North and South: How we celebrate with friends

The month of May is finally here. A month spent in celebration both in South Africa and Norway, where friends and family gather to join in on the merrymaking. Get your fine clothing out from the closet and get ready for a month of celebrations.

For Africa Month and Africa Day the PULSE team have prepared several different events, in collaboration with FBF and NMF. The friendship between our two host organisations is as strong as ever, despite the exchange being digital this year. On the 17th of May, the Norwegian Constitution Day, the South members of PULSE will be joining in on NMF’s celebratory livestream with a musical piece, a wonderful display of friendship and collaboration.  
Follow the livestream here : https://fb.me/e/p3Vf9i9wY
It will go live from 07am to 13.pm, and our South Participants will play live at ca 09.45am.

BCB Participants 2012/2013

In addition to this, PULSE have been working hard writing and arranging music for the Field band. This music will be distributed to the bands on the field, with the aim of being performed on Africa Day. All the field bands will be celebrating this day with friends and family throughout their respective regions. Regalia and traditional attires will be the order of the day with traditional music from different cultures.


In Norway, May is also a month packed with events, such as Ascension Day, Constitution Day, Pentecost and Confirmations. Bunads are being cleaned and ironed, ready to be used on the 17th of May, despite large parts of the normal celebrations beings cancelled due to restrictions. That will however not stop most from dressing up nicely and partake in the celebrations from home. Bunad is the national costume of Norway, the cut and colors of the Bunad represents the region you are from.

With so many different celebratory days lined up, there is no shortage of opportunities to go out and have some fun, in a safe manner of course. The PULSE team is also making sure that there are events planned throughout the month, and we hope all of our friends out there will join us.

This week the PULSE team is going through with Virtual Educational Band visits, or VEBV, as it is called in the office.
Since travel is restricted and the North participants are stuck in Norway, organising the band visits virtually allows them to join in, despite the great distance between our two respective countries. It is exciting that these visits are happening, as it will give members of the PULSE team the chance to meet old acquaintances and rekindle the friendship that was built in previous years. It will also give the newest members of the PULSE team, Sofia and Nicholas, a great chance to take part in meeting with the different bands and introduce themselves. Who knows, perhaps new friendships will arise just as old ones are renewed. 

PULSE team, FBF Education team with Dingani Tshabalala during Free state work shop (2020)

During VEBV, the PULSE team will be virtually visiting three bands a day where they will be teaching three different topics. Topics to be taught are music theory, lifeskills, self-care, team dynamics (how to work as a team), “The Challenge of the year” and evaluation. The purpose of these workshops are to upskill the staff members with the correct knowledge of running the bands and making sure that the team dynamics are understood. This is why upskilling is so important, making sure that the bands are running smoothly, while also being a safe haven for everyone is what FBF and PULSE strives for. The bands are not only a place of learning, but also a place to developing oneself in different ways, yet most importantly; it is a place where friendships take root and grows.

Friendship is important, this is why we are

PULSE 20th anniversary logo

Authors: Nicholas Bahrawy and Jacob Mhlapeng.

Pictures 1: Photographer unknown.

Picture 2: PULSE

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PULSE digital team work.

As most have experienced first-hand, the pandemic is forcing us to find new ways of working together. The change from physical contact, whether it be in the office, out in the field or in school, into a digital space has been a challenge. It is not a medium that is suited for all, technological limitations and know-how may present unforeseen challenges that needs to be overcome.

The PULSE project is not exempt from this challenge, especially considering that the exchange is not happening physically. Because of this, new ways of working together have been explored, and I am pleased to say that the PULSE team is now thriving in their new digital office.
Previously the exchange meant that one team would travel to Norway and one team to South Africa, these two teams would have very few meeting points, yet both teams worked for the same project.

Today, in the digital landscape, the PULSE team is working more closely together than ever before. Joint projects with participants from both teams, collaboration and cooperation has nothing but increased since the project went digital. This is of course not without a few bumps along the road, but the amount of growth PULSE has gone through is staggering.
As of now, the North Participants and South Participants are working together on a daily basis, with meetings, phone calls and e-mails going back and forth all day long. At no time previously have the two teams collaborated and grown together as they have now.


