Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Asylum Seekers Say Celebration Makes Them Feel Welcome

Paseka Menyau
Many in the western world would like to paint Africa as a continent of civil wars, famine and much conflict and instability, but what they should also know is that this is a place where one can find absolute warmth and kindness and that should be more important that the few conflicts in just a few regions of this amazing land.
People who originate from other regions of Africa came together on Heritage Day in Johannesburg to celebrate the warmth of the countries they come from. The theme of the event that took place in the Marice Freeman Recreation Centre Theatre was “We are all Africans, we are all one”.

They performed indigenous dances from the countries they originate from and shared the beautiful colours by means of the various traditional outfits to show that for them the day is more than just about a braai as many South Africans would now like to claim.

The event was organised by the Refugee Aid Organisation, in the aim of making asylum seekers feel appreciated and welcome in South Africa despite their different culture, customs, backgrounds  and beliefs.
Among the groups performing were those from Zimbabwe, Somalia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Africa. Somali asylum seeker Amin Salat said South Africa’s Heritage Day offers him the opportunity to share his culture with fellow Africans. “I feel happy to be part of South Africa, to be experiencing a lot of cultural differences and being in the same room as my fellow Africans celebrating our different cultures and customs,” he explained.

Bawili Toy from the DRC, who has been in South Africa for more than ten years, said the day was fun for her. “I really enjoyed, I had fun it really felt being great being in the same room with fellow Africans just having fun, singing and dancing. I feel at home. South Africa is my home,” she said.
Nozipho Ncube  from the Refugee Aid Organisation is happy that everything went according to plan. “We worked so hard for this function and I am really happy that everything  was perfect, the people were happy, they learned about different cultures and custorms.”

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