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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More