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Spring Festival celebrated in South Africa

By Ndumiso Mlilo (Xinhua)

09:13, February 10, 2013

JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of people, many of them Chinese residing in South Africa, thronged to Johannesburg's first China Town for the Lunar New Year (Spring Festival) celebrations on Saturday.

People came from all the provinces of South Africa to celebrate the dawn of the New Year. There were dragon dance, folk singing, martial arts display and lion dance.

The Chinese Association which coordinated the event said the event is meant to promote the Chinese culture.

The chair person of the Chinese Association, Erwin Pon, said, "Today (Saturday) is the New Year's Eve where we say good bye to the dragon and welcome the snake. This is to promote Chinese culture.

"As you see they are Chinese, Europeans and blacks, it's a family event especially in South Africa with the rainbow nation with diverse cultures. It's for the young, old and all races to encourage cultural tolerance."

Pon said lanterns displayed symbolize the taking of the wishes to the skies to the gods. Different Chinese food and artifacts were on display and people were taught about the Chinese, culture and delicacies.

Pon told Xinhua that the celebrations were eventful but the coming year of the snake promises to be peaceful.

Erwin added, "The snake year promises to be peaceful and the year of consolidation. There were a lot of changes during the year of dragon. During the year of the snake, things will be settling down even though they will be some changes here and there."

There were some raffle draws with the winner getting a trip to China.

Pon said those who will win a trip to China will learn a lot in China ad return with a story to tell.

The trip is sponsored by Etihad Airways, the National Association of the United Arab Emirates, which are some of the sponsors of this year's new year celebrations. The proceeds from the raffle sales will be donated to the Chinese old people's home in Johannesburg.

Ishmael Senye, a South African, said he came to the celebrations out of curiosity to learn how they Chinese celebrate their New Year.

Senye said, "This is my first time to attend the Chinese New Year celebrations. I came to see how they celebrate and learn a bit of their culture. We are slowly getting used to the Chinese since we live with them and our government has good relations with them."

Another South African Oscar Nkomo stated that he performs Kungfu every year in the Chinese New Year celebrations. He said he had good relations with the Chinese community in South Africa.

Kevin Fat, whose grandparents come from China, said he is happy to celebrate New Year with other people. Kevin said, "This is an important day for us the Chinese people. This day brings us together like a family. I hope this year will bring lucky and good health to all the people of the world."

He also performed Kungfu at the New year celebrations.

Some people shouted gong-hey-faat-choi as some firecrackers pierced the sky in the evening to celebrate the New Year. The fireworks were done by the Chinese community in South Africa who also lit them in the opening and closing of the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.

The Johannesburg-based Chinese Association, which was formed in 1903, has been holding this annual event for the past 50 years.

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