Despite a no-show by the Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, residents continued to celebrate Africa Day in Philippi on Wednesday May 25.
Different artists kept the audience going until the message came through just after 3pm that the minister would not be attending the event.
Ward 80 councillor Thembinkosi Pupa was disappointed but commended Philippi residents for being tolerant about it.
“We mobilised people to listen to our minister but he decided not to come. People had been here since 9am and had no food. They are angry and most are seniors who have diabetes AND did not eat,” said Mr Pupa who also called on people of his ward to live in peace with those from other parts of the country.
The celebrations continued without the minister and although they had mixed feelings about the day, people who spoke to Vukani agreed that Africa Day should be marked.
For many, it is a day that diverse African cultures are celebrated. To some it is a day to celebrate heritage. Some said the day should reflect true Africanism by ending discrimination against each other.
Zusakhe Ginya said the day is important, especially for young people who need to celebrate it and learn about the different cultures.
“This is a day to be happy and celebrate. But most importantly we celebrate our heritage. We need to celebrate cultures and customs and show it to young people. Let us be proud of the day,” she said.
Another resident, Themba Lungi, said it is a day to remind people of where they come from. “It should relive our past. We need to learn from each other’s heritage and cultures,” he said.
But resident Fezeka Vakele criticised leaders and said there was no need for celebrations when the country is “on fire”.
Ms Vakele said leaders should focus more on efforts to build the country. “This is a waste of time and money. There are more pressing issues than celebrating Africa Day. Students are up in arms, communities burning and torching schools up in the north but we are busy with this non issue,” she said.
She said there should be a concerted effort to economically empower women. “I feel women are neglected in the country. There is more talk than practically empowering women. Without women, we should know that this country would be nothing,” she said.
She urged young to stop being used to fight political battles of the old days but to create their own legacy.
She said the days of celebrations are outdated and young people must learn to educate themselves.
The celebrations ended after people had their meals.