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MINISTER LEADS CONTINGENCY TO GERMANY (article first published : 2006-06-17)

South Africa's flourishing cultural industries are preparing for a groundbreaking initiative that will put this sector of the country's economy on the global map.

As part of a commitment to establish closer cultural ties between Germany and South Africa, organisers of the Sommerköln Festival in Cologne are providing a platform for a week-long celebration of South African culture. Working with the national Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), the Artistic Director - Jerry Mofokeng and his team have developed a programme that turns the spotlight on the astonishing diversity of cultural industries and activities that have thrived in the 12 years since the inception of the country's first democratic government.

Commenting on the upcoming slate of cultural activities, Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr Z. Pallo Jordan said that this was a unique opportunity to place this vibrant and dynamic part of the South African economy on the global platform.

"We are delighted to be taking part in the Sommerköln Festival, particularly at a time when the eyes of the world are on Germany and so many different people will be visiting Cologne.

"It gives us the unique opportunity to display craft that is not only beautiful but also provides a living for people in the furthest reaches of our country. We are also bringing poets, musicians, storytellers dancers and actors to the festival, all of whom will bring our culture alive in the most special way. And, of course, we will be showcasing some incredible musical talents - from contemporary chart-toppers to those keeping our musical heritage alive.

"The whole programme makes for a great insight into just what our cultural industries are all about and how far we have travelled since the end of apartheid. We are also hoping that by showcasing in Germany in 2006, we will stimulate the interest of the visitors we will be welcoming in 2010 to explore South African culture in all its diversity."

Dr ZP Jordan, who will be a special guest of the city of Cologne for the duration of the South African visit, will be hosting several of the key activities taking place during the Sommerköln Festival. In addition to Cologne, South African culture will also be showcased in Berlin, when Johnny Clegg and Jabu Khanyile, amongst others, will perform with several top global artists at the World Day Fan Club concert on July 2.

South Africa's Sommerköln Festival programme begins on July 1st, when the Beautiful Things exhibition opens at the Gallery House Seippel. Running until July 31, the exhibition will present the works of South African ceramists, traditional Zulu potters, print makers and others.

On July 2, an evening of prose, poetry and the spoken word will be held at the Kunstsalon and will feature young guns, including Maakomele Manaka and Lebo Mashile, as well as master story teller Gcina Mhlope-Becker and legendary poet, Keorapetse Kgositsile.

Music is the focus of the cultural activity on July 3. The Tanzbrunnen open-air stage will showcase the always engaging, deeply rooted music of Johnny "le Zoulou Blanc" Clegg and his long-time creative collaborator, Sipho Mcunu.

On July 4 and 5 at the Tanzbrunnen Theatre, the art of dance is placed centre stage as imaginative choreographer, Tyrone Watkins, brings together dancers drawn from Pretoria based Tshwane Dance Theatre, Footsteps and Batswana Dancers in a display that includes contemporary, urban and uniquely South African dance forms (pantsula and gumboot). This dazzling display will be complemented by performances from some of South Africa's best artists including award-winning, classically-trained vocalist, Sibongile Khumalo, as well as sensational Afro-fusion sensation, Freshlyground, who will both add their singular sound to what promises to be an unmissable evening's entertainment.

South African artists are also on the bill of a Jazz festival, taking place on July 6 and 7 at the Stadsgarten. Tlokwe Sehume, the innovative jazz musician, will perform alongside the Kholwa Brothers, who are following in the Isicathimaya footsteps of the likes of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.




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