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President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed a briefing by the Vice President of the Transitional Sovereign Council of the Republic of Sudan, Malik Agar Eyre Nganyoufa, on the situation in Sudan, while reiterating the call for an immediate ceasefire.
President Ramaphosa held a meeting with Vice President Nganyoufa on the situation in Sudan on Sunday, 3 March 2024.

According to The Presidency, the purpose of the meeting was to brief the President on the developments towards peace in Sudan.

“President Ramaphosa welcomed the briefing and expressed South Africa’s support for dialogue between the warring factions. The President further reiterated the call for an immediate ceasefire that will alleviate the suffering and humanitarian catastrophe facing the Sudanese people, especially women and children.

“President Ramaphosa looks forward to meeting with General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Chairman of the Transitional Sovereign Council,” The Presidency said.

– Source:
President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his sadness at the passing of Mr Brian Mulroney, former Prime Minister of Canada and Esteemed Member of the National Order of the Companions of OR Tambo (Gold). Mr Mulroney, who served as Prime Minister from 1984 to 1993, has passed away at the age of 84.
On behalf of Government and the nation, President Ramaphosa offered his deep condolences to the Government and people of Canada and especially Mr Mulroney’s family on the passing of a leader who holds a special place in South Africa’s history.
On Freedom Day 2015, Mr Mulroney was honoured with the National Order of the Companions of OR Tambo (Gold) “for his exceptional contribution to the liberation movement of South Africa. His steadfast support for the release of Nelson Mandela and for imposing sanctions on South Africa's apartheid regime led to a free, democratic, non-sexist and non-racial South Africa."

President Ramaphosa said: “Prime Minister Mulroney led Canada during a critical decade in which our struggle for freedom culminated in the dismantling of apartheid.

“During his term, he spoke out against apartheid, advocated the economic isolation of the regime and took a stand when many in the international community were wavering.

“For us, his passing is made profound by the fact that we have lost this friend and ally in the year in which we are marking 30 years of freedom and in which we pay tribute to all those around the world who supported our struggle for freedom and democracy. May his soul rest in peace.”

– Source:
South Africa condemns the massacre of 112 Palestinians and the injury of hundreds more as they sought life-saving aid. The Israeli forces fired on hundreds of Palestinian civilians already vulnerable due to the onslaught on Palestinians over the last four months.
This attack comes just days after Israel submitted a report to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and to which South Africa is preparing a response to. This latest atrocity is another breach of international law and in breach of the binding provisional orders of the ICJ. Legal remedies are one route to end the institutionalised impunity that Israel has enjoyed for decades, which has emboldened them to act in the manner they have been doing and for decades before that.

Legal remedies are not sufficient though and the international community must now consider other measures to end the unlawful actions of the Israeli government. A first step is an unconditional call for a ceasefire by the United Nations Security Council. An immediate and unconditional call for a ceasefire is now a moral and life-saving necessity.

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The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, on Tuesday, 5 March 2024, hosted her Danish counterpart, Mr Lars Løkke Rasmussen, for Political Consultations.
A Declaration of Intent signed by the two countries in 2009, ushered in the spirit of cooperation between the two countries.

South Africa and Denmark enjoy sound diplomatic relations. Denmark was a strong supporter of the struggle for democracy and freedom in South Africa. Denmark was the first Western country to impose unilateral trade sanctions on the apartheid regime.

Denmark views South Africa as a growing destination for Danish exports.

– Source:
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Dr Naledi Pandor, participated in the third Antalya Diplomacy Forum (ADF) in Antalya in the Republic of Türkiye.
“The Minister used the opportunity of her visit to Antalya to hold a bilateral meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Türkiye, Hakan Fidan,” DIRCO said on Friday, 1 March 2024.

The ADF, which took place from 1 to 3 March 2024, was attended by heads of state and government, foreign ministers, high-level officials, diplomats, non-government organisations, media and the business community from around the world.
This year’s forum took place under the overarching theme, Advancing Diplomacy in Times of Turmoil.

Minister Pandor participated as a panellist on the topic, Understanding the Global South, on Saturday, 2 March 2024.

Other topics discussed during the forum included:
  • The Gaza Contact Group
  • Building Blocks for Permanent Peace in the Middle East
  • Realising the Potential of Africa.
On the sidelines of the ADF, the First Lady of the Republic of Turkey, Madam Emine Erdogan, hosted a High-Level Session on Women, Peace and Security.

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The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Candith Mashego-Dlamini, has thanked the foreign diplomatic missions that participated in the public participation programme held in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, from 28 to 29 February 2024.
The event was organised in partnership with the OR Tambo District Municipality based in Mthatha. The provincial government of the Eastern Cape also took part in the events.

Several foreign diplomatic missions were represented by their ambassadors, high commissioners and senior officials. These included the missions of the People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Jamaica, Ethiopia, Burundi and Zambia.

At a dinner hosted in honour of the visiting diplomats on 28 February 2023, the various local municipalities under the OR Tambo District made presentations showcasing the investment potential in their respective localities.
On 29 February, Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini and the foreign diplomats visited Nqwathi Village, where they interacted with the principal and staff as well as representatives of the School Governing Body at the Cibini Junior Secondary School.

The foreign diplomats donated an assortment of goods to the school, including computer tablets, stationery, sports equipment and water bottles. The People’s Republic of China pledged an amount of R100 000 towards the building of the school kitchen.

Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini thanked the foreign diplomats for their generous donations to the school. “The ambassadors and high commissioners as well as senior diplomats present with us in Mthatha have demonstrated that they are good friends of South Africa and that they align themselves to our focus on the value of education, especially in rural schools. And we cannot thank them enough for their kindness and friendship.”

The visit to Mthatha formed part of a series of public participation events conducted by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation across the country, pursuant to government’s commitment to working directly with communities in addressing some of the country’s challenges.

Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini used the occasion to outline South Africa’s foreign policy priorities and decisions and how these impact the daily lives of South Africans. In particular, the Deputy Minister spoke about the historic ties that South Africa enjoyed with the countries that took part in the event and how South Africa maintains positive political, trade and economic relations with these countries.

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The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Alvin Botes, on Tuesday, 5 March 2024, hosted his counterpart from the Czech Republic, the First Deputy Foreign Minister, Jiří Kozák, for Bilateral Political Consultations.
The two delegations aimed to consolidate and further enhance diplomatic and political cooperation between South Africa and the Czech Republic. The meeting followed up on progress made since the previous session in Prague and examined new issues to improve the level of bilateral cooperation. The meeting sought to deepen understanding of regional, multilateral and global issues of mutual concern. Further, the meeting discussed ways in which the two countries could promote cooperation in international organisations and forums.
Bilateral Political Consultations are held at the level of Deputy Ministers in alternate venues between the two capitals, Pretoria and Prague, in terms of the Declaration of Intent on Political Dialogue, which entered into force on in July 2000.

The visit of the Czech Deputy Foreign Minister presented an opportunity for the two delegations to exchange views on current international events that threaten global peace and security, particularly the raging wars in Gaza and Ukraine.

– Source:
Cabinet has expressed its confidence in South Africa's ability to host a successful Group of 20 (G20) Summit, drawing upon its track record of successfully organising major events such as the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Summit and the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum (AGOA).
This is according to Minister in The Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni who addressed a post-Cabinet briefing in Pretoria.

The Minister told the media that Cabinet received and considered a report on the preparations for South Africa’s hosting of the G20 Summit in 2025.

“This is a momentous event for South Africa as it will be the first country in Africa to host such a gathering. It is not only unique because of the anticipated numbers, but also of the enduring impact it is envisaged to make.
“Cabinet is confident that South Africa will deliver a successful G20 Summit, as it has done with previous major events such as the BRICS Summit and AGOA.

“The G20 Presidency presents South Africa with an opportunity to champion the aspirations of emerging markets,” the Minister said.

As it hosts the G20, Minister Ntshavheni said South Africa’s participation in the forum will continue to be guided by the country’s commitment to advance national interests as well as those of the African continent.

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The Governments of South Africa and The Netherlands have undertaken to explore more cooperation opportunities in the water and sanitation sector in order to strength the existing relations between the two states.
The two countries made the undertaking when Water and Sanitation Minister, Senzo Mchunu joined by Director-General, Dr Sean Phillips, met with the Ambassador of The Netherlands to South Africa, Joanne Doornewaard, in Pretoria on Friday, 1 March 2024.

Minister Mchunu and Amb Doornewaard held their first meeting since her posting to South Africa in August 2023.

A number of issues were discussed at the meeting, including the bilateral agreement on water management between the two countries, as well as other collaboration opportunities in the water and sanitation sector.

Expanding on the existing relations between the two states, Minister Mchunu acknowledged the expertise and contribution offered by The Netherlands in the water and sanitation space, saying that it has a significant impact.
Minister Mchunu said the visit by His Majesty the King of Netherlands, Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima in South Africa in October last year, as part of the Blue Deal Project, demonstrated the love they have for the people of South Africa.

The Minister outlined some challenges that the country continues to face, including delipidating infrastructure at municipal level, resulting in water losses.

“South Africa remains one of the driest countries in the world, yet we have a high rate of non-venue water at municipal level, losing so much water that we so need. We need lots of work around this matter [through] investing more in our water infrastructure to ensure that we nip this in a bud,” Minister Mchunu said.

He said that South Africa has more challenges in water services than it has with water resources.

Minister Mchunu, however, maintained there is no water crisis in the country, but it is experiencing “isolated incidents that do not equate to a crisis".

Dr Phillips said the department and the sector at large are reaping the benefits of some programmes undertaken by The Netherlands government under the Blue Deal Project, particularly in the supply chain management in infrastructure procurement.

“We have had an internationally renowned expert in infrastructure procurement, who has imparted so much knowledge that we are currently implementing to modernise our systems. This is going to make a huge improvement in our service delivery, and we want to take this to our water boards and municipalities to implement as well,” Dr Phillips said.

Amb Doornewaard outlined several projects that they want to undertake in Limpopo and other parts of the country, as part of support to the country’s water challenges and other sectors.

“We just want to lend a helping hand to the country,” Amb Doornewaard said.

South Africa and The Netherlands signed the Blue Deal agreement, which aims to support water management by exchanging knowledge and experience.

– Source:
Small Business Development, Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams will host the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC+Africa) in Cape Town from 13 to 14 March 2024.
The Department of Small Business Development has partnered with 22 on Sloane and other public and private sector players, who are committed to advancing entrepreneurial activity on the continent, to stage the GEC+Africa 2024.

