South African President Thabo Mbeki praised Canada for appointing a black woman as governor general and said it set an example for Europe in its treatment of African migrants.
Mbeki was speaking after receiving Governor General Michaëlle Jean at the Union Buildings yesterday as part of a five-country African tour to cement ties between Canada and the continent.
The Haitian-born Jean last year became the first black and third woman to be appointed governor general, who serves as the Queen’s representative in Canada.
“It is very good to see Canada appointing a governor general who is both black and a woman,” Mbeki said. “It communicates a very strong message that it is possible everywhere else in the world to have black people in power.” He said Jean’s appointment highlighted the multicultural and multiracial make-up of Canada and he contrasted this with the treatment of African immigrants in Europe.
Jean, accompanied by a delegation of legislators and representatives of Canadian businesses, arrived in South Africa last weekend after visiting Algeria, Mali and Ghana.
She called South Africa a “pathfinder” on the continent and praised its achievements in the last decade since the end of white minority rule.
South Africa is Canada’s leading trading partner in Africa, and bilateral trade amounts to around four billion rand, equivalent to more than $600 million a year. Jean said her “African journey” was to raise awareness in Canada about positive development in Africa.