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Embassy of Sweden launches digital stage for cultural exchange amid COVID-19

1 April 2020

As the impact of COVID-19 is felt across our world, the Embassy together with an array of partners in South Africa and Sweden, has created a digital performance and collaboration platform for innovative global engagement. The digital series; Sweden-South Africa Live Connection: Digitally Yours is aimed at creative industries.

The Embassy of Sweden in Pretoria and local NPO Hear my Voice are bringing together artists and stakeholders from both South Africa and Sweden through virtual roundtables and performances. The series will run from the 4th April until the 2nd May 2020. Sweden-South Africa Live Connection: Digitally Yours series will incorporate creatives from different art sectors including fashion, literature, music, spoken word, media, government and academia.

The Embassy has curated and procured the services of a range of artists to contribute to this inaugural series.

This series not only affords the opportunity for promoting income generation, co-learning and support in a time of strain, but opens a whole new opportunity for the creative industries to benefit and thrive from the digital revolution.


Minister Pandor addresses plight of South Africans stranded abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic

31 March 2020

At a press briefing Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa addressed South Africa's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with regards to South Africans stranded abroad.

(Photo from Pixabay)

Dr Pandor said that the Covid 19 pandemic is unprecedented and is giving rise to problems and challenges that governments across the world are struggling to deal with.  Over the last two months the world has changed dramatically and this impacts on governance challenges.  As DIRCO we have to focus on many fronts.  The most important one is ensuring that we play our part in curtailing the spread of the virus in our population, so as to protect the most vulnerable amongst us. International travel restrictions as part of a social distancing strategies have been implemented by many countries in the world.  These travel restrictions are accompanied by national strategies that limits movements of people through lock-downs to prevent transmission of Covid 19.


Lessons but no Learning: Bringing Asia to Africa

30 March 2020

Asia’s development since 1945 shows the power of better policy choices, and the perils of ignoring good lessons. This is one of the main arguments of The Asian Aspiration: Why and how Africa should Emulate Asia – and What It Should Avoid. The book’s four authors brought together decades of policymaking experience and first-hand exposure to Asia’s astonishing development. The result is a book that could serve as inspiration to anyone hoping that this will be Africa’s decade.

In 1968, a team of Singaporeans visited Kenya to learn lessons about their development. ‘At the time, we were then a more developed country than they were,’ remarks former Prime Minister Raila Odinga about the visit.

Some four decades later, Odinga himself was part of a study trip to Singapore with Kenyan cabinet ministers – ‘the latest in many trips taken by the Kenyan government to the island, about which no report was ever written, and where the participants kept everything to themselves.’


Locked down

25 March 2020

South Africa goes on a 21 day lockdown on Thursday 26 March at midnight in a bid to halt the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"This is a decisive measure to save lives of South Africans from infections and to save lives of hundreds of thousands of our people," said President Ramaphosa in his address to the nation.

(Image by Dilon)

It is hoped that by the minimal movement of people the spread of the virus will be slowed down. Also the tracing and testing of contacts and isolating those who are carriers of the virus to break the chain of transmission, will be greatly improved.

On 25 March the number of positive cases in South Africa had risen to 709 from 116 a week ago. Worldwide the number of cases are more than 440,000 with almost 20,000 deaths.

"While this measure will have a considerable impact on people’s livelihoods, on the life of our society and on our economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater," President Ramaphosa said.

Many countries around the world have implemented similar measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.



18 March 2020

As the Covid 19 pandemic spreads across the globe human activity has dwindled to an idle. Societal events have ground to a halt as humanity conducts an introspection. The virus has no preference of sex or gender nor discriminates on race, religion, cast or creed and is not cognisant of man, women or child, young and old. It may matter where it originated, but it matters most how and when it will end. What it is leaving behind in its wake is an exercise for humanness as animals and plants are immune from this disease.

Photo: Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and Dr Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Health at the Ministerial Media briefing on measures to combat Covid-19 epidemic, at OR Tambo building, Pretoria. 16/03/2020 (Photos: Katlholo Maifadi/DIRCO)


Taste of Japan

4 March 2020

Chef Zane from South Africa and Chef Suzuki from Japan recently collaborated to tantalize the tastebuds of patrons of the Wood and Fire Restaurant in Brooklyn, Pretoria.

l-r) Chef Suzuki, Chef Zane, Mutsumi Suzuki and Ambassador Norio Maruyama

Mr Norio Maruyama, Ambassador of Japan to South Africa brought out some fine wines from his special collection to be served with each course. The wines were from Stark Conde, a boutique winery in Stellenbosch.

