SOUTH AFRICAN EMBASSY CELEBRATES NELSON MANDELA CENTENARY
2 018 marks the centennial of the birth of Nelson Mandela (1918–2013), the South African icon in the struggle against apartheid. The South African Government has named 2018, the “Mandela Centenary Year” to celebrate the life, times and legacy of the man. In Beijing, the Embassy of South Africa held a ceremony on October 13 to celebrate Mandela’s life through a series of portraits, videos and live cultural performances.
Mandela was born on July 18, 1918 and conducted a half-century-long struggle to overthrow the racist white rule in South Africa. In 1963, following the famous Rivonia Trial, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and began serving 27 years alongside his co-accused. He became the focus of global attention several times during his incarceration and exerted extensive influence across the world. Thousands of city mayors from 53 countries signed a petition for Mandela’s release; in Britain, 78 members of parliament issued a joint declaration and 50 city mayors joined a demonstration in London calling for the British prime minister to exert pressure on the South African government to release Mandela.
Finally, Nelson Mandela become the country’s first black president, ushering in a democratic and unified era in South Africa. He was not only a renowned pacifist in political circles of Africa, but across the world in the 1990s. The African National Congress (ANC) he led played an important role in ending racism in South Africa. A new South Africa was born in April 1994, marking the completion of the mission to fight imperialism, colonialism and racial segregation in Africa. Mandela enjoyed a high level of fame and was honoured as the “world’s president.” Known as the “smiling ambassador” because of his ever-present smile, he was a modest, inclusive, upright and wise human being.
The celebration selected key moments from Mandela’s election as president of South Africa in 1994 until his death on December 5, 2013. The South African Government has been dedicated to the realisation of Mandela’s vision of a democratic, just and equitable society.
In addition, a short promotional video was shown, demonstrating the charms of South Africa, its world-renowned cuisine including high quality and fresh tasting products such as beef, rooibos tea and wine, as well as locally-made cosmetics and traditional beads.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Africa and China. The relations have developed rapidly from partnership relations in 2000, to a strategic partnership in 2004 and comprehensive strategic partnership relations in 2010. Since 2009, China has been South Africa’s largest trade partner and South Africa is also China’s largest trade partner on the African continent. The two countries greatly value people-to-people communication and the “South Africa Year” in China was held in 2014, with the “China Year” in South Africa held the following year. The rapid expansion and deepening of bilateral relations cannot be separated from the support of bilateral committees, joint working groups, bilateral exchange mechanisms and strategic dialogues. Frequent high-level visits have led to the fostering of friendly relations between the leaders of the two countries.