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South Africa in the spotlight

Yesterday was dominated by activities involving South Africa at the World Money Fair in Berlin. That is fitting because the nation that hosts the World Cup soccer matches this summer is the guest of honor at this year's show.

In the morning, mint directors were taken to the Berlin Mint for the striking of the first of 600 2010 South African Krugerrands with the Berlin Mint's bear mintmark. The bear is also the symbol of the city and you see it in many places around the city itself.

Doing the honors was the ambassador of South Africa to Germany.

In the evening, the ambassador hosted a reception at the South African embassy for the numismatic group. He called coins the silent ambassadors of countries, transmitters of history and culture and silent witnesses of our times.

Guests at the embassy were also treated to a 20-minute dance done by Tchekpo Dan Agbetou. He is originally from Benin, was educated internationally and now runs a dance school in Bielefeld, Germany, where students learn traditional African dances as well as modern dances including Old School and New Style Hip Hop.

The dance was followed by a contest among a few guests who admitted that they did not know what a traditional trumpet was that was used to make a sound like an elephant. I did not catch its name, but the short contest had the guest try to make a sound. Some could. Some could not. After the audience clapped for each guest, reducing the field to four, a second round was held in which Albert Beck, founder of the World Money Fair, was declared the winner, the prize being a small gold coin.

Between the two events, the show was set up. Today the show opens and the real work begins.