National Independence Day for Poland was celebrated on November 10, 2023, at the Pretoria Country Club.

His Excellency Mr. Adam Burakowski and Mrs. Agnieszka Burakowska warmly welcomed guests upon their arrival.

One hundred and five years ago, Poland gained its independence. Reflecting on the warm welcome received upon arriving in South Africa, H.E Mr. Burakowski commented on the close relationship shared between Poland and South Africa. Later this year, South Africa and Poland will mark 32 years of diplomatic relations, forming the foundation of an increasingly dynamic and forward-looking relationship, especially in the realms of political and economic cooperation.

H.E Mr. Burakowski expressed gratitude to the South African government for the fruitful meeting of Heads of State. H.E. President Andrzej Duda met with H.E. President Cyril Ramaphosa and other heads of state from the African continent during the visit to Ukraine and Russia in June this year.

South Africa is Poland’s largest trade partner in Africa; trade relations account for nearly 24% of Poland’s total turnover with the African continent. Poland sees South Africa as a business gateway to the entire region. The total turnover in trade in goods between Poland and South Africa in 2022 exceeded 2 billion USD, marking the highest indicator not only for the Sub-Saharan African region but also for the entire African continent. There has been a further increase in bilateral trade in the last 8 months.

Reflecting on the historical relationship between the two countries, H.E Mr. Burakowski highlighted two events that signify cultural heritage cooperation. In April 1933, during the Second World War, a group of Polish refugees, comprising 500 children and 59 caregivers, reached South Africa. They were warmly welcomed, and a camp was established in Oudtshoorn where the refugees created their “Little Poland.” Currently, it is estimated that 10,000 to 30,000 Polish people live in South Africa.

The second event is the annual Commemoration of Warsaw flights, marking its 79th anniversary in 2023. This event honors the bravery and sacrifice of those who participated in the Warsaw Uprising and Relief Flights to Poland in the closing stages of World War II. The South African Air Force and pilots dropped around 500,000 containers, providing vital aid to the people of Warsaw.

An exhibition related to this event can be seen at the South African Military Museum in Johannesburg.

Guests enjoyed a classical music performance during lunch.

Long live Polish-South African friendship!

by Marion Kate