It was a great honor and privilege to represent Israel at the World Stamp Championship held at the Cape Town International Convention Center in November.
The event was organized by the Philatelic Federation of South Africa and the Federation Internationale de Philatelie, in conjunction with the Government Department of Communications and Digital Technologies supported by the South African Post Office. The exhibition was held under the patronage of the former president Kgalema Motlanthe.
The theme of the exhibition was “The Road to Democracy.” South Africans can be very proud of their achievements commencing in 1994 with the peaceful transition that paved the way for a new democratic dispensation which changed the course of South Africa’s history.
South African history and the road to democracy
This is reflected in South African philately, which includes stamps and covers depicting not only the natural beauty of the landscapes, flora and fauna but also its apartheid history and its transition to the democratically elected leadership and the creation of the new rainbow nation.
One of the most important documents in South Africa’s history, Nelson Mandela’s letter from prison which rejected an offer of freedom that would have compromised his principles, was showcased in the Court of Honour. The iconic triangular issues of the Cape of Good Hope were also displayed, together with priceless and valuable collections from all over the world .
Stamps and letters commemorate important events and speak a universal language. Each nation through its stamps gives expression to its uniqueness by depicting its landscapes and symbols which are then showcased worldwide.
Stamps are unique pieces of art which encompass a world full of discovery and insight. Philately has an important role to play in appreciating history.
Stamp collecting enriches and broadens the mind. It was therefore with this aim in mind that the organizers invited schoolchildren from diverse communities to attend the exhibition.
There were commissioners and judges from over 50 countries attending. I was joined by two Israeli judges Yigal Nathaniel and Joel Slutzki. I brought eight award-winning exhibits from Israeli philatelists with me, which were admired by the many visitors who attended.
The opening ceremony of the exhibition was a spectacular event in which local African performers entertained the audience with traditional African music and dance. The keynote speakers were ministers and government officials, who welcomed and encouraged us to explore the beauty of the Cape and the ‘mother city’ Cape Town, with its imposing Table Mountain, magnificent coastline and scenery, as well as its colorful people with their generous smiles, open hearts and welcoming spirit.
On a personal note, as a Jewish South African more than a quarter of a century ago, I displayed my “Tour of Jerusalem” stamp collection at Disa ’79, the last time Cape Town hosted an international exhibition.
I was very fortunate then to receive The Mayor of Jerusalem – Teddy Kollek Award. Little did I realize or imagine that many years later, I would be living in Jerusalem, representing Israel and exhibiting my “Postal History of Jerusalem” collection at the 2022 international exhibition in Cape Town!
We deeply appreciate the South African Organizing Committee for hosting this successful and memorable exhibition.
Thank you; baie dankie (Afrikaans); ndiyabulela kakhulu (Xhosa); ngiyabonga (Zulu); and toda raba (Hebrew)! ■
The writer represents Israel at philatelic exhibitions around the world as a commissioner of the Israel Philatelic Federation.