A programme of unique cultural events has been announced for the first South African Gathering, which is due to take place in Wexford from August 31 to September 1.
According to organiser’s the term ‘Saffa’ is a colloquial term for Southern African Expats, so Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique would also be in the mix.
Commenting on the upcoming event Bettie Marie Burger-Smit as ‘Saffa’ herself, said, “The events are open to all and the idea is that it’s a bit of fun competitiveness between Staffa’s and Irish, for example we kick off the celebrations with the group Moribo Wa Afrika who are an African traditional dance group and the Vicky Furness School of Irish dance; this will be a demonstrating and mix of two different cultures traditional dance.” This event takes place Selskar Square in Wexford town at noon on Saturday, August 31.
The dance showdown will be followed with Saffa and Irish Craft and food stalls, live entertainment, traditional sports events such as sack races, three legged races, Cook Offs and a day of festivities from 2pm at the Wexford Wanderer’s Rugby Club, with a highlight to include ‘Potjie Kos’ V ‘Irish Stew’ tastings, and a ‘Braai’ which is Afrikaans for barbecue. The traditions around a braai are considerably different from a barbecue. However according to Bettie Marie the celebration of good food is very similar and there will also be some South African beverages to be enjoyed. The evening will end with music and a whole fair of Saffa delicacies and everyone is welcome to join in the fun.
The Sunday, 1 September will see all manner of light hearted sporting events from a Saffa vs Irish 20:20 cricket match, Touch rugby and soccer ending in a game of ‘Serious Golden Oldies’ rugby. Food, crafts and market stalls and entertainment for the whole family will keep the audience amused.
Commenting on the number of people registered for the events Bettie Marie said, We have a crowd coming over from South Africa for this gathering plus many people around the country who have been living here from one to twenty five years from South Africa are coming along and have expressed how delighted they are to celebrate their culture with Ireland. According to the last census, 10% of Irish Population is now of Non Irish nationalities, and most Southern Africans have put aside the bad weather, and embraced Ireland as their new home with basic core values at the heart of why they feel at home here, including myself.
This Gathering event is a celebration of all the unique links – it’s not only a Gathering of people, but of acknowledging the global phenomenon that is the Immigrant. Irish people more than any other nation understand the mechanics of the Emigrant Tale, the sense of loss, and re-rooting and settling on foreign shores more than any other nation in the world. It just felt right that we should have little Gathering to share our own experiences and culture with our adopted land.”
A number of Wexford retail outlets and Wexford chamber members are offering the South African visitors at 10% discount along with a number of local attractions are offering free entry to anyone producing their passport over the weekend including Loftus Hall, the Dunbrody Famine Ship and the Emigrant Trail.
see http://www.visitwexford.ie for further details