It may be far away, but South Africa is seeking to get closer to Atlanta in terms of business and trade, especially this month as a flurry of events on the country descend on the Georgia capital.
Linked by a 17-hour Delta Air Lines Inc. flight to Johannesburg, the two locales also share a heritage of fighting racial discrimination, Atlanta with its civil rights movement and South Africa with its struggle to defeat apartheid.
Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille addressed that shared heritage as she signed a letter of intent with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed Friday to deepen collaboration between the two cities on issues ranging from urban agriculture to design and innovation.
Atlanta is one of the partners on a new Center for American Studies that will be housed in office space provided by the Cape Town city government. The two cities will also share ideas on city government, democracy and inclusion. Ms. Delisle even wants to foster an exchange of jazz artists.
But barring travel across the ocean, Atlantans might never get a better chance than the next few weeks to learn more about a country that has served as a gateway to Africa for many U.S. companies.
On Oct. 18, John Campbell, former ambassador to Nigeria and also a senior fellow for Africa Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, will discuss his book, “Morning in South Africa” at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.
The following day, Oct. 19, Zweli Mkhize, treasurer general of the African National Congress and former premier of KwaZulu-Natal province, will address “The South African Story: A View of Economics, Politics, Trade & Investment” at the Atlanta Center for International Arbitration and Mediation.
Both days, Judge Navanethem Pillay will be visiting from South Africa to give multiple talks on the intersection and conflict between national sovereignty and human rights. The South African national was the United Nations high commissioner on human rights from 2008-14 and was also a judge on the International Criminal Court and president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
She’ll be at Emory University Oct. 17, then will give a talk hosted by the National Center for Civil and Human Rights on the evening of Oct. 18. The World Affairs Council of Atlanta and the University of Georgia’s Dean Rusk International Law Center will facilitate a breakfast discussion Oct. 19.
Those who do want to take one of the world’s longest nonstop flights also have a few options.
Morehouse College alum Brad Jackson, a longtime American consultant in South Africa, is inviting Atlantans — especially music fans and female entrepreneurs — to the ESSENCE festival in November in Durban, a major port city on the Indian Ocean. The cost is $2,000, including airfare and all accommodations. The black women’s magazine puts on a similar event in New Orleans, a Durban sister city. (Global Atlanta is helping promote the conference — email email@example.com)
And the Georgia Department of Economic Development is taking a group of Georgia-based companies to Food and Hospitality Africa 2017 next May in Johannesburg.