To celebrate its role as host of an exclusive geopolitical club, the seaside city of Durban is having a beach party.
There will be Chinese and Russian DJs, beach volleyball, a sand-sculpting contest and even a performance by legendary jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela — an odd way to boost support for an annual summit where currency swaps and a new development bank will top the agenda.
South Africa, the newest entrant to the BRICS group of emerging economies — joining Brazil, Russia, India and China — is "the most enthusiastic member" of an increasingly important club, said Martyn Davies, CEO of Frontier Advisory, a Johannesburg-based consultancy.
While BRICS started as an economic bloc with China at the helm, it has been transformed into a geopolitical institution representing the developing world, as well as a growing political force.
The leaders' summit in Durban next week will be attended by the new Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is on his first overseas tour since taking over leadership of the country. Joining him will be Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Vladimir Putin of Russia, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
(Read More: Crumbling BRICs: Why You're Better Off Elsewhere )
The acronymic grouping has changed dramatically since "BRIC" was first coined by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill in 2001, as a catchy way to describe emerging markets.
BRICS, in positioning itself as a rival to the G8, has become a club that many developing countries would like to join. Nigeria, Indonesia and Turkey have all been touted as potential members, while Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi this week suggested the grouping be expanded to "E-BRICS."
It is also becoming an alternative force to Western powers on political and security issues. In a message passed by a senior adviser this week, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad asked for intervention by the BRICS nations "to stop the violence in his country and encourage the opening of a dialogue."
President Xi, in an interview with journalists from BRICS countries, said that emerging economies "have become an important force for world peace," and have played a key role in addressing the international financial crisis.
"The global economic governance system must reflect the profound changes in the global economic landscape, and the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries should be increased," he is quoted as saying.