As part of the activities marking its 29th post-apartheid independence anniversary, the Republic of South Africa, in collaborating with Stallion NMN, Nigerian partner of Nissan Motor Corporation, is celebrating the event with week-long activities in Lagos, Nigeria.
The events, which kicked off on Saturday, April 22, 2023, culminated into a cultural night tagged, ‘A Night With the Stars’ on Sunday at Mike Adenuga Complex, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Organised by the Consulate General of the Republic of South Africa, the Sunday occasion was graced by the management of Stallion NMN Limited, Nigeria’s exclusive representative of Nissan automotive brand, film makers from the Nigeria and South Africa movie industry as well as newsmen and other important dignitaries from all walks of life.
Answering questions at the event, the Consular General, the Republic of South Africa, Dr. Bobby Moroe said the choice of celebrating the event in Nigeria was necessitated by the major role the latter played towards ending apartheid in South Africa.
He said: “The relationship between Nigeria and South Africa dates back to1946, when Nigeria became the first country in United Nations General Assembly to Chair anti-Apartheid Committee of South Africa.
“Being a frontline state, Nigeria played a major role in the liberation of South Africa. So, we are celebrating 29 years of formal diplomatic relations between Nigeria and South Africa since the 21st of February, 1994.
“We reflected back to where we came from and we thought what a better place to celebrate 29 years. These 29 years is a pre-cursor to 30 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which is going to be marked in 2024 next year. This is a preparation for another South Africa week, which would be titled: ‘South Africa and Nigeria at birth’ next year.
“We look at all these agreements that have been signed between Nigeria and South Africa. We have more than 26 agreements that have been signed and we thought let us select films for this celebration based on a number of what we believe are very critical agreements that have been signed. And culture is one of them. That is why we have activities centered on social cohesion between the people of South Africa and Nigeria.’’
On the collaboration with Nissan, Moroe did not only express excitement over the automaker’s partnership during the celebration, he also extolled the good quality of Nissan auto brand, thumping up for the new Nissan Navara built in Pretoria, South Africa.
“We are quite excited about the partnership,” he enthused, adding, “This is the beginning of a new relationship between South Africa Consulate and Nissan. So, we are optimistic that not only are we having partnership on this event, there are other issues we are going to engage them on.
“We are creating a platform in which Nissan will not only benefit from this type of activities we are having but other partners of ours not in the same industry.
“The story of Nissan is very compelling especially their partner in Nigeria, Stallion NMN. The new Nissan Navara Pickup designed and built for Nigeria roads, from engine, filter and fuel capacity is technologically equipped to whether the storm in Nigeria.”
Also speaking during the event, the General Manager, Amit Sharma, described Nigeria and South Africa as two nations with special bond.
“We were African leaders against the evil of apartheid. This is why it is special for us to be here this evening. It is more so, because South Africa is helping Nigeria to double up its efforts in the automotive industry development,” he said.
Recalling South Africa’s journey towards developing a virile auto industry, the Stallion NMN boss likened the Republic to an example of what can be achieved, when the public sector work hand in hand with the private sector in Nigeria.
He said: “Today, the South African automotive industry directly employs over 460, 000 individuals; in 2022, it contributed 4.3% to the country GDP and earned R207.5 billion in export which was 12.5% of South Africa total export value.
“There are numerous opportunities for us to follow South Africa’s footprint here in Nigeria and we can and we will do so. Local Motor Vehicle assembly is also important because it ensures the vehicles that we designed for Africa are made in Africa and at the very best for Africa.
“Our Navara Pick-up range is a fantastic case in this point. It is made in South Africa and the toughest vehicle ever designed by Nissan to make sure it is more than a match for Africa’s toughest roads.”
The South Africa’s 29th independence week, which is rounding up on Friday, is also creating a platform for Nigerian and South African business men and women to share ideas and collaborate.
Some of the highlights of the night included showcase of an animated film titled: “the Song Maiden” produced by Nkem Nwahuruocha, a documentary film celebrating Winnie Madela; an interview of Chinua Achebe by Wole Soyinka and a South African journalist, Lewis Nkosi, and a panel discussion on how the creative industry can forge a one Africa.