Lisbon bids farewell to popular South African ambassador.jpg

Lisbon bids farewell to popular South African ambassador


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Lisbon’s diplomatic and business community bade farewell to one of the most dynamic and popular South African ambassador’s in many years.

South Africa’s annual Heritage Day, on Thursday, November 19, was chosen as the day to mark the four years of the ‘Cultural Ambassador’ Thandiwe Profit-McLean’s tenure in Portugal when bi-lateral business between the two countries increased an astonishing 45 per cent and Portuguese tourism to South Africa had soared by 10 per cent since 2005.

Above all, the ambassador, thanks to her tireless promotion and interviews on Portuguese television and in magazines and newspapers, worked hard in dispelling the image that the Portuguese had of South Africa “as just a country of crime”.

The ambassador had also worked ceaselessly in the field of arts and music by bringing many dance, theatre and musical groups to Portugal from South Africa and has been seen as an ambassador of South African culture in Portugal.

To commemorate the ambassador’s tenure and South Africa Heritage Day, the South African Embassy put on a gala party of music, dance and poetry at the Hotel Sheraton in Lisbon where South African food was served up.

Imbumba Stage Productions paid homage to the people of South Africa, her culture and popular music with ballet and modern choreographies highlighting the poverty and struggle of South African gold miners as well as a celebration of the country’s multiculturalism and her deceased singers and musicians who have made their mark on popular music over the past 30 years.

In the opening address tribute paid to Thandiwe Profit-McLean, the ambassador was described as an “enthusiastic, passionate and extremely able diplomat” known for her love of the arts and culture.

The ambassador said she was humbled by the presence of so many friends, guests and artists from South Africa and congratulated Portugal “for that wonderful goal” on November 18 which secured her participation in the World Cup in South Africa next year.

“I thank the people of Portugal for making my stay so wonderful here,” said the ambassador, who now will head South Africa’s Tourist Board, adding that bi-lateral relations between the two countries were “stronger than ever before”.

João Cravinho, the Portuguese Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, who attended the commemoration, praised Thandiwe Profit-McLean as a second Portuguese Ambassador to South Africa who had proved “a great diplomat” and was responsible for “our two states growing economically”.