Picture by Eva Bortne

It is not only the PULSE team that has seen growth when it comes to collaboration, our two host organisations, FBF and NMF have also been working more closely together, as evident from the Activity Library that was recently published on YouTube.
Another point of cooperation is the Praktikant programme and FeriePULSE, which will take place later this year in Norway. This time the Praktikant programme will be held digitally. Something which is very good news. Instead of cancelling it, due to the pandemic and restrictions. Work has been set in motion to re-create this as a digital event, with North and South participants working closely together to make this happen. By having it held digitally, it will reach out to more participants than previously as distance, travel arrangements and the budgetary costs of hosting a physical event is no longer a hindrance. If all goes accordingly, the FeriePULSE will be held physically in June, given that the Norwegian government allows it, something that all of us are hoping they will.  The amount of individual and team wide growth the PULSE team has seen is something to behold, as digital upskilling has become an everyday part of the job now. Yet, even when the team is working from opposite sides of the world, the collaboration never ceases. Examples of cross team cooperation is amongst others, but not limited to; the alumni survey, workshop contents, social media posts, 20th anniversary material, life skills, e-learning, and many more


Picture by Eva Bortne

Working in a digital space has its ups and downs for sure, and not being able to meet up in person can sometimes weigh on the team as they work together, so in order to keep the PULSE team happy and thriving in a digital landscape, there has been appointed a Digital Wellbeing Officer(DWO). This person, Solvor, is making sure that the team has all the resources they need to work together. The DWO is also in charge of creating a space where the team can meet up and informally chat amongst each other, just like a cantina or break room functions in a physical office. Having an informal meeting space, where chit chat and banter flow loosely is a great thing, and it is really helpful to help alleviate the stress from constantly having to work online. Meeting up, drinking some coffee, tea or cocoa while having a laugh with our colleagues is so invaluable time and does wonders to keep the team connected and growing closer together, despite the distance between us.


Screenshot by Nicholas.

Author : Nicholas Bahrawy

Published: Jacob Mhlapeng

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ACTIVITY LIBRARY PUBLISHED ON YOUTUBE!

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Take me to the channel

The Activity Library is now published on YouTube! Look through the different playlists and find a great variety of content for many different occasions. There are icebreakers to make introductions easier and energizers to keep the group active and engaged. How about learning something new? The Body Percussion playlist provides fun new ways of creating rhythms and beats with your hands or simple tools. Drill instructors may also find videos with examples that they can use during rehearsals.

Use the Activity Library to foster growth both personal and professional. The content on the channel will also grow with time, as new content is created and uploaded. So check back regularly, or subscribe to the channel to be notified when new content is uploaded. Seeing the channel visited and the videos used are the goals of the channel.

We hope that the content available now and in the future will inspire new uses, variety and provide an alternative approach to structuring band rehearsals or workshops. Explore the channel and the different playlists, there is content for everyone to use. It can be mentioned that in light of the global pandemic, special playlists have been created with COVID friendly activities. Such activities can be used in a safe manner, providing both safety for the participants as well as a fun activity they can engage in.

It is a piece of pride for us, to have this channel up and running with the content that has been created over the years. We hope that everyone working with and for bands in the Field Band Foundation and the Norwegian Band Federation can both use the content we present to further the growth between the organisations and the development of their members alike.

Author: Nicholas Bahrawy

NMF and FBF; 20 YEARS OF PARTNERSHIP

Dineo and Nomkhosi: PULSE and BCB alumni

Flamingo View Estate, Kimberly: On 26 March 2021 Norges Musikkorps Forbund and the Field Band Foundation hosted a gathering with its exchange alumni, celebrating the organisations’ 20years of partnership through music and dance. This celebration was a milestone, as it was the first gathering of the alumni with some of the former FBF South Participants. The alumni band entertained the distinguished guest who graced the event with their presence, and it was nothing short of fun.

The festivities of this auspicious event were also to celebrate the alumni and keep contact with them as they have played a vital role in the success and continuity of the partnership. Out of 19 alumni who were invited from the Northern Cape, 16 managed to come and celebrate together with everyone, hailing from all parts of the region. Currently there are 74 alumni across South Africa who have participated in the Bands Crossing Boarders and the PULSE programme.

