Time to say goodbye14/05/2022

It has been ten years since I took office as Trade Commissioner for the Wallonia Export& Investment Agency (AWEX) in Johannesburg, arriving from New Delhi, and previously Houston, Shanghai and Karachi. And now I'm in the starting blocks for the last leg of my rich career: Vietnam with Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) as the final stretch!

I know it's a bit of a cliché to say that those years have flown by, but it's true! It is also often said that the years go fast but the days go slow, but that is NOT true at all in my case. The days also went by very fast and my main regret at work will probably be that I often failed to complete my daily "to do lists". That's because there was so much to do to put little Wallonia on the map of South Africa! I modestly hope that I have succeeded a little, firstly by giving a positive image of my country and my region to the South Africans and secondly by contributing to some Wallonian commercial successes in South Africa and South African investments in Wallonia.

And what is true for work is also true for leisure. Here too, my "to do list" is far from being completed. There is so much to see and do in this beautiful country! It's impossible, even in ten years. But fortunately, it is not too late for me. As the title suggests, this is not a 'farewell' to South Africa, just a 'goodbye'. For I will be returning to South Africa after completing my last professional assignment in Vietnam. So my “to do list” may very well become my “bucket list”! Indeed, my wife and I own a property in Johannesburg, so we will spend some time here after we retire.

Catherine Bauwens, a bright young woman, will take over from me at the office. She will arrive from Istanbul in August 2022, accompanied by her husband and their two children aged 11 and 13. They were here a few days ago on a scouting trip. We spent time in the office going through files and getting acquainted with the local staff, I introduced her to some of the most important people in my network and they made their first discoveries of the city. I have no doubt that she will do a good job here, supported by the AWEX team in Joburg, and by the whole Belgian diplomatic and economic network. All the best to you, Catherine! Enjoy South Africa :-)