South Africa celebrates its ‘Freedom Day’“April is an extremely important month for South Africa. It’s freedom month,” Fanus J. Schoeman, the South African ambassador to Korea, told the press last Wednesday.
April 27 is South Africa’s Freedom Day ― a commemoration of the country’s first democratic elections in 1994 when South Africans of all races could vote for the first time in its more than 300-year history.
“Before that, we had many bloody conflicts in South Africa,” said Mr. Schoeman. But, he added, he’s proud that the nation achieved a negotiated settlement between the “freedom fighters” and “oppressors” peacefully. He said that the freedom celebrated is not only political but is also freedom from hunger, religious fear and discrimination as well.
Mr. Schoeman continued that although some people wondered what would happen after the first democratically elected president Nelson Mandela stepped down, the situation had improved under current President Thabo Mbeki. The economy was better and reconciliation really was working, he emphasized.
In order to share their happiness on the freedom with those less privileged, the South African Embassy in Seoul recently entered a relationship with the Dong Myung Child Welfare Center.
The Embassy has many events ongoing through freedom month. Friday was South African Day at the Seoul English Village, where Mr. Schoeman talked and South African musician Francois le Roux performed.
From April 21 to 27, an exhibition called “Window of South Africa” will be on display at Lotte Department Store in Jamsil, southern Seoul. The embassy invited children from the welfare center to the South African Freedom Day event that will be held April 29 at the Shilla Hotel.
Mr. Schoeman said there is mutual ignorance between South Africans and Koreans. South Africans know that Hyundai, Kia, LG and Samsung are from Korea but generally know little about the nation, just as few Koreans know about South Africa. He said South Africa is not just a nation of animals, but has a rich culture, United Nations Heritage sites and tourism destinations, including the the Cradle of Humankind, Cape Town and Kruger National Park.
Mr. Schoeman said that he will continue working together with the Korean Embassy in South Africa for better mutual understanding between the two peoples.
by Park Sung-ha
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