State visit to South Africa: Cultural event
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for the Queen and me to be back in South Africa. We were here in 1998 – almost 12 years ago. We are grateful to have an opportunity to see with our own eyes the changes that have taken place since then.
The Queen and I are not the only Norwegians who have discovered that South Africa is alive with possibilities.
South Africa has become a favourite tourist destination for many Norwegians. Last year, more than 20 000 Norwegians travelled the long distance to South Africa to enjoy the hospitality and the spectacular wildlife and scenery that this country offers. We do not expect the number of Norwegian visitors to decrease the years to come.
At the same time, we are happy to see that a more South Africans are also finding their way to Norway.
Earlier today, The Queen and I met with a number of Norwegian businesspeople who are here tonight. They work in shipping, oil and gas, information and communication technology, marine observation and forecasting, renewable energy and a whole lot of other sectors. They told me that South Africa offers interesting business opportunities. But I have also been told that economic relations between our countries could be strengthened even further. I hope that this State visit will contribute to that.
Music is at the heart of our cultural cooperation. South Africa has a rich musical heritage, and the Queen and I are very happy that Mari Boine and her band are performing here today together with South African musicians.
Mari Boine is a Norwegian Sami artist and a practitioner of “world music”. Or as she herself suggests, “global music from the universal heart”. Her music is difficult to categorize, but it moves in the borderline between Sami, other folk music, jazz and rock. And she is inspired by South African music, as demonstrated by her latest CD.
Let us now listen to this fusion of musical tradition, let us enjoy what our people can do together, and let us be inspired by it.