Nicolette du Plessis(FBF CEO)

The event was filled with fun activities such as ‘Pass the Gift’, whereby all the guests were taking part. Small Giras, https://youtu.be/zzKhGzP6oT4  the Field Band mascot, were shared amongst the guests and the alumni who were present at the event. Dineo Mthimunye, who is an alumni, told everyone about the concept of Gira and how she represents most of the kids in the Field Band Foundation. Nicolette du Plessis, CEO of the Field Band Foundation, spoke highly of the exchange programme and how it was brought to life. She mentioned the positive impact that PULSE and BCB had brought to the members of the Field Band and it has inspired many members to be part of the exchange.

The alumni band entertained the guests, taking them down the Field Band memory lane with songs such as Amavololo and Ubuhle Bendoda, which left everybody clapping, singing, and dancing. Bruce Veldman, who is an alumnus, gave a wonderful speech on how the PULSE programme became a steppingstone in becoming a positive and a vibrant man that he has become. Today, Bruce is a sergeant in the South African Police Band and was one of the top 10 candidates for the Mr South Africa Pageant in 2020.

Bruce Veldman
PULSE and BCB alumni band

Thuli Mpse, the Chairperson of the Field band Foundation, closed the event with a speech thanking everyone who came to the event. Thuli shared her vision on how she would like to expand the field bands to other provinces of South Africa so they can reach all the young people in the country.

Thuli Mpse(FBF Chair person)

Author: Jacob J Mhlapeng

Pictures: Dineo Mthimunye and Jacob J Mhlapeng

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Field Band Foundation Social officer workshop

It is mid-March and the PULSE team is hard at work with the SO workshop and creating new exciting content for the 20th anniversary! 

Jacob Mhlapeng leading the ice breaker.

This week some of the PULSE team are hosting a SO workshop, which is great news. In these trying times, being capable of hosting an event in person and not through a screen is refreshing. Our team has gone to great lengths to make this workshop safe, educational and fun for everyone involved. Providing safety for the participants is one of our highest priorities besides delivering thoughtful high quality content in the workshop. South Africa is currently in-between waves, which means that since the workshop is Covid-compliant, it is allowed to be hosted in person and not digitally. Had it been held in Norway, it would have been fully digital, as the situation there is wave 3, causing most regions to be at red threat levels. PULSE is happy to report that the workshop is both safe and going splendidly for both the participants and hosts.

PULSE video: Social Officers going in side the Sanitizing booth during the workshop.

Letitia and Busisiwe during a life skills planning session

Besides the workshop that is ongoing, the team is actively engaged in creating content for the upcoming anniversary. The new symbol and slogan for 2021 is already in place, so is the kickoff video that was created to highlight the years and years of collaboration and cooperation, which PULSE is proud to be a part of.
Difficulties present themselves in many forms, some that force the team to think outside of the box or perhaps figure out new ways of working together.
Load shedding is a constant disruption to the workflow, as is the distance between the team members, with collaboration being done across many kilometers and borders. For those unfamiliar with the term, load shedding is a planned power outage in a specific area. Is it not remarkable to think that the PULSE team is divided by over 10 000 kilometers at the most, from Senja in northern Norway to Johannesburg.

Distance from Senja in Norway to Johannesburg South Africa

Sofia and Nicholas, PULSEs newest members, have now been a part of the team for a good six weeks, in this time they have been getting to know the rest of the PULSE team and have eagerly taken on work tasks of their own. It will be exciting to see what this year has in store for them. Both of them are working on content that will be a part of the anniversary celebrations. New music is in the works, which is great news. The YouTube channel is undergoing some work and will be made available again soon, with loads of content to be enjoyed, from music and Gira, to games and activities. The Activity Library, which some might be familiar with, will be made available for everyone on the YouTube channel. It features organized playlists that is easily navigated to find the content of choice, be it Covid-compliant activities or entertaining ways to create music. PULSE hopes that this will be an inspiration for our viewers, make use of the library once published and get inspired.

