Welcoming Remarks by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane at the Gala Dinner in Celebration of Africa Day: 29 May 2010

Your Excellency President Zuma
Hon. Ministers
Hon. Members of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
Leaders of Political Parties
Their Worships, the Executive Mayors
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners
Members of the Diplomatic corps,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a special honour for me to welcome you all to the beautiful province of Gauteng and indeed, to this celebration of the 47th Africa Day Gala Dinner, held tonight here at the Sandton Convention Centre. The province of Gauteng is once again honoured to host Africa Day celebrations inclusive of the Cultural festival, currently underway as well as this auspicious Gala Dinner.

As you may know, Africa Day is celebrated annually on 25 May each year to commemorate the establishment of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and its successor, the African Union. Celebrating Africa Day provides a wonderful opportunity to be reminded of our founding fathers’ shared vision of a united and prosperous Africa, which remains relevant to this day.

This year’s celebration is special for many reasons, one being that South Africa is hosting the continental celebration of Africa Day, two, that 2010 is the Year of Peace and Security in Africa and three, the hosting of the historic FIFA World Cup, the first ever to be held on African soil. Therefore, the theme of this year’s celebration, “Building and Maintaining Peace through Sport in Africa” is a befitting tribute to all of the above.

Mr President; honourable guests; our Programme Director; ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all to your home - away from home.

Please enjoy this evening with us.

Thank you!

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