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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid