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SA WEEK EXHIBITION IN PRAGUE (article first published : 2006-09-23)

EThekwini Municipality through Business Support Unit, INK ABM, Cato Manor ABM and SEDA-eThekwini are facilitating and supporting a cross section of the regionís creative and commercial businesses who are on their way to Prague in the Czech Republic.

Some 25 Durbanites will be in Prague showcasing the skills that they are using to help make Durban one of Africaís most exciting cities. This event coincides with the Celebrate Durban events here at home.

Featuring a full range of local talent, from dancers to agri-scientists to newly formed weaving co-operatives, the delegation presents alternative models of employment and economic development that are being used in eThekwini to alleviate poverty and stimulate employment.

The trade mission to Prague is facilitated by the Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Nomsa Dube (formerly speaker of the eThekwini Municipality). The long-term purpose of the exhibition is to transform existing informal markets into more financially viable entities, establishing retail outlets internationally and relevant sustainable employment opportunities.

The corporate social investment component of this project has been subtitled Silencing the Voice of Failure and is partnered by government and local business. The project will showcase a wide range of creative and potentially economically important industries including fashion, jewellery design, weaving, leatherwork, beadwork, dancing, modelling, music and ceramics.

The delegation will be accompanied by Fisani Mzimela from the eThekwini Business Support Unit as well as Eben Otto from the provincial Department of Arts and Culture and Zuki Vutela of ZSG Vutela, who co-ordinated the event.

Local fashion designer Amanda Laird Cherry and Shaun Dugen of Nguni Shades will display their designs. Jewellery will be represented by local designer Tanki Ramokoena of Hohang Skills Engineering cc with Durban beadwork manufacturers. Fabric producers Da Gama Textiles will present their distinctive shweshwe cloth, now an essentially African product that has its origins in Europe.

Writer, actress and poet Gcina Mhlope will prove her talents as a performer and wordsmith. Fura Simbeki, who rose to fame for his praise poems to Chris Hani, will hold the flame for eThekwini in Prague while Pinky Mtshali and her Durban Divas will present their cross-cultural cabaret.

Prague is a city that is defined by its love of culture. Durban/eThekwini has an equally rich but very different cultural heritage and so it is appropriate that the two cities and their respective cultures meet in this way. And no doubt after the four-day Durban mini-expo, Prague will be further enriched by the presence of Durbanís creative spirit.

This trip is the beginning of a programme that is conducted by the Business Support Unit aimed at opening new doors and creating opportunities for trade links overseas. Further trips are planned for Milan later this year. Trips to Reunion and New Mexico are also on the cards.

More information from Fisani Mzimela on 083 488 1698 or 031 718 2136 or e-mail: mzimelaf@durban.gov.za




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