South African Tourism makes big push to lure Chinese visitors

Yang Feiyue
Displayed with permission from China Daily

South African Tourism, which held events in Beijing on  Feb 27 and in Shanghai on March 1, will hold its next event in Hong Kong on 3 March.

This year it is focusing on the excitement, surprise, joy and awe awaiting Chinese visitors to South Africa.

“We are proud to invite visitors to encounter the jaw-dropping ‘Wow!’ moments, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and unforgettable adventures found nowhere else in the world,” says Bradley Brouwer, the president of the Asia Pacific for South African Tourism.

“South Africa casts a spell because it is not manufactured and mundane but authentically raw and unfiltered, which is exactly what today’s travelers seek,” he says.

A total of 117,000 Chinese visitors from China visited South Africa last year, representing a 38 percent year-on-year increase.

South Africa offers Chinese visitors compelling experiences combining pristine nature, wildlife, a city lifestyle, affordable luxury and amazing adventures from mountain hiking to shark cage-diving.

To encourage a seamless travel experience for Chinese citizens, South African Tourism has established visa facilitation centers in nine Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

– Repubhub

It’s Maslenitsa (Pancake) week in Russia!

Russians never miss an opportunity to celebrate! Known for its myriad of festivities, Russia celebrates the Maslenitsa Festival throughout this week. Maslenitsa Week  – also popularly known as Pancake Week – is typically celebrated during the week leading up to Great Lent and thus every day of the festival is celebrated with a specific ritual (see more below). This year it runs from 20 to 26 February and mostly consists of festivities marking the end of the Russian winter and eating blini (crepes).

First things first, where does Maslenitsa originate from? According to, the holiday is said to have found its origin in the Pagan tradition. Maslenitsa (derived from maslo, which means butter or oil in Russian) comes from the tradition of baking pancakes (or blini , in Russian).

Although back in the day it started as a sad day of remembrance of those who are no longer, the Russians turned it into a celebration with blini.

So, what actually transpires during the festival?

On the opening day of Maslenitsa (Monday), a straw-figure of Winter is made and dressed in old women’s clothing and accompanied by joyful singing whiled being carried on sleigh around the village.

Tuesday is known as “zaigrysh” (game day), this is also when the actual festivities kick off: sleigh riding, folk festivals, skomorokh (traveling actors) and puppet shows. It’s a day of singing and laughter, mini on-the-spot concerts and loads of fun!

Wednesday – gourmand – is feast day with blini and other dishes, like hot sbiten (drinks from water, honey and spices), nuts, honey ginger breads and poured tea from boiling samovars, while Thursday is the highlight of the games – revelry. That’s also when the hottest fistfights took place.

If sons-in-law are treated to pancakes at their in-laws on Wednesday, it would be their turn on Friday to do the same.

Saturday is also family day when relatives paid visits to young wives, while Sunday is named “forgiveness”. Wherever forgiveness is needed and amends needed to be made, it is reserved for Sunday. At night, everyone would go to the cemeteries and “bid farewell” to the dead. On the last day of Maslenitsa, remnants of pancakes and food to the huge bonfire explaining their children that all the nourishing food disappeared in fire to prepare them for the Lent.

For additional information about the Maslenitsa Festival, click here.

–; Russia Beyond

– Images: Embassy of Russia 

Fashion Footprint in BRICS – designers you should know

The fashion industry is one that is longstanding and profitable, and exists in every corner of the world. From the rich traditional prints in the African countries, to China’s high-end fashion focus, everyone’s got something to boast for.

The annual BRICS Fashion Week is the ideal platform that has been created to give established and emerging designers, as well as companies inspired by BRICS Countries culture and design the opportunity to showcase BRICS countries fashion styles and trends to an audience who might not even beware of the he diverse opportunities.

We take a look at some of the most influential fashion designers within BRICS:

Manish Malhotra
was born in London but raised in Mumbai and first entered into the world of fashion as a model, before becoming a Bollywood costume designer in 1990. Ever since, he’s become a household familiar in Indian fashion. Malhotra has styled over 1000 films and known for redefining and modernising Bollywood costume design. Malhotra’s high couture label was launched in 1998 and fuses traditional Indian colours, fabrics and embroidery.

