As freshly minted US ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks is warming to her new position – which included a Shabbat dinner with 2007 Rugby World Cup winning captain, John Smit, who she refers to as one of her “oldest friends”.
Marks made a public appearance this week at the US consulate in Sandton and immediately turned on the charm, showing off her multilingualism by conversing in isiXhosa and Afrikaans.
Marks was sworn in as ambassador last month after a lengthy confirmation process in the US Senate.
She put the delay down to the fact that over the past 15 years she visited 110 countries on business which led to a protracted vetting process.
On Friday, she shared on her Instagram account a photo of her and Smit, captioned: My first Shabbat dinner in South Africa with one of my oldest friends from Wits, and… rugby champ John Smit!
Given the lifting mood rugby has had in the country over the past week or so – with the Springboks now world champions – and a trophy tour that saw city streets lined with tens of thousands of enthusiastic fans – a meet up with one of her “oldest friends” – and a former Bok captain at that – may be seen in some quarters as a good omen as she begins her tenure in the position.
At Wednesday’s briefing, Marks described South Africa as “the democratic and economic leader of the world’s fastest growing continent”, saying the US government “at all levels” are positive about that country’s relationship with South Africa and expanding trade, business and investment opportunities is a priority for the [President Donald] Trump Administration.