18 October 2004
Stellenbosch flautist Carina Bruwer arrived back in Cape Town today after on Friday becoming the first person to swim around both the Southern-most and Northern-most ends of Africa when she rounded Ras Angela in Tunisia in a marathon swim ending in Sport Nautique, Bizerte, after performing for Presidents Mbeki and Ben Ali and many ministers and dignitaries earlier the week .
Carina Bruwer – concert flautist and long distance open water swimmer – realised a long-standing dream on Friday 15 October when she rounded the northern-most tip of Africa near Bizerte in Tunisia. She swam the nearly 16 kilometers from Ras Angela to Sport Nautique in 3 hours 50 minutes in fair conditions with a water temperature of about 18 degrees. She was accompanied by a local boatsman and Mr. Mohammed Mzah – vice president of Tunis Air. In the process Carina became the first person to round both the Southernmost point of Africa at Cape Agulhas and the Northernmost point at Ras Angela.
Carina and three other musicians from Soweto (“Thulas and Friends”) left for Tunisia on Saturday 9 October and performed for the Presidents of Tunisia and South Africa and other dignitaries, celebrating South African Arts & Culture in Tunisia. In performances and concerts Carina performed solo Classical music, and joined the band in performing traditional South African Jazz. The Tunisian public was extremely taken by the energy of the performance and the cultural symbol which it carried.
Carina did the marathon swim and two musical concerts as a guest of the Tunisian Government on the invitation of the Tunisian Ambassador to South Africa, HE Ambassador Ali Goutali. Her efforts were part of three distinct celebrations that happened to coincide this week: The first was President Mbeki’s inaugural State Visit to Tunisia, the second was an ongoing twinning project between the cities of Cape Town and Bizerte, and the third was the annual 15th of October “Evacuation Day” celebrations in Bizerte – commemorating the day when the last French Colonial troops left the city of Bizerte. Carina’s southern-most Africa swim at Cape Agulhas was done on South African Freedom Day, 27 April.
She swam on Friday in honour if the two State Presidents, for peace on the continent and to strengthen relationships between Tunisia and South Africa. She said “Tunisia is an amazing cosmopolitan country and I hope that more South Africans will come to explore it. The people are extremely friendly and helpful, and the feeling of the area is very similar to that of the Western Cape – where I come from. I believe that we in South Africa can hold hands with Tunisian people and businesses – as the very successful trade delegation this week has proven – and in the process further the development of pan-African business and trade.”
Approaching the end of the marathon swim at Bizerte port, Carina was unexpectedly met by a flotilla of paddle-skiers that accompanied her on the last kilometer of what was the first official swim of its kind in Tunisia. After a quick shower the intrepid swimmer attended a ceremony in her honour led by the mayor of Bizerte, Mr Moncef Ben-Gardia. The Tunisian Swimming Federation announced after the swim that they will make this an annual event in which open water swimmers from all over the world can take part. The event will be named after Carina. The Mayor also bestowed on her the Honorary Citizenship of Bizerte.
Carina admitted that she was tired but joked “…but then I happen to have been tired when I started. The week’s traveling and performance schedule was very congested and had been preceded by two difficult days in Cairo. I am however very pleased and think that when the realisation sinks in it will all be very satisfying. At least this time I avoided the storm I swam into when I rounded Agulhas, but I missed my support crew back home. The people here speak mainly French and Arabic, and communication was a problem”. She is planning three other swims on the African continent but said that it was “a little soon to say” where and when these would take place