That is not all that is being worked on, so be sure to stay tuned, as content will be published regularly in the weeks and months ahead. On behalf of FBF, NMF and PULSE, join us in celebrating our 20th anniversary of partnership and collaboration

Author: Nicholas Bahrawy

Pictures: Nomkhosi Mnisi

Video: Eva Bortne

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20 years of partnership

‘Strongest Together’

The Field Band Foundation (FBF) and Norges Musikkorps Forbund (NMF) (The Norwegian Band Federation) celebrate 20 years of partnership in 2021. The Norwegian Agency for Exchange Cooperation (Norec) has enabled us to be stronger together through mutual exchange of personnel and sharing of knowledge with a social focus on impact on various levels. We believe we have played an important role to the world with the elements of musicking, lifeskills, social inclusion and bringing people together. Music Matters because it has a unique way of teaching us how to be together in different and better ways, especially in this strange COVID-19 environment.

The 20th anniversary will be a series of events planned in South Africa and Norway. The need for physical distancing following Covid-19 has put a pause on what is considered important socializing activities such as family gatherings, leisure activities, school, as well as work. This has challenged people’s perceptions on how we can stay socially connected. 20 years of partnership has taught us that physical distancing does not necessarily equal social distancing or disconnection. It is our experience that the social connection within the partnership remains strong despite physical separation. We are strongest together.

NMF and FBF 20th anniversary symbol

The anniversary programme consists of the following key-components:

  • A new 20th anniversary symbol has been created and will be used on the organisation’s email signatures for this year. Our slogan for this year is Strongest Together.
  • Alumni surveys, collection of success stories and measurement activities on organisational level will help us to develop and grow as organisations and partners and inspire us to new thinking on defining a road ahead for exchanges and partnerships within the new normal.
  • A kick-off video to launch the 20-year anniversary is shared on both organisation’s social media platforms.
  • 30-second video clips will be shared from former exchange participants with greetings and well-wishes for the 20 years of partnership. This will bring us closer to our alumni and create greater awareness of our celebration.
  • Iconic exchange pictures telling a stories from previous years will be shared online weekly to remind us of the wonderful things that come out of a long-term collaboration.
  • Social media frames and stickers containing the new slogan and symbol will be shared with the members of the organisations and the public to help us celebrate our anniversary.
  • Awareness events on a local level in both countries will happen to share the story about how music and connectivity matters and lead to positive change.
  • An anniversary musical piece will be created and shared with members in both organisations, ensuring a common understanding of how we can be ‘strongest together’ across continents. This will also be especially showcased on commemorative days and events like Africa month, Youth Day, Heritage Day and Norwegian independence days (17th of May)
YouTube link to 20th anniversary celebration kick-off video

Author: Khayalethu Benela

Edited by: Jacob Mhlapeng

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2021 PULSE TEAM

We are proud to announce and introduce the 2021 PULSE team. As of 01.02.2021, the PULSE team has been officially complete and getting ready to take off.
2021 is and will be a unique year for this exchange program. The North and the South participants will be working as one team, carrying out tasks to meet FBF and NMF goals. The other unique factor about this exchange is that, it is not an ordinary exchange whereby North Participants travel to South Africa and South Participants travel to Norway. On this exchange, the participants will be based in their home countries carrying out their duties and communicating extensively through various digital platforms.

2021 PULSE TEAM DURING ZOOM MEETING, Photo by Peter Maluleke


Sofia Mahan, Nicholas Bahrawy, Ingrid Thorstensen, and Solvor Vermeer are this year’s North Participants. Ingrid and Solvor has a wide experience working with PULSE. These two have been involved in the project for several years. Sofia and Nicholas are new participants in the team.

The South Participants team remains unchanged. This team consists of Jacob Mhlapeng, Nomkhosi Mnisi, Khayalethu Benela, and Franqo Ntshole. They are situated at the FBF head office in Johannesburg.

PULSE team possesses a magnificent skill set and a wide range of experience. Amongst the skills sets there are, trained musical therapist, musical competency from international countries such as England and Sweden, experience in teaching at culture schools and bands, experience in digital culture, digital architecture, digital transformation, music performers, music composers/arrangers and critical thinkers among the rest.


