South Africans and embassy officials on Saturday braved the scorching sun to partake in the Diplomatic Fair at the Union Buildings.

The fair, the brainchild of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, has been held annually in October since 2006 and serves as a key platform to educate the public about diplomacy.

The event held at the southern lawns brings together embassies, high commissions and international organisations accredited to South Africa to showcase and promote cultural diplomacy through art, music and cuisine.

This year around 60 embassies set up exhibitions where they showed off their respective countries’ culture.

Carrying water bottles and hats firmly propped on their heads, South Africans interacted with the foreign embassy representatives, curious to know about the different countries and their traditions.

Others tasted the different countries delicacies while checking out the countries cultural artefacts and history.

I’m at the fair because I want to see different cultures and have fun. So far the Chinese exhibition has stood out for me, said Ursula Mgidi who attended the fair.

Leandra Myburgh, 14, said her love of experiencing different cultures had brought her to the fair.

She said learning about different countries and their cultures will help her choose where she will study when she goes to university in a few years’ time.

As music blared from several exhibitions, Eritrean representative to South Africa Ambassador Salih Omar Abdu said South Africa and his country – located in the horn of Africa – have a cordial relationship.

Eritrea has exhibited at the fair since its inception and last year won the most authentic stall award from International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

This is a good opportunity to exhibit annually at the fair as it introduces Eritrea as a young country to South Africans that may not know my country well. South Africa and Eritrea have a common history having gotten their independence from the colonial regime, said the Ambassador.

The exhibition we have prepared reflects the reality on the ground of our country, politically and economically. Eritrea is considered to be the most stable island in our sub region, he said.

Eritrea opened its embassy in South Africa in 1995.

We aim to strengthen our good relations that are already in existence, said the Ambassador, adding that the two countries have several similarities.

The German Embassy’s Steffen Scholz said the annual fair was a fun event.

We are exhibiting here because we want to showcase our country and we always have fun at the fair, said Scholz.

The fair also boasts several performances with local musician Babes Wodumo and Bucie due to perform at the fair.

Source: South African Government News Agency

News Reporter