By Staff Reporter
SOUTH AFRICANS in the United Kingdom had an enjoyable night on Saturday when they held a 60s/70s soiree in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.
Since this was their first time to come together as a community since the COVID-19 pandemic, they appropriately named the event Van Toeka Af – meaning since the beginning or for a long time or way back, in Afrikaans. They wanted to take their community to the beginning, before COVID, when people were free and enjoyed life to the fullest.
The CEO of Mzanzi Ltd, the organisation that put together this event, Mr Joel Sedumedi, explained that older South Africans pride themselves of being there from long time ago and that this concept is often celebrated with old South African songs, food, dress and dance. The attendees were appropriately dressed in 60s/70s style – spotting big Afros, chequered outfits, platform shoes and big suitcases. The suitcases are a symbol of migration from rural areas to cities when colonialists started gold mines in Johannesburg.
As sign of patriotism, they all stood up singing their beautiful national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika – meaning Lord bless Africa, to kick off the night. Speeches followed the national anthem and one of the speakers, emphasised the need for unity among South Africans in the diaspora. There is need to promote each other’s businesses. Dr Sibert Mandega, Executive Director of Diaspora Insurance, the main sponsor of the event, also highlighted the importance of African communities to work together and to celebrate our culture and lifestyles in the diaspora. Diaspora Insurance supports and collaborates with organisations that promote Africanism in the diaspora. Diaspora Insurance also makes a huge contribution to the African diaspora communities by providing insurance products tailored for this niche market. Sarah Moloi, an author, health care professional, counsellor and pastor, presented her newly released book “A Journey of a Thousand Miles”. This is her autobiography highlighting her search for identity and belonging following trauma, abuse and racial discrimination.
DJ Seun KKP did not disappoint on the night. Soon after the speeches, he started to belt out old classics like Weekend Special by Brenda Fassie & The Big Dudes, Sondela by Ringo and O Nketsang by Rex Rabanye and Amadamara by Freddie Gwala. There was a lot of activity on the dance floor; people were enjoying themselves, forgetting the trauma caused by COVID-19. One American brother invited by his South African friends enjoyed the South African music more than anyone else. He could have walked away with the award for the best moves, if there were awards that night.
The icing on the cake was the quintessential African cuisine that was served midway through the program. It was a beautiful night – van toek af.