News / Africa

    Johannesburg Celebrates Chinese New Year

    The head of the dragon used by the Chung Wah Dance Troupe. The dragon represents good luck and prosperity, February 2, 2013 (Peter Cox/VOA).
    The head of the dragon used by the Chung Wah Dance Troupe. The dragon represents good luck and prosperity, February 2, 2013 (Peter Cox/VOA).
    In downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, the Chinese New Year came in, as it usually does, with a smattering of fireworks, visits from the dragon and the lion, and traditional music and food.

    Johannesburg's old Chinatown was alive once more, as its century-old Chinese population kicked off the New Year.

    As the Chinese calendar enters the year of the Snake, it means a year of relative calm after a year of great change.

    Erwin Pon is the chair of the Chinese Association, which puts on the New Year Festival in Old Chinatown.  "The Year of the Snake now, they believe, it's a bit more calmer than the Dragon," he said. "It's a time for consolidation, but they say it won't be so much tumultuous as the previous year."

    A martial arts demonstration at Saturday's Chinese New Year festivities in downtown Johannesburg. The first Chinese immigrants in Johannesburg starting coming around 1900, February 2, 2013 (Peter Cox/VOA).A martial arts demonstration at Saturday's Chinese New Year festivities in downtown Johannesburg. The first Chinese immigrants in Johannesburg starting coming around 1900, February 2, 2013 (Peter Cox/VOA).
    x
    A martial arts demonstration at Saturday's Chinese New Year festivities in downtown Johannesburg. The first Chinese immigrants in Johannesburg starting coming around 1900, February 2, 2013 (Peter Cox/VOA).
    A martial arts demonstration at Saturday's Chinese New Year festivities in downtown Johannesburg. The first Chinese immigrants in Johannesburg starting coming around 1900, February 2, 2013 (Peter Cox/VOA).
    On the streets, people were grabbing food from stands, and watching the performances on stage and the exploding fireworks above.

    Martin Sam and his sister Elaine, third generation South Africans, watched the festivities from a calm spot up the street. "It's a lovely cultural event for South Africa.  The local community is really small.  We all come out just this once a year and congregate and just see in the New Year.  It's always nice for us to come out, at least on occasions like this, and sort of like immerse ourselves back in the culture, so to speak," he noted.

    Up the road, Andrea Tong, a member of the Chung Wah Dance Troupe, prepared to head back through the streets carrying part of a lion's tail. "It's a Chinese lion dance.  We did the dragon dance earlier, so now we are doing the Chinese lion dance," he said. "It's basically to bring good luck to the businesses around here so they can get good business, good fortune."

    A third generation South African, Tong says there have been obvious changes - while the Old Chinatown New Year has grown, many others have sprouted up. "We've got so many other Chinese communities around Johannesburg.  Cyrildene is an entirely different one," he stated.

    Cyrildene is the center of the newest Chinese immigrants in Johannesburg.  While there are no solid statistics tracking the Chinese population in South Africa, it is clear that it has grown dramatically in the last decade. An estimated 20,000 ethnic Chinese lived here in the early 1990s.  Today, that number is estimated at 350,000.

    Erwin Pon's family has been in Johannesburg for more than a century.  While these early immigrants and their descendants assimilated to South African culture, the new wave of Chinese immigrants is bringing its own culture and lifestyles, which Pon says is both good and bad.

    "In some instances, I'll be honest, it has been a bit detrimental, negative, because some of the guys that come through don't always adhere to the normal laws which we've been brought up to, and taught to adhere to.  So you will find a lot of new guys coming through here, smuggling abalone, drugs, counterfeit goods, whatever it is," Pon explained. "And some of the locals I know personally, they feel offended that suddenly now the Chinese brush has been painted across everyone and just saying, 'You Chinese are smuggling rhino horn, or abalone, or whatever it is.'  Whereas, a lot of the local Chinese have worked hard and they've been here for many generations. They've worked hard to build up a name, obey the law.   A lot of them are successful people - lawyers and accountants."

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora