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  National
South Africa Marks Freedom Day with Reception
Amb. Kubheka Invites Hundreds at Shilla Hotel April 27
S. African Amb. Kubheka (right) poses with his wife (center) and Information Minister Chin Dae-Je at Shilla reception April 27

South African Ambassador to Seoul Sydney Bafana Kubheka hosted a reception to mark the 11th anniversary of South Africa's Freedom Day in commemoration of South Africa's democracy at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul on April 27, 2005.

Mr. Kubheka delivered a speech in front of about 200 high-profile guests gathered to celebrate the South Africa's most important holiday. He mentioned how South Africans usually observe the Freedom Day and also thanked each of the distinguished guests for attending.

"The Freedom Day event in Seoul has also been a celebration of the strong and growing partnership between Korea and South Africa and an opportunity for our Korean guests to experience aspects of the South African lifestyle," the top South African envoy said in his speech.

Egyptian Amb. Helmy (center) poses with other ambassadors.

Freedom Day is a celebration of the South Africa's first democratic elections that took place on April 27, 1994. Before these first democratic elections, not all people in South Africa were treated equally.

Under a system called "Apartheid," only certain people had the right to choose their own leaders. Since April 1994, all of South Africa's people over the age of 18 had the right to vote for whomever they want, without being afraid.

The reception held at Shilla's Emerald Room was attended by a number of VIP guests including top foreign envoys and other senior diplomats serving in Seoul.

S. African Amb. Kubheka poses with Dr. Hae-Jung Jung.

They included Amb. Rene Francisco Umana (Chinchilla) of Honduras, Amb. Amb. Zaid Al-Sherida of Kuwait, Amb. Uzi Manor of Israel, Amb. Babiker Ali Khalifa of Sudan, Amb. Ahriz Abdelmoun'aam of Algeria, Amb. Abdul Maquit Mahmuduzzaman of Bangladesh, Amb. Lim Samkol of Cambodia, Amb. Carlos M.L. Frota of Portugal, Amb. Gunayavedalage. Wijayasiri of Sri Lanka, Amb. Toshiyuki Takano of Japan, Amb. Othman Jerandi of Tunisia, Amb. Hussein Rammal of Lebanon, and Amb. Saleh M. Al-Rajhy of Saudi Arabia.

A South African string quartet accompanied the South African luncheon party all the way. The Ntombizodwa (girls only) String Quartet is made up of four young Soweto girls who have been trained in the African Cultural Organization of South Africa (ACOSA) Soweto Music Conservatoire in South Africa.

S. African Amb. Kubheka is suggesting a toast at the reception.

They have performed for President Thabo Mbeki at presidential banquets hosting international Heads of State and also held performances in London and Berlin. Besides playing classical pieces, Ntombizodwa's repertoire includes South African traditional music, some folk songs, and their own compositions.

During this occasion, Amb. Kubheka also officially announced the10 winners of the essay writing competition held at a Korean high school in 2004. The winners will visit South Africa as guests of South African Tourism and South African Airways.

Several Korean dignitaries were also present. In particular, South Korea's Information and Communication Minister Chin Dae-Je attended and gave congratulation to the South African ambassador on behalf of South Korean government.

The Ntombizodwa (girls only) String Quartet

The South Afirca's highest diplomat in Seoul is scheduled to go back to his country to serve at its Foreign Ministry coming June, according to embassy sources.

The standing buffet, which started at 12 p.m., lasted for some two hours.


Country profile: South Africa

Diversity is a key feature of South Africa, where 11 languages are recognised as official, where community leaders include rabbis and chieftains, rugby players and returned exiles, where traditional healers ply their trade around the corner from stockbrokers and where housing ranges from mud huts to palatial homes with swimming pools.

The diverse communities, however, have not had much representation for long.

S. African Amb. Kubheka (3rd from left) poses with VIP guests.

OVERVIEW

Until 1994 South Africa was ruled by a white minority which considered itself superior, and which was so determined to hang onto power that it took activists most of last century before they succeeded in their fight to get rid of apartheid and extend democracy to the rest of the population.

The white governments had grand social engineering schemes which separated the races and involved the forced resettlement of hundreds of thousands of people. They poisoned and bombed opponents and encouraged trouble in neighbouring countries.

The apartheid government eventually negotiated itself out of power, and the new leadership encouraged reconciliation. But the cost of the years of conflict will be paid for a long time yet, not least in terms of lawlessness, social disruption and lost education.

