Newsletter 07/12

The Tour de France celebrates Nelson Mandela’s birthday

The French Committee for South Africa was keen to ensure that Nelson Mandela’s birthday on 18 July 2012, an event celebrated all over the world, would have a special place in France.
On the day, schoolchildren in Pau (Pyrénées Atlantiques) held up a banner at the start line of the 16th stage of the Tour de France, wishing the Nobel Peace Prize winner a Happy Birthday.
The Committee is lobbying for Mandela’s first visit to France, on 7 June 1990, to be commemorated on the Esplanade des Droits de l’Homme (esplanade of human rights) at Trocadéro, where Mandela made a speech.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma elected Chair of the African Union Commission

Madame Dlamini-Zuma, a former foreign minister of South Africa, is the first woman to head the African Union Commission.
On 18 August 2004, she presided over the opening of the conference organised by the Committee to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the new South Africa.

Aung San Suu Kyi arrives to a warm welcome in France on 27 June 2012

France has reiterated its support for Aung San Suu Kyi’s campaign to pursue the transition to democracy under way in Burma.
 South  Africa, which intervened in 2011 to call for the Nobel Peace Prize winner to be freed from house arrest, offers a pattern for the future, based on its own experience.

Christiane Taubira appointed as France’s Minister of Justice

On 16 May 2012, Christiane Taubira was appointed Minister of Justice in the new government formed following the election of François Hollande as President of France.
 The former MP for French Guiana was present in South Africa as an observer monitoring the first elections held under universal suffrage on 27 April 1994. She was also responsible for piloting the law passed by the French parliament on 10 May 2011 that declared the Atlantic slave trade and slavery practised by France in its former colonies until 1848 to be crimes against humanity. Christiane Taubira is the first black woman to be appointed Minister of Justice in France.

Investment in Southern Africa: the role of the SADC

In 1992, the SADC (Southern African Development Community) replaced the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), founded on 1 April 1980.
The inclusion of South Africa as a member in 1994, following the ending of apartheid, greatly increased the organisation’s influence in the region. The SADC is an intergovernmental organisation headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana.
It is made up of 15 Member States: South Africa (1994), Angola (founder member), Botswana (founder member), Democratic Republic of Congo (1977), Lesotho (founder member), Madagascar, Malawi (founder member), Mauritius, Mozambique, (founder member), Namibia, Seychelles (1997), Swaziland (founder member), Tanzania (founder member), Zambia  (founder member) and Zimbabwe (founder member).
SADC covers a total population of some 260 million.
It is chaired by Member States on a rotating annual basis, and its key missions are as follows:
- development and economic growth, poverty reduction, improved standards of living for the region’s population and support for the most disadvantaged, through regional integration;
- development of shared values, systems and political institutions;
- promotion and defence of peace and security;
- complementary national and regional programmes and strategies;
- promotion of productive employment and use of the region’s resources;
- sustainable use of natural resources;
- reinforcement and consolidation of the tradition of historic, social and cultural affinities and links between peoples.
A number of milestones for progress towards economic integration were established:
- 2008: free trade area
- 2010: Customs union
- 2015: common market
- 2016: monetary union
- 2018: single currency.
The free trade area (FTA) was launched in 2008, on schedule. In October 2008, its Secretariat presented a strategic five-year plan for 2009-2014 in the fields of trade, industry and finance, and investment. SADC devotes its efforts to stimulating resources for investment in infrastructure, as a means of promoting trade within Southern Africa and reinforcing regional integration.
As part of this effort, SADC organised a seminar in Brussels in 2009 aimed at attracting investment from Belgian businesses. A similar seminar was held in Tokyo in March, to attract Japanese investment in regional products.
SADC is now focusing more specifically on investment in strategic water infrastructure. A conference was held in Lesotho at the end of 2011, attended by ministers responsible for water resources and potential investors, including the multilateral banks and private sector firms.
SADC also took part in World Water Day on 22 March 2012, calling for more investment in the region’s water infrastructure to ensure food security and mitigate the devastating impact of climate change.
SADC has a major role to play in meeting the region’s sustainable development challenges.