GEC+Africa is a gathering of entrepreneurs, thought leaders and practitioners, who have become part of the global movement that advances entrepreneurship as a vehicle for building economies and expanding access to a better life for all.
Over 1 500 delegates from more than 50 African nations are expected to participate during the congress. This will include start-ups; small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs); investors; policymakers; and organisations that support entrepreneurship development.

GEC+Africa will seek to achieve some of the following objectives:

  • support the development of innovative start-ups and SMMEs in Africa
  • create an enabling environment for African entrepreneurs to create jobs
  • create market linkages for African start-ups and SMMEs
  • support the development of a credible global investor pipeline that will invest in African start-ups and SMMEs
  • establish a strong GEC-affiliated organisation in each African country to build and strengthen its entrepreneurship ecosystem.
According to the department, GEC+Africa will be a platform to showcase the significant progress the country has made in producing some of the most innovative and successful entrepreneurs on the continent.

“South Africa has one of the most mature start-up ecosystems in Africa, with stronger supporting institutions,” the department said in a statement.

“The Department of Small Business Development will continue to work with its partners to create an enabling environment for the growth and sustainability of small enterprises, and to strengthen the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” the department said.

– Source:
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has rated South Africa’s safety oversight system at 91.11% thereby placing it at number one in Africa and number 18 in the world, alongside Norway.
Addressing a media briefing on the state of the aviation sector on Tuesday, 5 March 2024, Minister of Transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga said the ICAO also did not raise any significant safety and security concerns in both the safety and security audits, which happened within eight months of each other.
In the past two to three years, South Africa has participated in four key international safety and security audits and assessments by the ICAO, and the United States (US) safety and security regulators namely, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

“I am elated to announce that South Africa performed very well in all these audits and assessments. The US-FAA recognised South Africa's safety oversight system as meeting ICAO’s safety standards and recommended practices and therefore confirmed that South Africa retains its Category 1 status with the standards of the United States International Oversight Safety Audit programme.

“The TSA granted South Africa’s cargo security system permanent recognition following an assessment of the South African Civil Aviation Authority. South Africa still holds the European Union recognition for the States cargo security system,” Minister Chikunga said.

The Minister said these outcomes do not only validate the quality of South Africa’s global aviation footprint, but it also confirms that South Africa's systems are competing favourably with the best in the world of aviation.

– Source:
Cabinet has considered and approved the hosting of the annual meeting of the New Development Bank (NDB) to take place in South Africa in June 2024.
Minister in The Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said it has been 10 years since Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) countries signed the Articles of the NDB at the sixth BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, marking the establishment of the “first multilateral development institution by emerging and developing countries”.
“South Africa is looking forward to host the meeting on the NDB and commits to working hand-in-hand with the bank and its member countries to achieve sustainable development and create a better the African continent,” Minister Ntshavheni said.

– Source:
The African Management Development Institutes' Network (AMDIN) has elected new leadership to steer the organisation forward.
AMDIN held its elective general assembly in Mombasa, Kenya and was hosted by the Kenya School of Government.

The new leadership is expected to build state capacity and enhance partnerships and collaboration among schools of government and administration on the African continent.

AMDIN is over a decade old and is an association of schools of government on the African continent. The organisation runs a successful academic journal, The Africa Journal of Public Sector Development and Governance, which is printed in three languages: English, French and Portuguese. It convenes joint training programmes and academic exchanges.

The newly elected members of the Executive Committee of AMDIN are directors-general of their respective schools of government or public administration and are the following:
  • President: Guillaume Wakimesa Banga, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Secretary-General: Busani Ngcaweni, South Africa
  • Vice President North Africa: Nada Biaz, Morocco
  • Vice President Central Africa: Gladys Njoukiang, Cameroon
  • Vice President West Africa: Kwaku Bonsu, Ghana
  • Vice President East Africa: James Nkata, Uganda
  • Vice President Southern Africa: Royson Mukwena, Zambia.
The General Assembly designated South Africa’s National School of Government as the permanent secretariat of AMDIN.

Secretary-General Ngcaweni said through AMDIN, a new cadre of African civil servants can be developed and shaped “steeped in ideals of Pan-African and continental integration especially in the areas of trade, trans-national infrastructure development, poverty alleviation and effective governance”.

“That will be our agenda during this two-year tenure, to shape ideas that advances Agenda 2063,” Ngcaweni said.

AMDIN is in the process of finalising a programme called Governance in Africa, a postgraduate diploma that will be co-delivered with the Tshwane University of Technology for public servants from the continent.

The National School of Government, working with other training institutes in the continent, will offer a curriculum on the African Charter on Values and Principles of Public Service in Africa as an online programme.

– Source:
The First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Jiří Kozák, recently visited the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), an entity of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) to explore potential areas of collaboration with South Africa. The Deputy Minister was in South Africa for bilateral political consultations with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
Organised by the DSI, Deputy Minister Kozák, toured the CSIR's National Centre for Nanostructured Materials and the Cybersecurity Security Operations Centre on Monday, 4 March 2024.

The visit laid the foundation for future discussions in science, technology and innovation (STI) between the countries. The potential areas of collaboration included food security, academies of science, hydrogen, nanotechnology, cybersecurity, technology transfer, aerospace technologies and partnering under the Square Kilometre Array mega science project.

South Africa will host a delegation of Czech startups in November 2024 to link them with South African startups.

