We at VSAFF are thrilled to announce that the South African High Commissioner to Canada, His Excellency Membathisi Mdladlana, will attend this year’s festival.

The High Commissioner — who sat in Nelson Mandela’s Cabinet and is a great friend of VSAFF — is coming for his third visit. He will speak at the opening of the festival on Friday, April 8 at SFU Woodward’s, and will attend our Gala Party afterwards at Fluevog Shoes in Gastown.

He will also attend a number of our film screenings on Saturday, April 9.

Those who met the High Commissioner in the past will recall his charm, his humanity and his wonderful and inspiring reminiscences of the struggle against apartheid and for democracy in South Africa.

Before being appointed as High Commissioner to Canada, he was Mandela’s Minister of Labour from 1998-2010, and also served in the Cabinets of President Thabo Mbeki and President Jacob Zuma.

Mr. Mdladlana was a teacher in Gugulethu, and then a principal in Crossroads from 1974-92. During this period, he also served as a leader in the South Western African Teachers Association, Peninsula African Teachers Association, Cape African Teachers Union, and as a founding member and later first President of the South African Democratic Teachers Union.

In 1994, he was elected as a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly in South Africa’s first democratic election.