Ritu Kumar
Ritu Kumar’s label first launched in 1969 and was housed in a tiny studio on the outskirts of Kolkata. Years and many well-deserved accolades later, it is now one of India’s biggest brands with 27 stores across the country. Kumar is known for her use of fine Indian fabrics with the help of India’s most talented craftspeople. Many admire her endeavour to redefine age-old Indian traditions in the contemporary era, creating a style that is both rich in Indian aesthetics and modern sophistication. Kumar’s hard work and passion for the industry has earned he prestigious awards including France’s Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and India’s Padmi Shri Award for her contributions to fashion, textiles and craftsmanship.

Guo Pei
is one of China’s first-class designers; more often than not the one celebrities call on for special events. She has is well-known to Chinese fashion circles since her career took off at the age of 19. Pei as received both local and international won recognition for her garments which are both modern and displays Chinese elements like embroidery. Pei’s design company is named “Mei Gui Fang”.

Uma Wang
Chinese fashion designer Uma Wang’s label is no stranger to the cat walking, having showcased at London, Paris and Milan fashion weeks while garnering critical acclaim from industry greats such as Franca Sozzani and Hung Huang .Wang was also awarded a number of awards such as the 2011 Audi Progressive Designer Award, the Beijing CCDC Best Designer award in 2010 and the Shanghai Fashion Week award for the Finest Craft and Best Creativity. In 2012, she was selected as the first Chinese designer to take part in the inaugural CFDA/China Exchange Programme, where she brushed shoulders with several high profile industry insiders while being exposed to the U.S market. Wang is also stocked in several boutiques in London, Milan and New York.

Francisco Costa
is a Brazilian designer and the Women’s Creative Director of Calvin Klein Collection. Costa won the Council of Fashion Designers America (CFDA) awardfor Womenswear Designer of the Year in June 2006[3] as well as in June 2008. Costa also won the National Design Awardin 2009 in the category of Fashion Design.
Costa was not familiar wit the English language and decided to enroll in a language class at Hunter College and while taking courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology by night. He was later employed by Herbert Rounick, whose company made dresses for Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass. Costa went to work for de la Renta after Rounick’s death, designing for the firm’s Japanese licenses. Costa owes his expertise to de la Renta, whom he says taught him the most about both designing clothes and life.

Barbara Casasola was born in London but raised Brazil-born fashion designer. She showcases two womenswear collections a year for her label during London Fashion Week. Casasola graduated first in her class in 2007 from Istituto Marangoni, Milan, Italy after which she was hired by Roberto Cavalli in Florence as assistant designer for the women’s wear main line. Casasola stayed with Cavalli in Florence for nearly three years before she moved to Paris to consult for a number of major fashion houses. She made her catwalk debut at White Cube in 2013, and her Spring Summer 2014 show was dubbed a “triumphant first showing” by CR Fashion Book. Casasola designs from her studio in London and her collections are made in Italy and available at department stores and boutiques such as Harvey Nichols, Matches, Joseph, Net-a-Porter, Luisa via Roma Florence, Joyce Hong Kong and online at Moda Operandi. Her garments have been worn by Kate Bosworth, Rita Ora, Alicia Vikander and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Alexander Terekhov
is a Moscow Institute of Fashion and Design graduate Alexander Terekhov and is fortunate to have gained experience at Yves Saint Laurent fashion house in couture capital Paris. Terekhov is known for his sensitivity to sensual femininity and close attention to tailoring. He has partnered with Walt Disney to create a collection of beautiful gowns, all inspired by the film The Wizard of Oz, titled The Great and Powerful and has also teamed with the Italian handbag brand Coccinelle. Terekhov’s brand was established more than ten years ago and in 2011 he was awarded with the title of Designer of the Year at Russian GQ Magazine‘s Man of the Year Awards.

Valentin Yudashkin, a prominent Russian fashion designer, is the only Russian designer to be bestowed with membership to the prestigious Syndicate of High Fashion in Paris and is a National Artist of Russia. Yudashkin was born in Moscow and always had a keen interest in fashion. In 1987 he launched his first collection. His 1991 Faberge collection was inspired by the famous Faberge eggs which launched him internationally.

