CIVILIAN JUBILATION SET TO GREET ARMED FORCES DAY
The once upon a time war besieged Kimberley will find itself militaristically enthralled today. This morning’s gentle breeze will greet multitudes as civilian jubilation meets the friendliness of the army on the city’s streets. It shall be two-days in a week in Kimberley for Commander-in-Chief President Cyril Ramaphosa as he maneuver’s back to officiate at the Armed Forces Day celebrations today. President Ramaphosa was in the city for the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF) Inter-Faith service past Sunday.
Spokesperson in the Presidency, Mr Tyrone Seale, confirmed President Ramaphosa’s attendance as he had promised at the military assemblage in prayer. “President Ramaphosa will award gold medals to members of the SANDF for their outstanding work and service to the country. Following the Kimberley event, President Ramaphosa will return to Cape Town to attend the Budget Speech by the Minister of Finance.”
With the build-up activities of the Armed Forces Day already having proven to be a resounding success, Kimberley’s wounded old past of the Anglo-Boer and other wars evidenced by military museums, monuments and many a tourist site of attraction, will relish its hosting badge of honour. The President shall decorate South Africa’s bravest of soldiers at the Cenotaph World War Monument which mirrors the city’s military history and specifically commemorating local lives lost in the Great World War and World War 2.
Kimberley is also home to army bases such as 3 SAI Battalion and Diskobolos which is endowed with units. Whilst one of the world’s largest battle schools, the Lohatlha SA Army Combat Training Centre, is nestled 229 kilometres from Kimberley and nearby the town of Postmasburg.
Mr Seale also flagged the importance of the military spectacle that Kimberley has embraced for more than a week; “these celebrations also seek to expand public understanding of the role of the SANDF and it further demonstrate the capability and contribution to society of the country’s armed forces.”
According to the Presidency, Armed Forces Day commemorates the centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi, a steamship with 616 South African Black troops aboard, sank on its way to France in 1917 on this day February 21. Forlornly; the tragedy became one of South Africa’s worst tragedies of the First World War (1914-1918). The activities also serve as a centenary celebration of the SANDF’s first Commander-in-Chief Nelson Mandela who would have turned 100 years this year. The late global icon was at the presidential helm, at a time of the SANDF’s teething amalgamation process which has been remedied by a shared military culture and character that Kimberley has been witnessing.
Meanwhile, Kimberley has already been engrossed in multi-showcasing of the SANDF with the Air Force dominating its skies and other service branches exhibiting artillery, promoting army careers, rendering army entertainment and other activities of pomp and ceremony.