Paying tribute to South African soldiers who fought in France

The French Committee for South Africa took part in the ceremonies held at the military cemetery of Arques la Bataille (near Dieppe) on 6 July 2012 and at the Bois de Deville memorial (near Amiens) on 8 July 2012, in honour of those South African soldiers who fought in France and Europe and gave their lives in the defence of freedom.
New finds in South Africa’s cradle of humankind
Archaeologists from Witwatersrand University have uncovered further data on Australopithecus sediba, the hominid species whose fossil remains were discovered in a cave near Johannesburg in 2008.
The remains, dated at 2 million years old, reveal characteristics linking the species to both Lucy, the partial skeleton of an individual Australopithecus afarensis discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 and estimated to be 3.2 million years old, and to homo sapiens, the ancestor of modern man that appeared in Africa some 200,000 years ago.
The hominid has been identified as a precursor of modern man, whose physiological characteristics are thus shown to date much farther back in time than was once thought.

Eric Miyeni, The Release

“Someone has to pay.”
Jeremy Hlungwani has a gun and an unquenchable violent thought has lodged in his mind. Today he will drive his luxury car from his big-shot job and life in the suburbs to his childhood home in Meadowlands, Soweto. Along the way he will recall the moments in his life that got him here, on the wrong track. Today, Jeremy’s desperate attempt to reconcile his black life with his life in white Johannesburg will end in a dramatic culmination.
The Release is a powerful anthem of a post-apartheid South African life, a reminder that the legacy of the past runs deeper than the bling-blinded present would have us believe.
Eric Miyeni is a South African writer, actor, radio and television personality who’s best known to television audiences for his role as Darryl Malgas in the drama series Molo Fish and as the presenter of the magazine show Zooming In On Men. In 2001 Miyeni started a highly popular e-zine entitled O’Mandingo! and he later published three books with Jacana that were based on it; The Only Black at the Dinner Party Before Mandela was Mandela and A Poetic Journey. In 2004 he was a DJ on SAfm’s afternoon show but was fired after four months of being with the station for being too controversial after he discussed his contract on air. Miyeni has also appeared in numerous films, including Bopha (1993), Cry, the Beloved Country (1995) and Dangerous Ground (1997). In 2007 he spent two weeks in Paris which led to him writing A Letter from Paris: Essays and Photographs, which was published by Pan Macmillan. His latest book, The Release, is a fictional novel published by Random House Struik.

Cameron Platter’s YOU

Galerie Hussenot is pleased to present Cameron Platter’s first solo exhibition in Paris, YOU.
Consisting of drawings, sculptural assemblages, and video, the exhibition is an expanded collage of different signs, symbols, and signifiers informed by a contemporary South Africa.
Par documentary, part commentary, part allegory, an exploration of reality (far stranger than fiction) through concept, satire and subculture; Platter fills the ordinary and the marginal with incendiary new meaning. Interacting with transitory subjects and sources considered delinquent, sordid and lowbrow, he reconnoiters notions and concepts on the outside fringes of popular culture.
The exhibition is a meditation on detritus, consumerism and morality all channeled into a mind-map installation examining contemporary excesses. Optimistic, cynical, and bizarre, it is a sincere effort to investigate a confused and problematic modernity.
Cameron Platter was born in 1978, Johannesburg. He graduated with a BFA in painting from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town, in 2001. Recent exhibitions include “Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now,” Museum of Modern Art, New York; “Rencontres Internationales,” The Centre Georges Pomidou, Paris and Haus Der Kultur, Berlin; Le Biennale de Dakar 2010, Dakar, Senegal; “Coca- Colonization,” Marte Museum, El Salvador; and “Absent Heroes,” Iziko South African National Gallery.
His work appears in the permanent collection of MoMA, New York; The FRAC Centre, Orleans, France; and the Iziko South African National Gallery. His work has been highlighted in The New York Times, Vice Magazine, NKA Journal of Contemporary African Art, Artforum, Utflukt, and Art South Africa.
He lives and works in KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town, South Africa.