South Africa
Thula Sindi
is a Johannesburg-based designer who creates contemporary, sophisticated, elegant and timeless ladies wear. His garments are inspired by the modern woman. He studied at the London International School of Fashion and had grown to be a household favourite. After working for Vlisco, a textile company, Sindi launched began his own clothing label. His designs are both chic and elegant, and have been recognised by industry greats. They are also designed, manufactured and marketed in-house.

Laduma Ngxokolo has been dubbed one of Africa’s finest knitwear designers. He is the brainchild behind the Xhosa-inspired knitwear brand MAXHOSA BY LADUMA. 
Ngxokolo’ brand was established in 2011 with a desire to explore knitwear design solutions, best suited for the amakrwala (Xhosa initiates) traditional dress. Ngxokolo himself has undergone the ritual and he felt that he needed to develop a premium knitwear range that celebrates traditional Xhosa beadwork easthetics, using South African mohair and wool. He has received numerous achievements far and wide from South Africa, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Oslo, Berlin and New York. Ngxokolo recently won the 2015 Vogue Italia Scouting for Africa prize to showcase his collections at the Palazzo Morando Show in Milan, Italy. Furthermore, Ngxokolo was awarded the 2014 WeTransfer Scholarship to study masters in Material Futures at the Central St. Martins and graduated in 2016.


Images: Pinterest

5 Reasons Why Africa Is Not Behind In Technology

Research has shown that more households in Africa own a mobile phone than have access to electricity or clean water. A definite sign of the times.

Over the last couple of years, the African continent has seen major advancements in technology – from both an adoption and manufacturing point of view. The ecommerce wave has officially hit us, and rather than sinking, the African market is learning to swim, very quickly.

Technology companies, much like Realm Digital, have gone on to see great success in the local and international markets, and foreign investors are more keen and comfortable to invest their money in this market segment.

While the continent’s infrastructure continues to be a challenge in the embracing of technology, the market is willing to engage with new technology to improve their education, knowledge and skills.

Here are five points showing the current, and future landscape of technology in Africa.

1. In West and Central Africa, Nigeria leads the way in usage with 63 million internet users, ranking 9th in the world. Most of the access is through mobile devices – no surprise there.

2. While ecommerce adoption has been slow, Africa is set to see a spike over the next couple of years. Considering the terrain realities in Africa, retailers are starting to cater to their entire customer demographic by allowing for cash on delivery and even setting up online malls.

3. Nairobi has become the tech hub of Africa. It is believed that the ICT sector in Kenya is set to contribute up to 8% of the country’s GDP by next year. Great emphasis is placed on innovation and entrepreneurship in Kenya, and the government is putting effort into creating the adequate environment to encourage innovation, especially amongst the youth. The past 15 years has seen Kenya’s internet penetration go from less than one percent, to over 70%.

4. Cloud computing – not just another buzz word, it is being hailed as an ‘African success story’. The continents’ leaders believes that cloud technology has the potential to transform the technology industry and even our daily activities. In Nigeria, pharmacists and patients are using a cloud-based service to verify the authenticity of prescription medicines, while in Kenya, local innovators created a cloud-based market-tracking app for farmers trying to get the best prices for their goods.

5. Rwanda recently launched Africa’s first drone delivery program. In partnership with a Californian-based startup, 50 to 150 daily deliveries of critical medical supplies to 21 locations of across Rwanda are taking place. Rwanda has a clear development strategy in place, with ICT at the heart of its transformation.

These five points only begin to paint the picture of what’s to come on the technology front. We are thrilled to be a part of digital transformation, not only in South Africa, but the African continent.

This article first appeared on Realm Digital.  Realm Digital is a global digital strategy and technology partner, specialising in digital solutions.

Esther Mahlangu honoured at the 2016 Lilizela Tourism Awards

On Sunday evening, the 81-year old Ndebele artist was awarded with the 2016 Minister’s Award at the Lilizela Awards which was held at Sandton Convention Centre. The South African Tourism industry paid tribute to Mam’ Esther for being a tourism innovator and pioneer.

