South African expats celebrate Freedom Day

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South African expats celebrated the country’s 22nd Freedom Day April 27, marking the anniversary of the country’s first-ever all-race, democratic elections.

The festive event in Bangkok celebrating the end of decades of sanctioned racial oppression under the apartheid system was led by H.E. Robina P. Marks, the South African Ambassador to Thailand.

High-ranking guests from the international diplomatic corps, members of government, Thai-South African Chamber of Commerce, and businesspeople from all over the world attended.

H.E. Ambassador Robina P. Marks (far right) and her delegation welcome guests.

Coming from Pattaya was Allan Riddell, consultant and one of the directors of the Thai-South African Chamber of Commerce, and Pasit Foobunma, a webmaster chamber director.

An international buffet with some South African specialties was waiting for guests, along with South African wines.

The duo Qadasi & Maqhinga, flown in from Durban, entertained the guests with a fusion of traditional Maskandi and western folk songs.

In her speech, the ambassador said the 1994 elections “heralded a turning point of building a country that truly belongs to all who live in it.”

This year’s commemoration coincides with South Africa’s 20th anniversary of the signing of the final draft of its constitution, the 60th anniversary of the 1956 women’s march to the Union Buildings, and the 40th anniversary of the June 16 student uprising.

A big group from Pattaya takes part in the festivity.

“The freedom that is celebrated today was not so free and it came at huge personal cost to countless South Africans,” Her Excellency noted. “Since 1994, the government has consistently worked to improve the lives of all South Africans by advancing their socioeconomic rights such as housing, water, education, social development and healthcare.”

H.E. Marks also said this year marks 23 years of diplomatic relations between South Africa and Thailand.

“This is a true reflection of the Zulu phrase, which is one of our eleven official languages, that says ‘umuntu ngu muntu nga Bantu’, which means ‘one is a person because of others’. This is also what we base our foreign policy on, because we recognize that we live in an interdependent world, and that our fate and our fortune is inextricably linked to each other.

South African Ambassador to Thailand, H.E. Robina P. Marks (3rd right) presents an airline ticket to lucky winner Elfi Seitz (2nd right).

“As such, your progress in Thailand is our progress, and our progress is yours,” she added. “It is based on this that South Africa has been engaged in assisting various states with conflict resolution and in sharing our experience with regard to transitional justice.

“We remain committed to living the legacy of the father of our nation, Nelson Mandela, when he said ‘as long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest’.”

The event wrapped with a singing of the Thai and South African anthems by the Auchorus student choir of Assumption University.