Plettenberg Bay community celebrates their African heritage in defiance of xenophobia
“We wanted people to come together and be united. We have had a traumatic past few weeks in Kwanokuthula,” says resident
Less than a week after dozens of immigrants were forced to leave their homes in Plettenberg Bay, about 100 community members from different nationalities came together to celebrate Heritage Day on Saturday.
The community of Kwanokuthula chose to host the event in the wake of the xenophobic violence in which South Africans went house-to-house searching for foreign nationals. Immigrant-owned shops were shut down, and two homes of immigrants were torched.
On Saturday, groups representing Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa shared traditional food, danced together and enjoyed a variety of music. During the day, each group was given a chance to educate people about their home countries and dishes.
“We wanted people to come together and be united. We have had a traumatic past few weeks in Kwanokuthula where people have been divided and conflicted, but we want to bring back the spirit of Ubuntu to our beautiful garden town,” said resident Asanda Mlamli.
Mlamli said she is Xhosa and her husband is Nigerian. She said she chose to wear traditional clothing from her husband’s home country in a show of support.
Idah Shema from Malawi said, “I’m happy we can finally celebrate this day in public. Over the years we’ve spent the day in our houses but we have always wanted to come out and be with people.”
Shema makes traditional clothes for a living. She has been in South Africa for seven years and said she learnt her current trade two years ago.
Some of the meals prepared included Malawian Mbatata, Nsima and Chambo with rice. The Xhosa tribe made Umngqusho and ulusu, while the group from Ghana brought their famous jollof rice and chicken served with green salad.
Jeffery Rangula, a former Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson, said, “I was embarrassed to think that my community was on a mission to drive immigrants out.”
Rangula has lived in Kwanokuthula for more than 20 years and served the CPF for ten years. “I’m happy to see events like these where everyone is included. I pray that the peace and unity demonstrated at this event stays forever in Kwanokuthula,” said Rangula.
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