SA celebrates with Obama

Millions of people around the world
will watch the historic inauguration of
president-elect Barack Obama.

Khanyi Magubane

As the United States comes to a standstill on 20 January to witness the inauguration of its 44th president Barack Obama, South Africa has planned its own series of celebrations.

Dubbed one of the most prolific moments in American history, the inauguration of Obama, America’s first black president, has grabbed the attention of the world.

The swearing-in of Obama as the nation’s 44th president on the west steps of the Capitol, Washington DC, at noon (7pm South African time) is expected to draw between one to three million spectators.  

South African ambassador to America Welile Nhlapo will represent the country at the celebrations.

No foreign delegations were invited to the inauguration and countries were informed beforehand that only those on ambassadorial level will be invited.

Not to be left out though, a glitzy, formal inauguration ball will held at South Africa’s Monte Casino on 20 January, where a live satellite transmission of the events will be screened.

Tickets to the now sold-out event were going at R1 000 (US$100) each.

Renowned South African film producer Anant Singh is also in the process of filming a documentary around the ascension of Obama to the top seat.

Singh was in America on election day in November 2008 when Obama was announced as the winner of the elections and declared the president-elect.

At the moment all that is left for Singh is to capture the final footage of the historic inauguration.

Currently, talks are in place with various South African and American TV networks to air the documentary soon after the swearing-in.

The documentary includes an interviews with Obama himself, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada, who hosted Obama in South Africa when he visited Robben Island.  

Television stations in South Africa will broadcast the event.

Party revellers will also be out in full swing as nightclubs in South Africa also host “inauguration parties”.

A Cape Town based nightclub Roots Club will be hosting an Obama party in Observatory, where revellers have been encouraged come dressed up in an American theme.

In Johannesburg, club goers will also be making their way to Sinabar. The popular nightclub will start the evening’s proceedings with a live broadcast of the swearing in.

President Motlanthe’s message to Obama

Although not attending the event, President Kgalema Motlanthe has issued a congratulatory message to Obama.

He hailed the profound place in history the event will always hold. “Your election to this high office of the American people, carries with it hope for millions of your country men and women as much as it is for millions of people of particularly of the African descent both in the continent of Africa as well as those in the Diaspora”.

Motlanthe reiterated that Obama’s victory is Africa’s victory. “Accordingly, Africa which today stands proud of your achievements, can only but look forward to a fruitful working relationship with you both at a bilateral and multilateral levels in our endeavour to create a better world for all who live in it.

“We express the hope that poverty and under-development in Africa which remains a challenge for humanity will indeed continue to receive a greater attention of the focus of the new administration,” said Motlanthe.

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