Both the CSIR CEO, Dr Thulani Dlamini, and Deputy Minister Kozák expressed commitment to continue the discussions on these topics. A follow-up meeting was planned to concretise the discussions.

Amid the collaborative endeavours in STI, the relationship between South Africa and the Czech Republic also exemplifies the growing significance of science diplomacy.

In a dialogue on science diplomacy, Deputy Minister Kozák said the Czech government had established a department on science diplomacy, as international collaboration in research and innovation was a very important task in furthering the country's unique qualities.

Through joint initiatives, exchange programmes and diplomatic engagements, both nations could leverage scientific cooperation as a vehicle for fostering diplomatic ties and addressing global challenges.

Mr Daan du Toit, the Deputy Director-General for International Cooperation and Resources at the DSI, said science diplomacy enhanced mutual understanding and facilitated the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and resources, ultimately paving the way for sustainable development and prosperity.

"In this context, the partnership between South Africa and the Czech Republic transcends traditional diplomatic channels, embracing a forward-looking approach that harnesses the transformative power of science and technology for the betterment of society," said Mr Du Toit.

South Africa and the Czech Republic are expected to sign a bilateral agreement that will enable the establishment of long-term relations in STI and serve as a cornerstone for progress in both countries.

– Source:
Umalusi CEO, Dr Mafu Rakometsi says the executive committee of the Association for Educational Assessment in Africa (AEAA) is satisfied with the progress made in preparation of the hosting of the 40th AEAA Annual Conference in August 2024.
The CEO was delivering remarks at a media briefing on the state of readiness for the hosting of the conference.

Umalusi is preparing to host the AEAA annual conference from 19 to 23 August 2024 at the Century City Conference Centre and Hotel in Cape Town. The conference will be held under the theme, Reimagining Educational Assessment in the Age of Multiple Dimensions of Learning in a Global Society.

The AEAA plays a crucial role in facilitating member institutions to uphold best practices in educational assessment.
Dr Rakometsi said that having hosted the 21st AEAA Conference back in 2003 in Cape Town, during the formative years of Umalusi, they felt privileged and honoured that the executive committee of the AEAA decided to bring back the conference to South Africa, 21 years later.

Rakometsi said this was a special birthday present for Umalusi because the 40th AEAA Conference is taking place just after the body celebrated two decades of its existence.

“... It is anticipated that the conference will attract upwards of 300 delegates, comprising assessment specialists, university academics and scholars, educationists and policy makers from the African continent, Australia, Europe, the United Kingdom and United States of America.

“This will provide us an invaluable opportunity to, within the context of complex and unequal educational contexts, discuss and debate various issues of mutual interest for Umalusi and the other education systems of the world,” the CEO said.

Dr Rakometsi called on Umalusi partners in South Africa to support the conference by making it possible for the relevant officials to put together abstracts and papers for the consideration of the organising committee. He extended the same call to its partners continentally and globally.

The partners include the Department of Basic Education, Department of Higher Education and Training, Independent Examinations Board, South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute, Independent Schooling Sector, Private Further Education and Training Colleges and Adult Education and Training Colleges.

“In terms of its format, the main conference will be preceded by a workshop on an assessment-related topic to build capacity amongst assessment practitioners. There will be ample opportunity for interested organisations to exhibit their services and products to the approximately 300 conference participants,” the CEO said.

Delivering his remarks during the media briefing, President of the AEAA, Dr David Njengere, appealed to all organisations involved in education and assessment in Africa and across the world to support the conference in whatever way possible.

He emphasised that one of the success factors for especially AEAA conferences was the support business entities sponsor and exhibit their services and products to conference delegates.

“In this regard, we are calling on all interested entities to partner with Umalusi and show case their products and services.

“Based on the report presented by Umalusi, the executive committee of the AEAA is satisfied with the progress made in preparation for the conference. We have no doubt that we are going to have a memorable conference in Cape Town in August this year,” he said.

– Source:
South African and Namibian field rangers have teamed up to turn up the heat on anti-poaching efforts in what South African National Parks have called a milestone collaboration between the two countries for the betterment of the environment.
By committing to a joint patrol, ǀAi-ǀAis/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park Field rangers alongside Namibian rangers are adding a fortress of backup to protect the wildlife that call the Orange River (one of the most important and longest rivers on the continent) home, with a big focus on fish species who need protection.

This effort comes to combat the illegal activities that have been on the rise, impacting fish populations and subsequently, the Orange River’s ecosystem and wider community.

The first efforts were underway in mid-November where the united rangers were able to apprehend suspects who were caught poaching through illegal fishing actions.

“This cross-border conservation collaboration serves as a shining example of solidarity in protecting our planet’s ecological treasures. It showcases the power of international cooperation in addressing complex environmental challenges and emphasises the importance of collective action in safeguarding our natural heritage for future generations.” - SANParks

– Source:
The ROAR (Respect, Opportunities, Achievements, Recognition) Awards, which recognises accomplishments in the exhibition industry, took place at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand and was organised by the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO), with Gallagher Convention Centre serving as the presenting venue sponsor.
The event brought together industry leaders, innovators and stakeholders to celebrate excellence and recognise the remarkable contributions made by individuals and organisations in the field.

The ROAR Awards, now in its fifth edition, continues to serve as a prestigious platform that acknowledges excellence, innovation and professionalism within the African exhibition industry, and this year's awards saw an unprecedented level of participation and competition, highlighting the industry's resilience and commitment to delivering exceptional experiences despite challenging times.