The evening started with edamame beans as a welcome snack. The first course was Mozzarella Misozuke salad followed by a second course of either Temari Sushi Plate or Vegetable Tempura. The third course was a selection between Chicken Ramen and Vegetarian Udon and for the main course guests were spoilt for choice between wood fried beef fillet or slow cooked pork belly or grilled sea bass or deep fried aubergine all served with teriyaki sauce and sansho. And the sweetness of Hojicha Pann Otta ended this feast.


Diverse nations converge at Komjekejeke Heritage site to celebrate King Silamba

by Stella Sigcau

19 March 2020

Nations from various parts of Africa were represented during the 40th commemoration of King Silamba at Komjekejeke Heritage Site on 7 March 2020 including the DRC, Lesotho where Her Majesty Queen Sekhothami of amaNdebele comes from, Zambia and Zimbabwe as well as from various parts of South Africa including the Vhenda, Mpondo, Pedi and Xhosa Kingdoms.

Guests were entertained with Ndebele music, praise poetry and dances. It was a cultural celebration which included cultural diversity.  There were artists from various kingdoms who shared their cultures with the Ndebele people, notably singer and guitarist Csana from the Mpondo Kingdom who entertained the estimated 20,000 strong crowd with her music and Xhosa poet Jessica Mbangeni who has performed on international stages including in the USA, Scotland, India and various parts of Africa to mention a few. She has just returned from participating in the Bob Marley celebrations in Jamaica to attend this historic event and shared her craft with the Ndebele people. Ndebele cuisine, arts and craft were also promoted boosting the local economy as well as cultural tourism.


Qatar Sports Day

11 February 2020

National Sports Day is a public holiday in Qatar and is celebrated annually on the second Tuesday in February. The main objective of the holiday is to promote a healthy lifestyle among Qatar's population.

Photo:  Mr Tariq bin Ali-Faraj Al-Ansari, Ambassador of Qatar and Mrs Al-Ansari with Mr Kanat Tumysh, Ambassador of Kazakhstan

Mr Tariq bin Ali-Faraj Al-Ansari, Ambassador of Qatar in South Africa hosted a Sports Day at the High Performance Centre at the University of Pretoria. Activities on the day included, amongst others, soccer, volley ball, tug of war and table tennis. Healthy eating was also encouraged as fresh fruit and nuts were served to the participants.  


A Mexican installation at Nirox

10 March 2020

The ‘Axis Mundi’ by Mexican artist Paloma Torres was the latest sculpture to be unveiled at Nirox Sculpture Park which is located on 20 hectares of landscaped gardens and waterways in the Cradle of Humankind - a World Heritage Site. In introducing Torres, Mrs Ana Luisa Fajer, Ambassador of Mexico in South Africa, said that she is one of the most important contemporary artists of Mexico.

Photo: Paloma Torres, Ambassador Ana Luisa Fajer and Mr Benji Liebmann, Philanthropist and Director of Nirox Foundation pictured with students at the unveiling of the 'Axis Mundi'

Torres was an artist in residence at the Park where she collaborated with students from the University of Johannesburg and The National School of the Arts in constructing the Áxis Mundi’, which she said means the earth’s axis and in Mesoamerican mythology is interpreted as a cosmic tree.


Yemen presents Shield to Gift of the Givers

2 March 2020

Ambassador Ahmed Hassan, Chargé d'Affaires Titular of Yemen hosted a reception to welcome newly accredited Ambassadors to South Africa.

Photo: Receiving the Shield from Ambassador Hassan on behalf of Dr Sooliman is Mr Allaudin Sayed, Gift of the Givers Regional Manager

On this occasion Ambassador Hassan presented the Shield of the Embassy to Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of the Gift of the Givers as a token of appreciation and gratitude for the humanitarian support the organisation has been rendering to Yemen since 2012.




Diverse cultures of Africa: Namibia land of the brave

by Stella Sigcau

9 March 2020

Namibia, often referred to as the land of the brave due to having fought colonization and won, is home to diverse cultural groups with distinct history and heritage. Namibia apparently comes from Nama/Damara word which means "shield and is situated in the South Western part of Southern Africa with a population of approximately 2 million people. Namibia is characterised by its beautiful oceans and desert and is also rich in cultural and natural heritage which is critical to its economy.

(Image Pixabay)

The various cultural groups or tribes migrated at various times to Namibia.

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February/March 2020











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