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By Devina Haripersad

Senior Business/Finance journalist

Year of the Dragon: As Chinese community expands in SA, locals embrace new celebrations

As the Chinese diaspora continues to grow South Africans are increasingly immersed in a cultural tapestry.

The Chinese community in South Africa is gearing up to celebrate the Chinese New Year as well as the Spring Festival that will kick off later this month or early in February, based on the Chinese lunar calendar.

 South Africa has more than 300,000 legal citizens and residents of Chinese ancestry, while research conducted in 2010 indicates that there may be more than 500,000 including illegal immigrants.

This number has been growing steadily.

ALSO READ: SA trade with China grows over 35 times

According to migrationpolicy.org, Chinese migrants to Africa are part of the growing political, economic, and sociocultural ties between China — now the world’s second-largest economy — and the poorest and most underdeveloped continent.

Cultural tapestry

As the Chinese diaspora continues to grow South Africans are increasingly immersed in a cultural tapestry that includes various Chinese festivals.

The South African community is particularly intrigued by this year’s Chinese New Year, given that 2024 marks the Year of the Dragon.

It is the fifth of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar.

The dragon is the only mythical creature on this zodiac calendar. For the Chinese community, the year of the dragon symbolises power, strength and good fortune.

As such, 2024 is forecasted to bring about opportunities, changes, and challenges.

Chinese embassy

The Chinese embassy in South Africa recently marked the start of the upcoming celebrations of the Chinese New Year festivities with the welcoming of a new consulate general of China to South Africa in Pan Qingjiang.

Qingjiang announced that as part of his duties, he wished to elevate the South Africa-China relations.

He expressed his gratitude to the South African community for their participation in the Chinese New Year festivals and invited them to do so once again this year.

ALSO READ: Mainlanders sneak a peek through China’s window to Taiwan

 He noted that this was a “golden era” in China-South Africa relations under the guidance of Presidents Xi Jinping and Ramaphosa.

The Nau Hua temple

During the Chinese New Year South Africans from Gauteng tend to make their way to the Nau Hua temple in Pretoria.

The occasion is marked by dances, including a dance with the lions. The temple will host the festival on 11 February, with free entry.

This year, the Fourways Farmers Market will also host a Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival on  24 February, complete with the dragon dances and a fireworks display.

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