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Power of culture

Updated: 2013-05-10 11:22
By Li Lianxing ( China Daily)

Power of culture

Paul Mashatile says culture has an integral role to play in modern society and in international relations. Provided to China Daily

People-to-people exchanges will boost China-Africa ties, says South African minister

Culture should be at the heart of efforts to tackle some of the key challenges facing the global economy, and the binding force between nations, says Paul Mashatile.

Cultural affairs are the last thing that one would expect to associate with Mashatile, considering that most of his career was spent on matters pertaining to economy and trade. But South Africa's arts and culture minister has shown that he is not only adept at wearing different hats, but also passionate about what he wears.

Power of culture

"Culture has an integral role to play in modern society and in international relations. It is something that is irreplaceable and as yet waiting to unleash its full potential," he says.

"It (culture) is the soul of a nation, and everything flows from there. When a soul-to-soul relation is established, relations between two sides, including business and trade, will be lasting and smooth."

Mashatile's comments assume significance as it comes at a time when China and Africa are embarking on a new phase of cooperation aimed at more people-to-people exchanges.

"Though business and commercial ties between China and Africa have prospered considerably, there is still a lot that needs to be done when it comes to the people-to-people exchanges. The contacts and connections are already in place. All it needs is a strong push," the minister says.

Elucidating his point, Mashatile says that though many South Africans know about Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, they are still at odds when it comes to Chinese arts, music and culture.

"There is a lot that needs to be done to make African people understand the magnificence and beauty of Chinese arts and culture. I myself quite enjoy the traditional music from China."

Mashatile is vocal and enthusiastic on matters pertaining to culture. "If a relationship is only built on economic and trade interests without any cultural connection, it will be something that is without a soul and something that won't last long," he says.

Programs like the one floated under the banner of the 2011 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation will go a long way in boosting bilateral cultural exchanges, says Mashatile.

"We are expecting the first Chinese Cultural Season in South Africa next year. Coincidentally it also comes at a time when we are celebrating our 20th anniversary as a republic. In 2015, we plan to send a huge team of singers, dancers and artists to China, to show them the real South Africa."

Stressing his point, Mashatile says that the focal point of all bilateral agreements should be enhanced youth communication in arts and culture.

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