Ambassador for the Year of Science
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Interview with the special ambassador of the Year of Science, Motsi Mabuse
Motshegetsi "Motsi" Mabuse was born in 1981 in Mankwe, which is today part of South Africa. At the early age of 17, she was the runner-up in the South African championship for Latin American dance and gave up her law studies to pursue an international career in dance. One year later, the successful dancer moved with her dance partner and husband-to-be to Germany. Together, they won the German championship in 2009 and 2010. A few days ago she won the German championship 2013 with her current dance partner Evgenij Voznyuk in the category Latin American dance. In Germany, Motsi Mabuse is mainly known for her appearances on TV shows such as "Let’s Dance" and "Das Supertalent" and as an expert on South Africa for the ARD television channel during the 2010 football world cup.
As a special ambassador for the German-South African Year of Science 2012/2013, Motsi Mabuse also supports the scientific cooperation of the two countries. You can read about where she thinks the partner countries can learn from one another and which challenges the two countries will have to overcome in the future in our interview here.
The goal of the German-South African Europe science is to intensify cooperation between the partner countries and to promote scientific exchange. Where do you think the greatest potential for bilateral cooperation exists?
I think that it is particularly important that these two very different countries exchange ideas. Both partners can contribute a lot to advancing the cause of joint research work. I have come to know Germany as a country that has a lot to offer with respect to technological development and practical sciences. South Africa is unique with its diversity which doesn't exist in the same way in Germany. What I find impressive about this initiative is that these characteristics are combined to find solutions to global challenges.
Several events in the Year of Science contain targeted programs to promote women in science. How do you see the position of women in science in Germany and South Africa?
Equality between men and women in science is an extremely important issue. In the meantime, many programmes have been created to promote women. It is great to see that these programs are so well received because the position of women in science has to be further improved and strengthened around the world. I think it's important to focus more on stimulating the particular creativity of women also in the natural sciences. Last year, for example, I followed the South African "Women in Science Awards" with great interest. Projects in the Year of Science such as "Women in Science – Promoting Excellence and Innovation for Future Development" also explore this issue. Science depends on expertise from women. And the growing exchange between female scientists beyond country borders shows that the issue is becoming increasingly important internationally.
You are very particularly well-known among a younger audience in Germany through your numerous public appearances. What do you say to young people to persuade them to visit South Africa? What makes the country so unique?
I think that going to another country – be it to study, work or conduct research – has a positive influence on individual development. For my own country, I can say with absolute conviction: young people who are open to experiencing South Africa will be enthralled. The landscape, the wildlife, the different cultures and influences – the country is extremely diverse and the people are so warm and open. There is a special brand of joie-de-vivre that is very infectious!
If you could establish something typically South African in Germany, what would it be? And what would you bring to South Africa that you appreciate in Germany?
I don't have a general answer to this question. Generalisations can't be made about either country. Having said that, I think that the art of enjoying every day is stronger in South Africa. One thing that I appreciate about many Germans is their friendliness which for me has a lot to do with respect. For example, being on time is very important to me. The balance between discipline and an easygoing attitude is ideal for me. I think that both cultures can learn from one another.
What was your personal highlight of the German-South African Year of Science 2012/2013?
In my role as special ambassador to the Year of Science, I attended the 30th "birthday" of the "Polarstern" research ship in South Africa. The gala reception on the research ship which stopped at the Cape Town harbour was a fantastic experience. I had the chance to meet a number of interesting figures from the realms of politics and research and was also able to experience the conference the next day.
The German-South African Year of Science 2012/2013 is coming to a close – but the effects of the cooperation will continue to be felt. You are a special ambassador for the Year of Science. What do you hope for future collaboration?
The last 12 months have shown how productive the cooperation is between the two countries. I hope that the collaboration and the exchange of ideas will continue to solidify and grow. I am convinced that there will not only be new projects in the future but also large joint international programmes. I would like to encourage the organisations that played a prominent role in the Year of Science to work together. Regardless of on a particular problem or in a comprehensive initiative like the Year of Science: the greater the willingness to cooperate is, the more I think understanding between the two countries will grow.
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Celebrity ambassador for the German-South African Year of Science
The professional dancer, judge and television presenter Motshegetsi "Motsi" Mabuse is the ambassador for the German-South African Year of Science 2012/2013. The South African grew up in Pretoria and has lived in Germany for more than twelve years. She is now supporting the bilateral activities of the Year of Science.