Africa Day pause and reflect with Zuma, ministers

2016-05-25 22:31
(Erin Bates, News24)

(Erin Bates, News24)

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WATCH: South Africa's 'melting pot' celebrates Africa Day

2016-05-25 12:43

Gauteng Provincial Government and the Africa Diaspora Forum together hosted a joyous and colourful Africa Day celebration in Yeoville on Wednesday. Watch. WATCH

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa entered the dining hall at Cape Town International Convention Centre to applause from diplomats and guests. More than a hundred diners sat at tables decked with fynbos, satin tablecloths and glassware.

Guests drank fine wines as they were were served by catering staff. Performers from the Market Theatre sang as black and white photographs of African slaves with visible scars, limbs chopped off, and chains around their necks, appeared on a screen. 

“My bloodline is a timeline of who birthed me,” said a performer in a spoken word poetry reading. Guests, including government ministers, were dressed for the glamorous occasion – a gala dinner in recognition of Africa Day. Earlier the day, Ramaphosa answered questions in the National Assembly while Zuma met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Minister Naledi Pandor said the occasion provided “an opportunity to reflect on the journey thus far” and to consider what still needed to be done to better the lives of people on the continent.

Pandor praised the achievements of the South African government under the leadership of her boss, Zuma. She spoke of Africans as “active participants in improving our future” and called for “all the human potential for development” to be unleashed.

She spoke of pan-Africanism and the slave trade in Europe and the United States, which was built on trafficking Africans across the seas. “As we pay today homage to our African heroes and heroines past and present we must reflect what still needs to be done,” said Pandor.

Zuma began his speech with a joke, saying when he was the keynote speaker at such events he was provided with neither the key nor the note. The audience laughed and he began reading his speech.

He began providing context on the formation of what is now called the African Union, initially the Organisation of African Unity, in Ethiopia on May 25 1963. Zuma spoke of those leaders who sacrificed their lives, or portions thereof, in wrestling independence from colonial powers.

“When we meet and celebrate today we celebrate victories, but also those who sacrificed with their lives. Of course it had to take Africans to stand up on their own to liberate themselves.”

Zuma spoke about the need to promote trade between African countries, develop the ocean economy and industrialise economies historically exploited for their mineral wealth. Africa should have a modern infrastructure, he said.

He touched on conflict in Africa, saying it impaired the African Union’s progress towards development goals. "We want an Africa that is at peace with itself," said #Zuma before emphasizing the safety of women, children and displaced persons. Zuma concluded by wishing his guests a “very wonderful evening” at the Africa Day gala. 

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  cape town

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