It is going to be an extraordinary year, and the PULSE team has hit the ground running

Author : Jacob Mhlapeng

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A blast from the past- the activity library is back!

Way back in 2014-2015, when PULSE 2 was on exchange, the Activity Library was born. It is a video collection of activities and games meant as inspiration for field band staff when planning and executing life skills sessions, band rehearsals and workshops. These videos were filmed during band visits and workshops around South Africa. In the years following PULSE 2 several more videos were added. 12 videos were also made in Norway in the spring and summer of 2020 by the South Participants of PULSE 7 in collaboration with Norges Musikkorps Forbund (NMF). Now, all these videos have been gathered in one place and will be made digitally available to POs and SOs on their devices.

The activities in the Activity Library have been divided into seven categories to make it easier to find an activity that suits your needs. Are you trying to break out of your routine and to do something new when teaching music theory? Do you need a game to make the members listen to each other more? Are the members tired when coming from long school days and need to get some energy? Whatever the scenario, someone else may have already thought of an activity for it!

The categories in the Activity Library are:

  • Warmups
  • Ice breakers
  • Energizers
  • Team builders
  • Ideas for new ways of teaching
  • Dance (new)
  • Creative Corner (new)

During this year it has been challenging to plan rehearsals and to find activities that can safely be done while maintaining proper social distancing to avoid spreading COVID-19. Field band rehearsals should be safe and fun for everyone to participate in, and to ensure this each category has two folders. These will be marked “COVID-19 friendly activities” which can be used now while remembering to safely maintain social distancing, and “other activities” which should be saved for after the pandemic.

PULSE and Field Band Education are proud to relaunch the Activity Library to field band staff with the hopes that this will lead to many great moments in field bands across all of South Africa!

Photos: Ingrid Thorstensen

Written by: Ingrid Thorstensen

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Activity Library er tilbake!

I 2014-2015 da PULSE 2 var på utveksling ble prosjektet Activity Library startet. Det er en videosamling med aktiviteter og leker som er ment til å være til inspirasjon for field band-ansatte når de planlegger og gjennomfører undervisning i livsmestring, korpsøvelser og lengre workshops. Videoene ble filmet under besøk til field bands i hele Sør-Afrika, og i årene som fulgte ble enda flere aktiviteter filmet. I tillegg lagde de sørafrikanske PULSE-deltakerne 12 videoer for Norges Musikkorps Forbund (NMF) i løpet av våren og sommeren 2020. Nå har vi samlet alle disse videoene på et sted, og de vil bli gjort digitalt tilgjengelige for de som jobber i Field Band Foundation som Project Officer (PO) og Social Officer (SO). 

Aktivitetene i Activity Library har blitt delt inn i sju kategorier for å gjøre det enklere å finne fram til en aktivitet etter behov. Prøver du å bryte rutinen og gjøre noe nytt når du underviser i musikkteori? Trenger du en lek som oppfordrer musikantene til å lytte mer til hverandre? Er musikantene trøtte etter en lang skoledag og trenger litt ekstra energi? Noen andre kan ha hatt akkurat samme scenario på sin øvelse og tenkt på en aktivitet som passer situasjonen! 

Kategoriene i Activity Library er som følger:

  • Warmups: Oppvarmingsøvelser
  • Ice breakers: Bli-kjent leker
  • Energizers: Leker for å øke energinivået
  • Team builders: Leker som oppfordrer til samarbeid
  • Ideas for new ways of teaching: Nye ideer til undervisningen
  • Dance (new): Danseaktiviteter
  • Creative Corner (new): Det kreative hjørnet – lag instrumenter, leker eller lær et nytt spill  

Dette året har det vært utfordrende å planlegge gode øvelser og finne aktiviteter og leker som fremdeles kan gjøres med god avstand for å senke risikoen for å spre COVID-19. Målet er at field band-øvelser skal være trygge for alle og gøy å delta på. For å oppnå dette er hver kategori delt inn i to mapper: «COVID-19 friendly activities» for aktiviteter som kan gjøres mens man holder god avstand, og «other activities» som bør spares til etter pandemien er over.

PULSE og Field Band Education er stolte av å nå kunne relansere Activity Library til ansatte i Field Band Foundation med håp om at dette vil føre til mange gode øyeblikk i field bands i hele Sør-Afrika!

