Ekhaya: SA's London 'home' now open
27 July 2012
The Ekhaya Hospitality Centre, a home away from home for South African athletes, fans and friends for the duration of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, opened at London's Southbank Centre on Thursday, with a packed programme of entertainment on offer.
The Ekhaya Hospitality Centre is being run by a host of national government departments - Sport and Recreation, Arts and Culture, Trade and Industry, International Relations and Co-operation, and Tourism - in partnership with South African Tourism and Brand South Africa.
The centre was opened on Thursday, a day before London Games' official launch, by South African Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula.
Mbalula announced a star-studded entertainment lineup for the centre, headed up traditional dance programme Dance Africa Dance and including the likes of The Parlotones, Thandiswa Mazwai, Afrika Mamas, Flash Republic, The Indigenous, and Natalia Molebatsi.
Place to meet, connect, get into the spirit
According to Noluthando Ngendane, Brand South Africa's public relations officer, the Ekhaya Hospitality Centre "has been created as a base for Team South Africa, its sportsmen and women, their friends and families and, of course, their supporters to gather.
"It is a place where the spirit of South Africa comes alive," Ngendane says.
The centre will be operational from 8am daily, with facilities including wi-fi and internet connectivity, meeting rooms, a media and business centre, a business lounge, function facilities, full coverage of all sports events, and a South Africa bar.
Ngendane says: "South African businessmen and women can use the facilities to network and showcase the success stories of our beautiful country to visitors from abroad and the rest of Africa."
Ekhaya Centre is at Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank Centre, Belvedere Road, London. It will be open for the Olympics from 26 July to 12 August and for the Paralympics from 28 August to 9 September.
Home away from home
Among other activities, the Ekhaya programme will feature a daily cultural exhibition; Olympic and Paralympic events broadcast on big screens; meetings for London-based local businesses to network; and celebratory events for Team SA.
Ekhaya is a hospitality programme at overseas events presented by the Department of Sport and Recreation in collaboration with partner organisations.
"Ekhaya Hospitality Centre is also intended to unite South Africans across race, gender, culture, geographical location, social status and class through sport, thereby promoting social solidarity and common citizenship," the department notes.
The department describes the Ekhaya Centre as "a home away from home" that provides an opportunity to:
- Drum up support for Team SA;
- Market and promote South Africa through showcasing its successes and venues such as stadiums as the preferred places to host international events;
- Inspire people to visit the country and experience the culture of ubuntu; and
- Host journalists both local and foreign, with the intention of profiling South African athletes, political principals and the country.
All South Africans, at home and abroad, are encouraged to wear their supporters T-shirts on Fridays to show their support for Team SA.
SAinfo reporter and Brand South Africa