South African Embassy Celebrates Freedom Day in Astana

ASTANA – The Embassy of South Africa in Astana celebrated its country’s Freedom Day on April 27 with a reception in the Astana Marriott Hotel attended by members of the diplomatic corps in the city and representatives of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Freedom Day marks South Africa’s first open, democratic elections as well as the end of apartheid rule. 

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Writer, essayist Bakhithozha Rustemov (c) presented the first two copies of Nelson Mandela’s quotations book in Kazakh to Deputy Minister of Foreign affairs Askar Mussinov (r) and Ambassador of South Africa to Kazakhstan Shirish Soni (l).

“This day symbolises the South African people’s efforts in their struggle toward freedom and liberty under the leadership of Nelson Mandela,” Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Askar Mussinov said in his address to the reception. “It celebrates freedom and commemorates the first post-apartheid elections held on that day in 1994. … We must always remember and pay tribute to the ‘long walk to freedom’ by the great leader and teacher, Nelson Mandela. His lifelong struggle with racism, poverty, and injustice transformed him into an international icon for human dignity and freedom, for peace and reconciliation. Nelson Mandela left to us eternal values and a legacy as a teacher of freedom and peace, justice and tolerance.” 

Mussinov went on to comment on South Africa’s development since then, and the expanding bilateral cooperation between the two countries. He also said Kazakhstan looked forward to the visit of President of South Africa Jacob Zuma to Astana later this year.

Ambassador of South Africa to Kazakhstan Shirish Soni noted that this year marks another, older milestone in South Africa’s history. “This year marks 60 years since a historic moment in our history, when South Africans adopted the Freedom Charter, a vision for a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa, in 1955, in Kliptown,” he said. “The 3,000 delegates who gathered at Kliptown on June 25 and 26, 1955, were workers, peasants, women, youths and students of all races and colours. They declared that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people.”

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Having performed national dances, an African dancing troupe sang songs in Afrikaans, English, Russian and Kazakh.

Relations between South Africa and Kazakhstan are also passing a milestone, Soni said: Last year, Kazakhstan opened an embassy in South Africa. “Kazakhstan has also increased its focus on the African continent and opened a mission in Ethiopia with observer status to the African Union,” the ambassador said. “During 2015 we are planning various high level visits of government officials and business persons to foster the relationships between South Africa and Kazakhstan further. Both countries will focus on promoting stronger economic cooperation in the areas of joint investments, industry and trade.”

Soni also congratulated President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev on his recent re-election as president and commented that in his opinion, Nazarbayev followed in the footsteps of Mandela. “I invite all of us gathered here today to nominate President Nursultan Nazarbayev to receive the United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize,” he said. 

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