By Sophie Ogden, Institute for Cultural Diplomacy.
During the Ankara conference on Cultural Diplomacy as a Tool to Build Sustainable Peace, the Hon. Amb. Of the Republic of South Africa to Turkey, Vika M Khumalo shared South Africa’s experience towards Cultural Diplomacy.
In that regard it is important to know the background of South Africa, though when practicing Cultural Diplomacy it is not essential. The nickname of South Africa is “the Rainbow Nation” because of all its diverse and different cultures, languages, communities, religions (from traditional to Christianity) and so forth. Despite the fact they are not all official, they shape the country that is South Africa. During the Apartheid, a large part of the African culture was either ignored or repressed. This dark part of history allowed South Africa to remember how important cultural diversity is. In honour of this, on the 24th September of each year the “Heritage Day” is celebrated, commemorating ancestors, diversity and cultural heritage.
“You exist because of other people”. Sharing cultures helps countries and people in the way they will present themselves. Cultural Diplomacy enables mutual understanding and can be applied on the States and People’s level. For governments, it can also be a tool to disseminate values, ideas, national interests, to show their popular heritage and to influence International Organisations or States. Cultural Diplomacy goes hands in hand with Nation-Branding.
South Africa’s best example is the promotion of sport. In 2010 the country hosted the Football World Cup. In his opinion, entire Africa hosted the World Cup. This event impacted the country and Africa in several aspects: It promoted the continent, it consolidated South African relations with other African countries, it enabled them to retain a seat at the UN Security council and overall it projected them as a responsible country and actor to the world.
Cultural Diplomacy shall emphasize the interconnections between countries but also their uniqueness and solidarity. This Soft Power has been integrated into South African external and Internal Policy.
Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies Publication
Institute for Cultural Diplomacy