By CHRIS GRAEME
DANCING FROM the Surialanga Dance Company and dramatised poetry from Rite 2 Speak provided colourful entertainment at this year’s South Africa Nation Day celebrations in Lisbon.
The event last week at the Universidade Nova also included traditional South African cuisine which had a surprisingly hot and spicy flavour.
“These dishes are in our blood, they were handed down to my mother from her mother and then to me,” said Sabo Telle, the Attaché for the consular section at the South African Embassy, who, together with Latani Makwanela, the Embassy’s Head of Management, prepared several tasty dishes under the banner of Tastes of South Africa.
These included a green broccoli-type vegetable called Morego, traditional South African dumplings and a spicy vegetable and bean stew called Chakalaka, all washed down with excellent dry South African wines.
The party was attended by around 500 invited guests that included Portuguese fashion designer Fátima Lopes, well-known South African-Portuguese businessman Horácio Roque, and other personal friends of the South African Ambassador to Portugal, Thandiwe Profit-McLean.
The Nation Day, celebrated on November 24, which aims to celebrate the multicultural richness and diversity of the South African nation, also paid tribute to perhaps South Africa’s most famous black singer Miriam Makeba (1932-2008), who embodied the struggle for equal rights in South Africa during the Apartheid years of the 1960s and 1970s and became internationally famous as a blues, jazz and world music singer. She collapsed back stage and died suddenly earlier this month after a concert while receiving a standing ovation.
A riot of music, colour and dance was provided by the Surialanga Dance Company which specialises in a fusion of Indian and Zulu dances and was created in 1994. It performed at the presidential swearing in ceremonies of Nelson Mandela (1994) and Thabo Mbeki (1999).
Particularly interesting was the theme of womanhood, belonging, home, roots, soil and multiculturalism from a group of powerful women poets, Rite 2 Speak, who voiced their experiences and the experiences of South African black and white women of all classes, races and tribes through harmony singing, action and word.
Ambassador Thandiwe Profit-McLean, who joined in with the dancing at the end of the evening’s entertainment, said: “The South African Nation Day reinforces the idea that anyone has the right to freedom of expression, and that everyone has the right to use their language and participate in the cultural life of their choice.”
She concluded by saying that dance and music had the ability of uniting and bringing together all ethnic, social and cultural groups.
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