Arab world celebrates Mandela
THE SECOND Arab Cultural Week is to be held at venues across Pretoria from October 22. This year’s event will be a celebration of the centenary of Nelson Mandela under the umbrella of the Arab League.
Also being celebrated is Jerusalem, which a few years ago was declared the permanent capital of Arab culture.
The event seeks to promote an understanding and appreciation of cultural differences as the basis for cultivating acceptance and tolerance, said the committee’s spokesperson, Ambassador of Jordan Ibrahim Awawdeh. It’s aim is to underline the message that diversity is at the centre of a thriving world characterised by peaceful co-existence.
Cultural events to be held during the week range from dance, music, poetry, plastic artists to film and cuisine – and all are free of charge.
The Council of Arab Ambassadors in Pretoria, the patrons of the event, has gone out of its way to invite members of the public to come and enjoy themselves and learn about Arab culture.
The dean of Arab ambassadors, the Ambassador of Kuwait Hasan Al-Okab, chairs the council; within the council is the Arab Cultural Committee of which Palestinian Ambassador Hashan Dajani is chairperson.
The Pretoria News spoke to the committee’s spokesperson, Awawdeh, who highlighted the importance of the cultural week and its goals.
“We are holding this as a contribution from our side as Arab ambassadors to the celebrations being held in South Africa for the centenary of Nelson Mandela.
“Africa and the Arab world have a lot in common. A number of Arab countries are located in Africa and the two entities share similar values, including peace, freedom as well as friendship and devotion to the ideals of sharing and giving,” Awawdeh said.
He noted that South Africa had a special place in the Arab collective heart, pointing out this was borne out by the fact that Pretoria had the second-highest Arab diplomatic representation in the world after the UN.
“South Africa, as a country that has broken from its colonial past to freedom, is a country we can relate to. This Cultural Week will be a window for South Africans to look into the Arab world and enjoy by immersing themselves in the Arab scene.”