Fotografi: Ingrid Thorstensen

Forfatter: Ingrid Thorstensen

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FBF goes Bollywood

 Field Band Foundation has taken it to another level, expanding their musical diversity and creating a new range of music repertoire. PULSE team has been tasked to come up with musical arrangements from Bollywood to celebrate Diwali. Diwali is also called the Festival of Lights which is celebrated for five days by Indians all over the world to honour Rama-Chandra, the seventh avatar (incarnation of the god Vishnu). It is believed that on this day Rama returned to his people after 14 years of exile during which he fought and won a battle against the demons and the demon king, Ravana.

For this task, the team did a research on the elements used when composing Indian and Bollywood music. After the research they had to find ways in which they can transcribe the music to fit the level of the Field band members and to fit the instruments used by Field band as they are brass instruments tuned in G Major.

On this project elements from Aller spiller a project which Khaya was part of in Norway were put into good use by transcribing difficult part of the songs and breaking them down so that they can be played effortlessly by the beginner musicians. Learnings of the Aller spiller project were also visible through the creativeness of making difficult passages of the songs interesting for musicians in state of being challenging.

Dancers during dress rehearsal
Full band during dress rehearsals

Khaya Benela and Franqo Ntshole where at the forefront, leading with creating the arrangements which came out outstandingly. Names of the songs arranged are

Kal Ho Naa Ho: by Loy mendonsa 

Teri Meri: by Himesh Reshammiya

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai: by Jatin­-Lalit

Bole chudiyan: by Jatin-Lalit

When Franqo was asked about his experiences about writing the music he said “Arranging music from a different culture was a very interesting experience because while you are in your comfort zone as an arranger, you are also out of your comfort zone because all the elements are what you have never been exposed to. However, it is very fun because it gives you the opportunity to explore in depth using your artistic knowledge. The nice thing about music is that if you treat it like art you can make anything work or sound beautiful. After all, the most important thing is to connect, be relatable, make a statement and have fun, just to name a few pivotal factors”.

And this is what Khaya said

“The process was not easy as we are used to writing classical and African traditional songs, but it was also fun, and motivating learn more about different cultures and types of music. After writing all the songs and testing them with the members, it felt good as it was sounding as planned. I feel that I have gained a lot of experience even though this is my first time writing Indian music”.

Khaya Benela arranging Teri Meri.

Franqo arranging Bolechudyan

Are there challenges? Of cause! But that is what makes it fun! The challenges are what gives you the opportunity to explore. The challenges you are more likely to encounter is deciphering several elements such as a special traditional or cultural instrument and finding a suitable way to represent it in your arrangements because the actual instrument might be sacred and not accessible to anyone. The advantage of this is that it gives you the opportunity to learn and improve your diversity.

Pics: Nomkhosi Mnisi and Jacob Mhlapeng

Author: Jacob Mhlapeng.

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Greetings from Oslo!

Hello from Oslo! 

As the South Participants are in the office in Johannesburg, we are working from our home offices here in Oslo. 

The days are surely much different than what they used to, but we are all still adjusting to the new normal and our new tasks. We are also happy that our team of 2 has been expanded a little by having Ingrid, a former PULSE participant, on our team once a week. 

Because of the current situation, our tasks have also been adjusted to fit this work situation. Right now we are focusing on four, big tasks where we have managed to create work groups consisting of both FBF and NMF staff. This is the first time we are trying such collaboration, and it is a very interesting way of working. Everyone have such different experiences and knowledge and the collaborations bring much value to the project. 

Our different tasks consist of: 

  1. Project Description 

Where we are focusing on creating an overview for PULSE participants with everything from HR questions to what to expect before, during and after the exchange.

  1. M&E Tools for PULSE

Where we are looking into strengthening our monitoring and evaluation systems both on the PULSE North and South side.

  1. 20th Anniversary Alumni Survey

With the 20th Anniversary of collaboration, there is an Alumni Survey being developed

  1. 20th Anniversary 

2021 will be our anniversary year, which will be celebrated and marked both in Norway and South Africa. 

We are very excited to see where this collaboration will take us.

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