After careful consideration by an esteemed panel of judges, the winners across various categories were announced, showcasing excellence in different aspects of exhibition management, design, marketing and service delivery.

“The ROAR Awards not only recognise excellence but also inspire industry professionals to continuously innovate and elevate standards within the exhibition sector. As the industry evolves, these awards serve as a benchmark for excellence and a testament to the collective dedication, resilience and talent within the African exhibition community. Congratulations to the winners who have not only excelled but have become beacons of inspiration, shaping the narrative of excellence in the African exhibition community,” says Devi Paulsen-Abbott, Chairperson of AAXO.

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Legendary South Africa-based explorer Kingsley Holgate and his team are two-thirds of the way through their 41st humanitarian and geographic expedition, which began in June 2023 and are now gearing up to reach some of the wildest and most isolated regions in Central, North and West Africa.
Utilising new Defender 130s, the Afrika Odyssey expedition that began in June 2023, has already surpassed 40 000 kilometres along some of the most treacherous routes in Africa, withstanding torrential rains, excessive heat and record-floods in the past eight months.
This expedition is delving into the wild heart of 12 diverse African countries and has a strong conservation, culture and community focus. The aim is to reach 22 unique wildlife reserves, managed by the conservation NGO African Parks in partnership with the government of each country.

“Over the past 30 years of adventuring in every country on the continent, we’ve come to realise that Africa’s iconic biodiversity and wildlife is under immense threat,” said Kingsley. “For a long time, we’ve been asking the question: is there hope for Africa’s wild spaces, as well as the people who depend on it, in the face of burgeoning global demand for natural resources?”

“That’s what spawned the idea for this expedition and there’s good news. We’ve been privileged to see first-hand the incredible work being done to protect and restore vast tracts of wilderness and the frontline fight against criminal networks that profit from illegal trade in wildlife, logging and mining. We’ve heard gut-wrenching, personal stories of loss from rangers on the front line, alongside uplifting stories of hope that bear witness to the revival happening in many countries thanks to proactive governments and the positive impact it is having on both wildlife and neighbouring communities.”

The expedition has now reached 15 of the 22 wildlife regions on their list. Starting in the northern tip of the Namib desert at Iona National Park in south-western Angola, it has journeyed through nine national parks in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi; reached the furthest and highest source of the White Nile in the mountainous rainforests of Nyungwe in Rwanda; tackled a difficult route to two remote wildlife parks in South Sudan; and nearly lost the expedition Defenders to the worst floods in 20 years at Garamba National Park in the remote north-eastern corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Afrika Odyssey expedition is also providing humanitarian support to communities living alongside these wildlife regions.

“Unusually high rainfall in the East and Central African regions has escalated malaria cases, especially in young children and babies,” said expedition leader Ross Holgate. “The whole team also contracted malaria while in East Africa and we know from personal experience how deadly malaria can be. So, we’ve distributed over 7 600 long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets to date on this journey. With one mosquito net protecting on average a mum and two children, that’s nearly 23 000 people safe from malaria.”

“We’ve also provided 1 800 reading glasses to poor-sighted, mostly elderly people in these isolated areas. Additionally, conservation education forms an integral part of this expedition. Through our Wildlife Art programme, we’ve helped educate thousands of children living alongside African Parks-managed protected areas about the values of caring for their environment. They are the future guardians of these wildlife gems and it’s important to pass on the baton of conservation, to ensure they continue to benefit from Africa’s wildlife resources in the coming years.”

“Ahead lies the most difficult part of the expedition, to reach seven wildlife regions in the Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad and Benin,” continued Holgate. “We’ll be tackling dense rainforest conditions, difficult river crossings, vast desert and rocky mountain terrain where water and fuel will be hard to come by, as well as potential security threats. The logistical issues for this chapter are extreme.”

Veteran expedition member “Shova Mike” Nixon, one of only three people in the world to have completed all 19 Cape Epic mountain bike races, will attempt to cycle 600 kilometres on a specially adapted Evo-bike through Chad’s Sahel and Sahara desert to reach the World Heritage Site of Ennedi Natural and Cultural Reserve near the Libyan border.

The Afrika Odyssey’s Scroll for Conservation – with hundreds of pages already filled with inspiring messages from community leaders and beneficiaries, park rangers, conservation partners and government envoys – will also complete the journey, as will the well-travelled Zulu calabash that is collecting symbolic water from all 22 African Parks-managed protected areas.

“We trust that the Zen of Travel will continue to ride with us,” concluded Kingsley. “We need to showcase the inspirational potential of Africa’s people and wild places – it is not all doom and gloom. We’re raring to go for chapter three of this incredible journey, continuing the humanitarian work and meeting more passionate individuals who are dedicating their lives to this beautiful continent’s wild heart and rural communities.”

– Source:
In Cape Town, a small workshop helmed by Matthew Rice and Matthias Roux are crafting acoustic guitars that resonate across the globe. Their brand, Casimi Guitars, named after an Arabic term meaning “the heart of the sun”, is a beacon of craftsmanship and creativity.
With a production limited to six instruments per year, Casimi has become a coveted name among collectors in the United States, Europe and Asia and their waiting list extends to 2026.