Guests gatthered at Shilla Hotel for S. Africa's Freedom Day event.

South Africa faces major problems, but having held three successful national elections as well as local polls since the end of white rule, a democratic culture appears to be taking hold, allowing people at least some say in the search for solutions.

FACTS

  • Population: 45.3 million (UN, 2005)
  • Capital: Pretoria
  • Area: 1.22m sq km (470,693 sq miles)
  • Major languages: 11 official languages including English, Afrikaans, Sesotho, Setswana, Xhosa and Zulu
  • Major religion: Christianity, Islam, indigenous beliefs
  • Life expectancy: 45 years (men), 51 years (women)
  • Monetary unit: 1 Rand = 100 cents
  • Main exports: Gold, diamonds, metals and minerals, cars, machinery
  • GNI per capita: US $2,780 (World Bank, 2003)
  • Internet domain: .za
  • International dialling code: +27

S. African Amb. Kubheka (center) with other VIP guests.


LEADERS

President: Thabo Mbeki

Thabo Mbeki was elected by parliament to a second five-year term in April 2004 following the landslide general election victory of his ruling ANC.

Mr Mbeki took over as president when Nelson Mandela stepped down in mid-1999, but he is considered to have in fact ruled the country almost since the ANC became South Africa's first democratically elected government in April 1994.

He was born in 1942 into one of the leading families of black politics and has been close to the heart of the struggle against apartheid all his life. His father, Govan, was a leading thinker in the South African Communist Party.

Mr Mbeki played a central role both in planning the armed insurrection that caused the first cracks in the edifice of white rule and in the talks that led to its end.

He has been criticised for questioning the link between HIV and Aids and for failing to condemn the land invasions in Zimbabwe.

  • Deputy president: Jacob Zuma
  • Foreign minister: Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
  • Finance minister: Trevor Manuel

    S. African Amb. Kubheka (left), Mrs. ambassador, and Saudi Arabian Amb. Saleh Bin Mansour Al-Rajhy at the reception.

    South Africa is the continent's major media player, and its many broadcasters and publications reflect the diversity of the population as a whole.

    Well-established state-run and commercial TV networks broadcast nationally, and hundreds of thousands of viewers subscribe to pay-TV services operated by major cable and satellite company Multichoice.

    Deregulation in 1996 led to a proliferation of radio stations. Listeners in Johannesburg alone can choose from among some 40 radio services, from the national broadcasts of the state-owned South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to community stations targeting local neighbourhoods or ethnic groups.

    Bangladesh Amb. Abdul Maquit Mahmuduzzaman and his wife received by Mrs. Kubheka, wife of the S. African ambassador.

    The constitution provides for freedom of the press, and this is generally respected in practice. Laws, regulation and political control of media content are considered to be moderate and there is little evidence of repressive measures against journalists.

    Newspapers and magazines publish reports and comment critical of the government and the state-owned SABC is far more independent now than during the apartheid era.

    The press

  • The Star — Johannesburg-based daily, city's oldest newspaper
  • The Sowetan — Johannesburg-based tabloid
  • Daily Sun — mass-circulation tabloid
  • Beeld — largest Afrikaans daily
  • Mail and Guardian — upmarket weekly
  • Business Day — daily
  • Financial Mail — business weekly
  • Sunday Times — South Africa's oldest Sunday newspaper

    South African Embassy's Economic Counsellor Sake van der Wal (second from left) poses with his wife and other guests.

    Television

  • SABC — state broadcaster, operates three national TV networks, two pay-TV channels
  • e.tv — free-to-air commercial network
  • M-Net — pay-TV, pan-African audience

    Radio

  • SABC — state broadcaster with 20 regional and national services in 11 languages, including: national English-language network SAfm; contemporary music station 5 FM; national Afrikaans station Radio Sonder Grense; national Zulu station Ukhozi FM; Sesotho station Lesedi FM
  • Channel Africa — SABC's external radio service, targeted at the African continent
  • YFM — popular Johannesburg commercial R&B, soul and hip-hop station
  • 702 Talk Radio — Johannesburg commercial news and talk station

    News agency

  • South African Press Association (SAPA)


  • Related Articles
        “Freedom Day” Marked in Seoul
        S. Africa Marks Freedom Day with Reception
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        South Africa Marks 10th Freedom Day


     

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