July 19, 2013
Paris had a slice of South African joy last night when the Eiffel Tower attracted attention to the celebration of International Mandela Day.
Celebrations in Paris started with a performance by the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra to mark the re-opening of the Place de la Republic. Thousands of people turned up to watch the performance.
Over a thousand South Africans, including artists, academics and sports people are benefiting from the cultural exchange that commenced in May and runs until December.
Madiba magic spread to Paris last night as the Eiffel Tower was lit up in South African colours to celebrate International Mandela Day. South Africa is the first country in the world which has been afforded the privilege of being able to pull such an event.
For three hours after sunset, the colours of the South African flag shone brightly over Paris. In addition to celebrating Mandela Day, the illumination of the tower forms part of the “South African Season in France”, a project of the National Arts Council aimed at strengthening people to people relations between the two countries.
Thanks to “The South African Season in France”, there were concerns that even though the Nelson Mandela International Day was celebrated all over the world and growing in popularity, the Day was relatively unknown in France. That has changed now as Thursday’s event presented an opportunity to give Mandela’s birthday a special resonance across the European country.