Rice and Roux, childhood friends, embody a rare blend of artistry and technical skill. They joined the ranks of luthiers, skilled craftsmen who, like traditional violin makers, devote immense care to each instrument. Their guitars, distinguished by their exceptional sound quality, also feature intricate illustrations, ornamentations and inlays, alongside their signature sculptural shapes.

Both Rice and Roux crafted their first guitars at 18, under the mentorship of esteemed instrument builders. Roux’s journey in luthiery led him to become the head luthier at Maingard Guitars, known for crafting instruments for notable musicians like Steven Stills and Earl Klugh. Rice, a multi-talented creative with a background in music, design and silversmithing, brings his diverse skills to the table, adding unique elements to their guitars.
Their collaboration took a significant turn when they decided to open their workshop in 2012, following the creation of a prototype guitar that set the foundation for their future designs. Since then, their workshop in Cape Town’s southern suburbs has been a hub of innovation, offering standard models and custom features tailored to artists and collectors.

Casimi’s reputation recently attracted British guitarist Michael Watts, an authority on handmade guitars and recipient of Guitar Player magazine’s Acoustic Guitarist of the Year award. Watts commissioned a custom instrument designed to enhance his unique musical style. He praised Casimi Guitars for creating some of the finest instruments he has ever encountered and anticipates years of composing and recording with his new guitar.

Watts, known for his charismatic performances worldwide and his deep, emotive playing, has also been instrumental in showcasing the work of top guitar makers at international festivals. He had visited South Africa to collect his Casimi guitar and had marked the occasion with a special candlelit concert in the Casimi workshop, celebrating the union of exceptional craftsmanship and musical artistry. Rice and Roux had expressed their excitement, noting Watts’s remarkable musicianship and looking forward to the music he would create with their guitar.

– Source:
Kruger National Park (KNP) will once again host world scientists, researchers and Protected Area Managers at the 21st Annual Savanna Science Network Meeting, which will take place from 3 to 7 March 2024 in Skukuza.
“The park will host 208 delegates representing 80 different scientific and conservation organisations from 25 countries. Ninety-nine of the delegates will be from South Africa, representing 30 institutions ranging from national and provincial government departments, academic institutions, research, NGOs and conservation agencies. The meeting will also be streamed live for those who would like to take part online, said SANParks Acting General Manager: Savanna Research Unit, Cathy Greaver.

Many topical issues in ecological and social sciences will be covered during the four days’ presentations and posters. There is a range of sessions covering various topics and these include:

  • Classic ecological themes like studying ecological patterns (e.g., animal space-use patterns, large-scale biodiversity patterns)
  • Understanding ecological processes (e.g., erosion, predation, plant recruitment, herbivory, fire, disease, decomposition).
This year’s programme includes presentations on cultural heritage, tourism, human-wildlife conflict and co-existence, as well as the wildlife economy and wildlife crime. This reflects the incorporation of expertise from diverse fields to assist in attaining conservation goals.
In order to provide a sound scientific platform from which to address the knowledge needs to manage biodiversity and protected areas in a changing world, SANParks scientists engage and collaborate with a wide range of national and international scientists, research partners and funders. A mix of basic and applied research, spanning the biophysical and social domains, strengthens research and monitoring efforts and builds stronger and deeper knowledge of the savanna systems. The close interactions between academics and park authorities facilitated by this meeting are key to promoting proactive evidence-based decision-making and directing research to address priority conservation management needs. The meeting has always valued capacity building, and as such, students share the platform with world-renowned savanna scientists from across the globe.

“The idea for the Savanna Science meeting came about when a small group of scientists working on river related issues in KNP, reflecting on the impacts of the 2000 floods, started thinking that a small meeting held annually to share research findings with management, might be very useful. The scope and participation of these meetings grew quickly to include savanna-related research and delegates from many countries and organisations. This meeting is now considered the premier international savanna-science conference covering socio-ecological research taking place in savannas across the globe. The conference format allows for dialogue and discussion on ecological science and conservation matters, both formally and informally in a spectacular venue, shaping our collective understanding and seeding future research collaborations and projects to fill key knowledge gaps.” concluded Greaver.

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Pupils at Northwood School received a huge surprise when Canadian celebrity, Drake shared their war cry cover of his song to 145 million followers.
Northwood School shared their war cry cover of Drake’s song Nonstop on TikTok which the Canadian musician in turn reposted on his Instagram stories to his 145 million followers. Within seconds, millions of people had seen the proudly South African school and it started trending.

Northwood School is a secondary school based in Durban North that has both day-to-day schooling and provides boarding for students from outside the Durban North area.

This is not the first time a war cry from Northwood earned the school headlines. The entire school came together last year to sing Shosholoza for the Springboks.

The war cry has gone viral and it is not only giving international viewers a reason to smile, but the comment section of the video is filled with South Africans loving the unity the video makes them feel.

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A sold-out Baxter theatre signalled a year of exciting events for Opera University of Cape Town (UCT) – including the opportunity to stage a world premiere, celebrating a student who was selected for an international scholarship and brighter bursary opportunities.
Opera UCT’s 2024 season launch presented a varied programme that signalled a year ahead full of good news, including world firsts, international collaborations and student achievements.

Opera UCT’s director, pianist and conductor, Professor Jeremy Silver, led a line-up of performances that clearly demonstrated the breadth and depth of talent the school has on tap.

