Johnny Moloto, deputy chief of mission in the South African embassy in Washington D.C., discussed the positive steps that his country has taken to improve the condition and global view of Africa Saturday.
Moloto was introduced in the Sadler Center’s Commonwealth Auditorium by Christiana Kallon ’11, president of the African Cultural Society, and by Africana studies professor Berhanu Abegaz. Moloto was at the College of William and Mary as the keynote speaker for the African Cultural Society’s annual iREP Africa weekend.
Moloto spoke about how South Africa has changed since the end of apartheid, as it has become a democratic nation and improved the conditions of its people.
“I want you to think of Africa redefined — it is not a dark continent, but one full of light and opportunity,” he said.
Moloto cited the expansion of foreign investment in Africa as a key factor in redefining the continent. South Africa has inflation in the range of 1 to 3 percent, and was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in 2007. Its Gross National Product is now equal to those of Brazil and Russia.
“This was a huge jump, but not a surprise,” Moloto said.
The democracy that has been governing South Africa for the past sixteen years was critical in transforming South Africa into the nation that it is today. Before the emergence of a democracy, the country’s economy was slanted towards the white minority. According to Moloto, the current democratic government in place is working to balance out the South African economy in order to cater to the needs of every person in the country.
Moloto singled out the 2010 FIFA World Cup Soccer Tournament as an event that tremendously boosted the South African economy and worked toward changing the view of the African continent. South Africa was particularly proud to host this event, which according to Moloto, was the third-most attended World Cup following the 1994 and 2006 events held in the United States and Germany, respectively.
Moloto also stated that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has attended six World Cups, and reportedly thought that the South African World Cup was the best he had ever attended.
In addition, the World Cup helped to transform South Africa, both in reality and in the minds and perceptions of observers.
The tournament stimulated the South African economy, since the building of the stadiums created many jobs for low-income households. The government also allocated money for other aspects of the event.
“The tournament was a catalyst for the development of benefits that will still be felt long after it and the national pride and the inspiration to do more is a lasting effect of the World Cup,” Moloto said.