Washington’s National Press Club this week honored South Africa’s ambassador to the United States, Ebrahim Rasool, with a unusual lifetime achievement award as he prepared to head home to Cape Town after four and half years in the American capital.
The award was only granted “on special occasions to special recipients”, said NPC president Myron Belkind, who teaches journalism at George Washington University after a distinguished career as foreign correspondent and bureau chief with the Associated Press.
Belkind said the award was in recognition not only of the “close ties” Rasool had forged with the club but also the ambassador’s “positive impact in Washington” both as a diplomat and as a “Muslim scholar who has reached out to other communities”. Continue reading
On November 14, Washington area Moslems held Friday prayers (Jumu’ah) at the National Cathedral. “This event could not have been more appropriately inspired than by the life, legacy and values of Nelson Mandela, when we planned with Canon Gina Campbell the Memorial Service for South Africa’s greatest gift to the world almost one year ago,” Ambassador Rasool said. Here is the full text of his sermon, which can all be viewed and heard on the Cathedral website. Continue reading
To recognise companies, NGO’s and individuals for their exemplary contributions to building a competitive, growing and inclusive South African economy, Brand South Africa and South Africa’s diplomatic missions in the United States are launching the Siyabonga Awards at a gala dinner in New York on Tuesday, October 7.
Siyabonga is isiZulu for “thank you”. Inaugurated on the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy, the awards express the nation’s gratitude to its partners and friends in the US, including expatriates who are part of Brand South Africa’s Global South Africans initiative, for their support in achieving the country’s goals.
Defining those goals, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma recently told South Africa’s diplomatic corps that promoting trade and investment must be their “apex” priority over the next five years.
Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene will deliver the keynote address at the gala. He will be accompanied by Deputy Reserve Bank Governor Daniel Mminele as well as captains of South African and US industry.
The first cohort of Siyabonga honorees are:
· GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt.
· Soula Proxenos, Managing Partner, International Housing Solutions.
· Albert Maartens, President and CEO, Standard New York Securities, Inc.
· Mary Tiseo, Executive Director, South Africa Partners.
· Donna Katzin, Executive Director, Shared Interests.
· David Dinkins, former Mayor of New York. Continue reading
Freedom Day Address by Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, May 15, 2014
It is today an enormous pleasure to welcome all of you to inaugurate our newly renovated and exorcised building, a building that served for many decades as the headquarters of apartheid South Africa’s efforts to persuade the world that its racism was no different to segregation in the United States, and that it’s repression of its black citizens was a necessity in the atmosphere of the Cold War.
For the last 2 decades these buildings became a symbol of a free and democratic South Africa, and symbolic of the ability of a nation to negotiate its future and to reconcile its differences.
Welcoming you today signposts yet another iteration in the genesis of the South African nation, signified by the changes in this building. We stand on enduring foundations, we preserve what is classical in the architecture, but we infuse it with the aspiration of a nation that takes its place in the world with pride, at peace with itself and its fellow citizens, and simultaneously symbolic of the modern African state that is under construction, in South Africa and all over Africa.
Welcome to the new South African embassy!
Here is the full text of Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool’s address at the Washington National Cathedral memorial service celebrating the life on Nelson Mandela on December 11. A video version is is available on the cathedral’s website.
It was on June 26, 1990 that Nelson Mandela addressed the joint session of the Houses of Congress in this very city of Washington DC. He had just been released after 27 years in prison, but was keenly aware of his own mortality. On that day he said to Congress:
“It is a fact of the human condition that each shall, like a meteor, a mere brief passing moment in time and space, flit across the human stage and pass out of existence.”
Nelson Mandela was right about his mortality, for indeed he has passed on. But Nelson Mandela was wrong about his impact and significance in this world.
Yesterday in Soweto, South Africa, 95,000 people braved the rain, millions across the world ignored time zones to share in his memorial, and over 90 world leaders deemed Nelson Mandela more important than the urgent business that confront them on a daily basis. Through their presence and tributes they refused to let Nelson Mandela pass out of existence.
In this country, the United States of America, the Star Spangled Banner flies at half-mast signifying that in Nelson Mandela, Americans found both a part of their history and a part of their future. Here too Americans gather to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela and celebrate his life. Here too they will not let Nelson Mandela pass out of existence. Continue reading
Key dates in the mourning period for former President Nelson Mandela announced by President Jacob Zuma:
- Sunday, 8 December: National Day of Prayer and Reflection: all synagogues, temples, churches, mosques, etc.
- Tuesday, 10 December: Official memorial service: FNB Stadium, Johannesburg
- Wednesday, 11-Thursday, 12 December: Former President Mandela to lie in state: Union Buildings, Pretoria
- Sunday, 15 December : State Funeral for Former President Nelson Mandela: Qunu
Ambassador Rasool will host a media conference at the embassy — 3051 Massachusetts Ave NW — at 1.30 pm today, December 6, to discuss plans for mourning and celebrating Nelson Mandela in Washington and around the country. He will be joined by Mayor Vincent Gray, TransAfrica president Nicole Lee and Bill Lucy, founder to the Coalition of Black Trade Unionits. Watch this space, and @saembassyus, for updates. Credentialed media only, please.
5 December 2013