on a mission to beijing

Prominent South African political and soccer leaders will invade China's capital Beijing in the next three weeks on a two-pronged mission - promote the 2010 Fifa World Cup and watch the Olympic Games.

Prominent South African political and soccer leaders will invade China's capital Beijing in the next three weeks on a two-pronged mission - promote the 2010 Fifa World Cup and watch the Olympic Games.

Creating awareness of the quadrennial soccer spectacle will mainly take place at South Africa house, which will be known as Ekhaya, an Nguni word for home, from August 8 to 24.

"We are going all out to promote South Africa in China. The Ekhaya project is part of the year- long celebrations of 10 years of South Africa-China diplomatic relations," said Mmemme Mogotsi, a spokesman for the World Cup government unit.

"The project will consist of exhibitions, music and dance performances, as well as banquets and media events addressed by our ministers and representatives of the 2010 World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC).

"Much of the focus of activities at Ekhaya will be to create awareness of South Africa's hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, for which the country is feverishly preparing.

"An extensive exhibition will highlight the progress made in the preparations, including visuals of the 10 stadia where the games during the World Cup will be played."

Makhenkesi Stofile, the minister of sport and recreation, will host one of the first events at Ekhaya on August 9 where South Africa's readiness for the 2009 Confederations Cup and World Cup will be dealt with.

Stofile is also a member of the LOC's executive committee.

Mogotsi said there will also be the 2010 Media Face Off on August 20 in the form of an interactive panel discussion between South African leaders and the international media.

They will deal with issues like transport, tourism, safety and security as well as accommodation.

For this event, the South African leaders will include Danny Jordaan, the LOC's chief executive, Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi and Xoliswa Sibeko, director-general of the Department of Sport and Recreation.

Mogotsi said the Department of Arts and Culture has developed a programme where South Africa will also be promoted in the form of live Afro-jazz performances, home-grown films and poetry.

"Ekhaya will be up and running during the Paralympics," Mogotsi said. "This is a golden opportunity for us to promote our country."

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