Mahlangu is no stranger to the Lilizela Awards, previously a category winner in the Roots and Culture category. Mahlangu’s bold, colourful and grasping Ndebele designs have landed her deals with global brands like BMW (contributing to the interior of the new BMW 7-Series), British Airways, Fiat and Belvedere luxury vodka.

In presenting her with the award on Sunday evening, South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom said: “The Lilizela Tourism Awards give us the opportunity to celebrate trailblazers such as Mam’ Esther, as well as service excellence in the South African tourism industry in general. Tonight is an opportunity to pause and thank these individuals and businesses for their contribution to putting South Africa firmly on the global stage by ensuring their product and service offerings are of the highest standard.”

Read more about Esther’s journey and follow the story behind the pioneer in the second edition of BRICS Journal – in stores now. 

-Tourism Edition
– Images: BMW Blog

The Motherland Declares Victory

She stands 85 meters tall, raising a sword with her right hand and extending the left hand. She stands tall and dominates the skyline of the Volgograd state in southern Russia.

The statue is built on the grounds where the Stalingrad battle took place during World War II. It is also a symbol of Russia’s triumph and an honour to the soldiers who laid down their lives during battle.

It holds the position of being the tallest free standing (non-religious) statue in the world. The statue is not fixed to the base plate it stands on. It is solely supported by its weight. Over two million people visit the statue annually.

The Motherland Calling is part of a bigger memorial complex dedicated to the heroes of the Stalingrad battle.

For more information, visit

Cuisine and Culture

By Ariane Sommer

Next to living within a country and speaking the language, food is one of the most important means to understanding a culture.

I fell in love with the philosophy behind food in China. The principles of yin and yang – hot and cold, male and female – lie at the heart of Chinese cuisine and can be found in any of its dishes.  

You can learn culture through cuisine. The way we consume and acquire it, the fashion in which it gets cooked and by whom, who is invited to the table and who eats first, such tradition is a form of nonverbal communication – a social code abundant with meaning.

Cuisine is a source of pleasure and pride, elevating the basic act of eating from a purely biological necessity to an art. In many places of the world it is one of the main instruments of socialisation and identification.

Every culture has designated what it considers to be edible, which type of animal can be eaten and how it should be prepared – Judaism and Islam being among the most prominent instances. Food often is used symbolically by nations; it tells us what is important to them and can educate us about their history.

The concept of joie de vivre, for example, is reflected in the finesse of the French cuisine, with unique national dishes such as coq au vin, and pot-au-feu. France is probably the country in the world most obsessed with food definitions. Tremendous protocol is i volved in the act of branding a product. People can deliberate for hours on what a French baguette is supposed to be, and will de- fend their position furiously. But we forgive them, after all, Brie de Meaux isn’t just any brie, champagne isn’t just any sparkling wine – and a French baguette has a very specific recipe, a fact reaffirmed when I returned home from my trip to Paris and searched in vain for a decent equivalent.

So-called “national dishes” render a concise picture about how a culture interacts within and how it wishes to be seen from the outside. The Sachertorte from Austria comes to mind, a result of the vibrant late-19th century Vienna coffee-house culture which prevails to this day. Or the Yorkshire pudding and chicken tikka masala of Great Britain, the incorporation of the latter being evidence of a long-standing history of colonialism and immigration with India. National dishes, or what we perceive as such, also function as stereotypes. Although most of these have positive or neutral connotations, they can as well acquire a derogatory tone.

Read more at BRICS JOURNAL…


The Big Screen Boom

By Nishant Joshi

Actress, screenwriter and director Jeanne Moreau described cinema as “the mirror of the world”, a concept that has assumed increasing relevance in a world overloaded with so much information that it is often difficult to separate noise from authentic information. Likewise, a film camera possesses latent power in its ability to both set the scene for culture and serve as its catalyst.
It’s a well-worn trope: art reflects society, which in turn absorbs the art into its culture. As such, art is an
integral part of the life blood of all countries. This is even more relevant in the emerging BRICS nations, which are constantly finding new ways in which to affirm their respective identities on the international stage. Each member nation of BRICS possesses a unique culture, of which cinema plays a key role.

View full article here