economic and political challenges.

“To this end, the President has urged business to facilitate greater levels of intra-African investments focusing specifically on trade-enabling infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities,” said the Presidency in a statement following the engagement on Tuesday evening.

While appreciating a number of challenges confronted by some businesses operating in other countries on the continent, business leaders committed themselves to working in partnership with governments for the sustainable development of Africa as a whole, the statement read.

“Guided by government’s guidelines for good business practice for companies operating on the rest of the continent, South African business stands ready to support Africa’s industrialisation and growth.

“The President has welcomed the frank engagement with business as the starting point for a more structured approach to cooperation between government and the private sectors around a common African economic agenda,” said the Presidency. –


South Africans and Ethiopians - a kindred relation

23 January 2020

Looking back on Ethiopia’s rich history, and its relations with South Africa, it is surprising that Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr Abiy Ahmed Ali’s visit to South Africa is the first official visit by an Ethiopian Head of State to this country. This was, in fact, the first state-level visit either way between the two of African countries.

Photo: President Cyril Ramaphosa and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali ahead of Official Talks at the Union Buildings. (Kopano Tlape GCIS)

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali was the chief guest at the 108th anniversary of the African National Congress (ANC), the majority political party in South Africa’s democratically constituted parliament under the presidency of President Cyril Ramaphosa. While in South Africa, Prime Minister Abiy addressed the Ethiopian diaspora at a rally in Johannesburg.


UNDP: Influencing the Global Development Agenda

By Srimal Fernando

The establishment of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ushered a new era during the course of United Nations (UNs) exemplary journey.   In September 2000 at the Millennium Summit the world leaders pledged to reduce poverty by 2015 focusing on the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

(Photo credit Pixabay)

After all, the UNDP has been able to take the lead in accomplishing global impact on humanitarian priorities.  As a result of this effort the UNDP played a pivotal role in taking a billion people out of extreme poverty by reducing global poverty by half over the last 30 years. 


Vladimir Putin on the Priorities of Russia’s Presidency in BRICS

2 January 2020

'BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Common Security and Innovative Growth'

Over the past 10 years, BRICS has achieved serious results and has gained a reputation as a respected association. At the same time, the coordination mechanisms established within BRICS make it possible to cooperate effectively in politics, security, trade, finance and culture.

It is important that the BRICS countries closely cooperate in addressing global and regional problems. Together we speak in favour of strict compliance with the norms of international law and the central role of the United Nations in international affairs. Our countries promote influence of developing countries in the global management system, as well the establishment of a more just global order.

The BRICS member states consistently deepen mutually beneficial economic ties, strengthen trade and investment flow and together address such important tasks as industrial upgrading, the introduction of innovation technologies, and improvement in our people’s welfare.

Starting January 1, 2020, Russia will chair BRICS.


Russia lays wreath at Wall of Names

13 December 2019

The inscriptions with the names of 67 Soviet military specialists who sacrificed their lives to assist the liberation struggle in Southern Africa were unveiled last year at Freedom Park.

Speaking at the annual commemoration on 13 December 2019, Mr. Ilya Rogachev, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of South Africa said that the Soviet people provided multifaceted support to many African liberation movements, including the anti-apartheid one. “Military expertise, financial aid, personnel training, consistent and continuing support in the international arena – these are just some of the aspects of this substantial assistance.”  


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February/March 2020














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