It was a magical night…
On Wednesday 22nd March, the Chamber was once again given a very warm welcome at Mansion House for our Annual Gala Dinner.
Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London, is a truly splendid building in every sense of the word.
Its walls are adorned with fine art and portraits of significant historical figures from its 265-year history, while the Egyptian Hall features gilt-topped stone columns, inspired by Roman architecture from Egypt, overlooking statues and busts around the sides of the room which date back to 1864. The beautifully ornate ceiling leads at each end to magnificent stained-glass windows.
We are truly honoured that our Annual Gala Dinner is becoming a new tradition in a place so steeped in history, right at the heart of the City of London.
Alderman Sir William Russell, who served as the 692nd Lord Mayor of the City of London from 2019 to 2021, began his welcoming address by recalling the dinner held at the Guildhall last year during the State Visit of President Cyril Ramaphosa, the first in the reign King Charles III, describing the relationship between South Africa and the UK as “one that continues to be vitally important for both countries”.
Referring to the screening of Sir Nick Stadlen’s remarkable documentary on the Rivonia Treason Trial, “Life is Wonderful”, which the City of London hosted with the Chamber via Zoom in November 2020, he noted that many of the key figures of that Trial, including Nelson Mandela, had been awarded the Freedom of the City of London.
We were then privileged to hear from South African Minister of Human Settlements, Mmamoloko “Nkhensani” Kubayi, who emphasised the importance of trade between the two countries. She then spoke about the government’s structural reform programme and developing partnerships with the private sector to deliver stronger infrastructure. South African High Commissioner to the UK, HE Kingsley Mamabolo emphasised the significance of last year’s State Visit, the importance of tackling climate change and continuing to develop trade, socio-economic ties, innovation and investment between our two countries.
Our Keynote Speaker, Andrew Selous MP, The Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to South Africa and Mauritius explained the role of a Trade Envoy in promoting trade and investment, and said that if he, and the current government, is re-elected, he hopes to continue to serve in the same role, which he has held for the last 5 ½ years. His ambition, he said, is to continue to promote trade and investment, and in turn to promote job creation and the reduction of poverty. He shared a couple of examples of collaboration between the two countries; a £5 billion investment in green energy in the form of an ammonia plant in the Coega Special Economic Zone which uses hydrogen to create fertiliser and fuel, and Anglo American’s investment in the decarbonisation of mining transport using hydrogen assets.
Watch the video below:
Entertainment was provided by Nic and Pearl Vani, who as always were amazing.
Roger Raatgever, on behalf of Finance Isle of Man, our lead sponsors for the event, talked about the healthy South African population on the island.
Lord Peter Hain gave the closing vote of thanks.
A big thank you to our Platinum Sponsor Finance Isle of Man, our Silver Sponsor Valufin, as well as Barclays, Genius Boards, Hogan Lovells, Absa, Standard Bank, Anglo American and Exceed for their sponsorship of this, the Chamber’s flagship annual event.
Thanks also to photographer Robynne Van der Vegte, videographer Hazel Thompson, and printer of the Gala souvenir programme, Leopard Print.
Looking forward to next year
The SA Chamber UK is already looking forward to next year’s dinner, as we will be hosted by the expected incoming Lord Mayor, Alderman, Professor, Dr. Michael Mainelli, who was present at this year’s dinner and has been a friend and strong supporter of the Chamber over recent years.