Professor Silver remarked:

“Our activities also provide Cape Town’s arts scene with world-class operatic performances of which we can all be proud, and I am delighted that Opera UCT’s international status has ensured that this year, we have been chosen as the production partner for some important and seminal works, which we look forward to sharing with audiences of all ages.”

Opera UCT has been selected to stage the world premiere of an important and hitherto lost opera, Donizetti’s Dalinda, a production that will be led by Italian Director William Costabile Cisco and costume design by Letiticia Parvoleta Ivanova set to take place in early September 2024.

Silver says: “This is a great honour for Opera UCT and South Africa and is also an exceptional opportunity for our young singers, as the eyes of the arts world will be upon us when we stage this production in September, which is the cornerstone of our 2024 season.”

On the cards for later in the year as part of Opera UCT’s packed schedule, Silver teased the audience with hints of a fully staged production under the inspiring creative direction of a conductor and director from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as to a new Distinguished Alumni Recital Series that will take place during the season ahead.

The 2024 diary also includes the third annual Aviva Pelham Operetta Competition and the FMR Bursary Award Classical Instrumental and Vocal Finals, a competition that celebrates the very best of classical, jazz and African music thanks to the Rolf-Stephan Nussbaum Foundation.

In addition to the core academic programme that has ensured graduates are welcomed the world over, Opera UCT will host a series of masterclasses, competitions and international residencies that will contribute to the school and production house’s international standing and success.

The KT Wong Foundation has also established a new bursary programme for 2024, which assists aspiring graduate artists as they establish their professional careers. The first recipient of this generous bursary is Opera UCT tenor, Luvo Maranti, who was also a finalist in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia competition held in Cape Town in 2023.

More exciting news, is the announcement that UCT student soprano Molly Dzangare, has been awarded an Eva Kleinitz Opera Europa Scholarship, having been selected from more than 500 global applicants.

Three book launches and a further new addition to the line-up are also planned for 2024, and in April, following a packed March programme that includes several free concerts, Opera UCT will stage a large-scale performance complete with the UCT Symphony Orchestra of a concert entitled, The Sound of Freedom.

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Sprinter Shaun Maswanganyi set a new South African record in the men’s 200m short track at an indoor track and field meet in Texas over the weekend.
Maswanganyi clocked 20.41 seconds to eclipse the record previously held of 20.45 by Ncincilili Titi which had stood since 2018.

The 23-year-old also bagged a silver medal in the 60m race at the same event.

Born in Soweto, Maswanganyi attended St Alban’s College in Pretoria and now thrives as a student-athlete at the University of Houston. He currently holds the South African 60-metre indoor U20 national record and the South African U20 national 100-metre record.

Maswanganyi said afterwards: "Breaking records is not just a personal victory; it's a celebration of the unwavering spirit and support that fuel South African athletes worldwide. Together, we pave the way for future generations to carry the torch of excellence proudly."
Last year, Maswanganyi set a personal best of 9.91 seconds in the 100m. He achieved this feat as he claimed a bronze medal in the 100m final at the US National Collegiate Athletic Association Outdoor Championships in Austin, Texas.

That effort was particularly significant as it meant Maswanganyi had run faster than two former world-record holders, Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell.

The 9.91 time by Maswanganyi was also a new University of Houston record, surpassing Cameron Burrell’s 9.93 in 2017 and his father Leroy’s 9.94 from 1990, while Lewis’ college best was 10.00 in 1981.

Both men have coached Maswanganyi at Houston, with Leroy Burrell – who’s 100m world record stood at 9.85 – being in charge of the school’s athletic programme previously, while Lewis (9.86 personal best) is the current head coach.

Maswanganyi’s 9.91 time is the second fastest 100m by a South African, behind record-holder Akani Simbine (9.84) and ahead of Wayde van Niekerk (9.94), Gift Leotlela (9.94), Thando Roto (9.95), Henricho Bruintjies (9.97) and Simon Magakwe (9.98).

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The 2024 World Aquatics Masters Championships saw an abundance of good news for South Africa thanks to an epic performance from the swimmers representing the Rainbow Nation in Doha. Together, these swimmers raked in 17 gold medals, seven silver medals and 17 bronze medals, while setting new local, competition and world records.
Ingrid Trusler started off the victory path after she placed first in the 65-69 age group in water swimming before setting a South African and masters championship record when she came first in the ladies’ 800m.
South Africa scooped a few bronze positions in various heats alongside a dazzling first place from Marc Allen in the men’s 100m freestyle in the 45-49 division. Tim Shead, who also set a competition record, earned gold in the 100m breaststroke (70-74 division).

Shead didn’t slow down there and neither did Trusler. Both swimmers added more gold to their tallies in the men’s 50m breaststroke and women’s 400m freestyle, respectively. Not to mention that Trusler made a mighty splash with another South African record and a championship record.

But this was only the beginning of the victory laps. Greg McLeroth and Sally Ralfe scored silver, while Shead, Calvin Maughan, and Allen shone brightly in first place in the gold lane.

Allen’s win in the men’s 100m butterfly saw him set both a world record and a competition record.

In the relay races, South African teams earned medals across the board. The mixed freestyle relay Cape Town Masters Swimming Club (CTMSC) team even set a world record and a competition record while the mixed medley relay matched that energy and made the same records. A special shoutout to the CTMSC men’s freestyle relay team whose first place saw them set a competition record.

