South Africa in 2018 – political transformation and the Nelson Mandela centenary
Michelle Müntefering and Bheki Dube at a mural of Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg
Breakfast briefing session beside a high-rise building site in Johannesburg on 27 MayImmediately after arriving in South Africa, Minister of State Michelle Müntefering was briefed on the current political situation in the country. German Ambassador Martin Schäfer invited various experts to the briefing, including renowned political scientist and analyst Dr Ivor Sarakinsky of the Wits School of Governance in Johannesburg.
Bheki Dube showed the Minister of State “his Maboeng”, the district where he grew up. Formerly a deprived area, Maboeng is now regarded as “South Africa‘s answer to Williamsburg, Brooklyn”. It is a diverse mixture of a residential, office and nightlife district, whose residents are working to transform it into a lively neighbourhood and a good place to live. Tour guide Bheki Dube is also actively involved in this process. He has set up a small hostel that is very popular with young people.
Minister of State Müntefering was shown around Soweto by tour guide Ntsiki Mdlankomo, who lives in the district. In front of an ANC Women’s League poster in Mandela House, 8115 Orlando West Soweto (www.mandelahouse.org), Ntsiki, who speaks fluent German, told the Minister of State about the history of Soweto and the anti-apartheid movement and explained why she never wanted to leave the area. Writing about the house in “The Long Walk to Freedom”, Nelson Mandela said: “It was the opposite of grand, but it was my first true home of my own and I was mightily proud.”
Hector Pieterson was born in Soweto on 19 August 1963. He was shot dead at the age of twelve on 16 June 1976 at a demonstration during the Soweto uprising. He became a symbolic figure of an uprising by the black population against the apartheid regime and the brutality of the South African security forces during this period.
Children and teenagers from Johannesburg’s townships take music classes at MIAGI music school. The Federal Foreign Office is providing MIAGI with funding for a tour of Germany in 2018, during which the talented young musicians will perform at venues including the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin in early August at the celebrations to mark the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth.
Representatives of the German business and creative sectors met for a discussion at the invitation of Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO of the Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Matthias Boddenberg, Chief Executive of the Chamber. The guests included German solo artist Ralf GUM, a well-known DJ in South Africa, who presented a project concept on career opportunities in the music industry.
Cultural studies experts, people who work in the gaming industry, festival organisers, funding managers and artists met at the Goethe-Institut for talks with Minister of State Michelle Müntefering. Three German schools, an agreement on cultural and film cooperation, the Goethe-Institut Johannesburg, and German Academic Exchange Service and Alexander von Humboldt Foundation scholars are just some of the many signs of the extremely vibrant cultural cooperation between Germany and South Africa.
The Minister of State held in-depth talks with Professor Mbembe on cultural cooperation and the debate on colonialism. “Do we really want to live in a world where everyone and everything has to return home?” (Professor Achille Mbembe speaking at a colonialism conference in Hamburg on 18 May 2018, quoted in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” newspaper of 23 May 2018.) “The main question for me is: what does sharing mean in the 21st century?” (Minister of State Michelle Müntefering in an interview with “Der Tagesspiegel” newspaper on 29 May 2018).
Minister of State Müntefering joined Lindiwe Sisulu, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, family members of the deceased and numerous well-known figures at Ambassador Eddie Funde’s funeral, where she conveyed the German Government’s condolences and paid tribute to the Ambassador’s achievements in the field of German-South African relations.
At a lunch with members of think tanks, human rights activists, religious leaders, financial experts and female ambassadors at the German Ambassador’s Residence in Pretoria, there was a lively discussion on how social and economic transformation can be achieved in South Africa under President Cyril Ramaphosa. The guests included Daniel Mminele, Deputy Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, who attended school and university in Land North Rhine-Westphalia and speaks fluent German.
Minister of State Michelle Müntefering met former South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is now Minister in the Presidency. The two ministers discussed a wide range of topics and preparations for the new German-South African Binational Commission in autumn 2018.
“I am science!” Young girls and MINT subjects – girls aged between 13 and 16 conducted natural science experiments and tested the German Minister of State’s knowledge of MINT subjects. At the end of the visit, they asked their German visitor for her Instagram address, which was then written in the old way in chalk on the blackboard!