Over 25 000 people, draped in the brightest of colours, gathered in Tshwane to take part in this year’s Gauteng Social Cohesion Carnival.
The carnival, which coincided with Heritage Day celebrations, saw people dressed in their traditional attire, fancy dress costumes, choir outfits and uniforms. They mingled with brass bands, drum majorettes and colourful floats measuring up to five meters in height as they paraded the streets of the capital city.
There was also a procession of stilt walkers and Samba dancers who gave carnival-goers a glimpse into the country’s rich and diverse cultures.
Several countries’ embassies such China and Argentina also represented their cultures.
Held under the theme “Celebrating Our Living Heritage: Treasure, The Year of O.R. Tambo”, the carnival is an important vehicle which takes forward the provincial government’s commitment towards nation building and social cohesion, Premier David Makhura who led the celebrations said.
The premier said the province wants to grow the carnival to the size of the Rio carnival.
“Next year we want to attract over 50 000 participants. We want to make sure that schools in the province also become part of the carnival because when young people are involved the celebration will continue for coming generations,” said premier Makhura.
The carnival also created economic opportunities in both tourism and entrepreneurship.
This year’s carnival created more than 3500 work opportunities and benefited 270 000 entrepreneurs who were providing services to the carnival.
The premier said the majority of those who benefited are township business.
“There is an economic impact, increase in tourism, and more entrepreneurs who emerge from such an occasion.”
The premier announced that the provincial government was considering introduction Swahili to schools in the province as more than half of the people in the continent speak it.
“People in the province must know all the 11 African languages. You must also know Swahili because this is Africa. We want to make sure in all our schools in Gauteng one of the things we introduce is Swahili … so that we can talk amongst ourselves.”
The premier also used his address to call for tolerance among the people of Gauteng.
“Let us unite as Africans. Let us make it easy for us to live together.”
Jovial citizens, especially those from other African countries, could not hide their excitement.
“Today is beautiful. We are eating from one plate … I don’t feel like a foreign national,” Orji Adoti told newsmen.
Poet Jessica Mbagana said that Heritage Day is an important reminder of black consciousness.
“Today is one of those days where we need to remind ourselves of who and what we are. We need to have conversations about us and our culture so that we can embrace our diversity to achieve socio-economic transformation.
The day will end with a festival of food, live cultural music, cultural dances and performances from different genres of DJ’s performing on four different stages at the Tshwane Events Centre.