By day six, Shead had set yet another competition record for the men’s 200m breaststroke while Harald Ruck joined the competition record rockers for his 50m backstroke.

Allen went on to set another world record on day seven for the men’s 50m butterfly while other swimmers earned gold (Ingrid Trusler and Cecilia Stanford) and bronze for their efforts.

“South Africa, you totally rocked the pool with your talent, showing the world what you’re made of. You’ve inspired us all with your dedication and spirit,” shared Melanie Van Wyk.

All in all, the Masters Championships saw South Africa relish in:
  • 17 Gold wins
  • Seven Silver wins
  • 17 Bronze wins.
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The inaugural over-40s International Masters Cricket (IMC) World Cup was hosted in South Africa recently and our incredible home team won, beating New Zealand by six wickets.
The IMC hosts tournaments for over 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s teams. The IMC was officially established on 6 August 2023, which included members from all 14 member nations. The AGM brought the over-60s and over-70s into the fold, meaning that IMC now covers all four age groups.

Countries involved include major cricket nations like the United Kingdom (Wales competes as a stand-alone team), India, Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies and Sri Lanka; other countries also involved include Zimbabwe and Namibia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Canada and Pakistan.

“South Africa have won the IMC over-40s World Cup, beating New Zealand by six wickets in the Grand Final.

“South Africa bowled fantastically to restrict the powerful New Zealand batting lineup to just 155 (tournament top run-scorer Hardeep Singh hit 55) and then worked their way methodically to the target with about nine overs to spare. Werner Moolman top-scored with 45 not out.” – International Masters Cricket
“It was a well-deserved win for the hosts, who only suffered one loss during the tournament, to New Zealand in round robin play.

Congratulations to South Africa, and to all the teams that made this a fantastic inaugural over-40s World Cup!” – International Masters Cricket

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The Basketball African League (BAL) Season four tips off for the first time on South African soil next weekend. Cape Town Tigers CEO Raphael Edwards believes that the biggest winner from this event will be the South African economy.
The BAL Kalahari conference is coming to the Sunbet Arena, Pretoria from 9 to 17 March 2024. Edwards, who is also the co-founder of Tigers and has been behind the efforts to drive BAL in the country, expects this tournament to contribute millions of dollars to the local economy.

"I'm excited because a big reason is it brings a lot of money to the country. We've been operating here, we've been paying people, we pay the vendors, etc. We're growing a brand, we are building awareness, teams from other countries fly in to play us. Now with BAL being here, it really puts South Africa under the spotlight,” Edwards said.

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The Springbok Women's Sevens will leave Los Angeles with their heads held high after recording their best finish thus far in the 2024 HSBC SVNS season with a sixth-place finish.
The performance also saw them jump to their highest position on the standings, as they moved into tenth position.

Despite defeats on the final day of the tournament to the United States (US) in the Cup quarter-finals and France in the fifth-place play-off, Springbok Women's Sevens head coach, Renfred Dazel was full of praise for his squad's effort, with wins over Fiji and Brazil on day two at Dignity Health Sports Park earning them their best finish of the season.

"We fell away in our last match against France a bit and that was not the way we wanted to finish, but I am very proud of the effort from the squad this weekend," said Dazel.

"Those two wins were real rewards and even in the Cup quarter-finals, we fought well against the US in front of their home crowd."

The move upwards on the log was another plus, while Dazel was also pleased that the weekend's performances came on the second weekend of back-to-back tournaments.

"That was another improvement for us – in the other back-to-back tournament cycle, Dubai and Cape Town, we fell away in the second week," he said.

"This time we improved in the second tournament and showed that we can handle the intensity of two tournaments in as many weeks. That was something we wanted to improve on, so it is very rewarding for all involved."

South Africa lost 24-7 to the US in the Cup quarter-finals before France outplayed them 53-0 in the playoff.

"That last performance was another lesson learned," said Dazel. "We coped well in the US match, but the performance against France was not how we wanted to finish.

"When you play the top five sides in the tournament, you must upgrade your effort even more.

"We did not suffer any significant injuries this weekend, so that is another positive as we will be able to start preparing for the Hong Kong event early in April with a full squad."

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From Kimberley to the world, skateboarder Damian Bramley is making epic moves on international skateboarding paths as he guns for his spot at the Paris Olympics.
Damian Bramley, a local 23-year-old skateboarder who calls Kimberley home, is showing off his skateboarding skills to the world as he participates in the World Skateboarding Tour: Dubai Park and Street 2024.

Bramley’s talent with wheels caught a lot of attention at the Kimberley Diamond Cup, so much so that the provincial government has gotten on board (pun intended) in backing their lad.
Taking place in March in Dubai, the World Skateboarding Tour could be Bramley’s ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics. The event will be a segue to the next stage of qualifiers for Olympic qualification set to take place in Shanghai and Budapest later this year.

“Competing at the World Skateboarding Tour Dubai: Park and Street 2024 is a dream come true for me. The opportunity to compete against the best in the world and earn a spot in the Paris Olympics is something I’ve worked tirelessly for, and I’m grateful for the support of my community and the provincial government,” Bramley shared.

Skateboarding as an Olympic event only made its debut in Tokyo in 2021, which means it is still a relatively fresh discipline at the most prestigious games. Seeing a South African wave our flag in this sense is hugely exciting, as is Bramley’s journey to get there.

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