A multitude of people was gathered at UJ's International Festival on the 20th of October 2017. Photo by Gaby Ndongo.

UJ International Festival: Different Racial And Ethnic Groups Together Making The World A Beautiful Place

By Thando Mgobhozi & Teboho Fumbeza

The UJ APK’s fountain has hosted many events before – but during the International Festival, it felt the overwhelming heat. Not only did the enthralling performers danced onto the fountain until their ankles nearly went wobbling, the cheering and thrilling screams of jubilation from the crowd brought a cheerful and spine-tingling feeling even in some of UJ’s dullest offices.

Different Cultures

The world is a big place, not even one-third of Africa can be walked by foot for one to learn different cultures.

UJ’s Festival, which was held on the 20th of October 2017, made it nevertheless possible to walk around Africa and to other oversea countries by foot, as it infused a different vibe with countries such as Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Malawi, Swaziland, Lesotho, South Africa, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and China showcasing their budding heritage.


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“It was a different experience for me because I used to study in UKZN [University of Kwa-Zulu Natal], where we used to just celebrate Zulu people, so seeing so many cultures together at UJ is humbling,” said a second-year student at UJ who is studying Education, Nomcebo Magagula.

“The event is really interesting because we never get to visit all these countries; but since the event came to UJ, we get a glimpse of different cultures and taste different foods,” said a crowd member in the festival, Boitumelo Mogale.

In South Africa, “We have Xhibhelane for the Tsonga people and is worn by women mostly but also in contemporary tradition men also now wear Xhibhelane and perform Tshina (a Tsonga dance),” said a stall presenter at the Festival from South Africa, Katlego Ntuli.

“We also have the head wrap known as a doek. It is commonly worn by South African women with different kinds of beads; some for complimenting a Zulu skirt around the waist, and others are Zulu head beads . . . meant to be worn by maiden girls who are not yet married, while isiXholo is a hat worn by married Zulu women,” Ntuli explained.

Some Nourishment

The myth that Africa is the darkest continent withered by poverty is a pure contraction from the food stalls that were set up during the Festival.

The most prominently seen food elements were yams, starches like rice, pap and couscous, morogo (spinach) prepared in different ways, peanuts in the dishes, cow heels and offal.

“[In Malawi], we have Lusangwa: a mixture of potatoes and peanuts which ensures that you get all nutrients in your meal. We also have our traditional food eaten on a daily basis called lusima, which is commonly known as pap.

We prepare it differently by adding peanut butter, pumpkin leaves as well as some peanuts to add flavour and to make it more enjoyable,” a Malawian representative at the Festival, told The Open Journal.

Some of the girls who were representing Swaziland mentioned a popular food found in the deep territory of King Mswati III.

“In our food, we had pumpkin which is called litsanga in Swati; we also have ligusha, which is a vegetable known as spinach. When we cook this vegetable [ligusha], we mix it with peanuts and cream to make it tastier.”

Most Dramatic Moments in the Festival

  1. Queer Wedding

The festival also included an LGBTI wedding event that people went astatic over. The crowd started dancing and singing along to a Brenda Fassie classic wedding song called Vul’indlela.

Everyone seemed to be excited about the wedding as they all gathered around to witness this rare, yet important occasion.

In the beginning, the wedding was scheduled to be a heterosexual wedding and then later turned out to be a same-sex wedding. This was done over a dramatic scene in which a guy called Halala disapproved the wedding and then he married the groom whose name is Dumisani.

  1. Chinese Culture

The Chinese culture, which is practiced in thousands of kilometres away from South Africa, was beholden with naked eyes of unfolding excitement during the International Festival.

Tai Chi and WuShu were performed.  WuShu is a form of martial arts but is considerably faster than Tai Chi. It is used for self-defence and makes use of the body as well as weapons such as swords, which come in different lengths.

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