Cultural dances during SOPA affirms the province’s diversity

Premier lauded for recognising different cultural groups, symbolising inclusivity and respect

Mbombela – Dance groups from various cultures in Mpumalanga have praised the Office of the Premier for promoting unity and diversity at the 6th State of the Province Address (SOPA) in Mbombela.

The vibrant performers enthusiastically greeted Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane at the entrance of the Provincial Legislature on Friday. She was there to update the citizens and provide insights into the future plans of the Mpumalanga Provincial Government.

It was unanimously acknowledged by the different cultural groups that they have a crucial impact on the ongoing progress of the province, particularly during major events like the SOPA.

The groups included various language groups, ethnicities and races. The languages represented were Siswati, Ndebele, Sepulana, English and Afrikaans.

Siboniso Mbonani, representing Ithol’embovu Cultural Group from Volkrust, said they were grateful to be included in Friday’s programme.

“Being invited to platforms of this magnitude is helpful to the work we do because our main aim is to keep children away from drug and alcohol abuse. We believe that the Premier took  that into cognisance when she allowed us to participate as performers who have been invited to the SOPA. This sets a great example for other youngsters who need to tap into their talents and improve their lives,” said  Mbonani.

Ithol’embovu, which also performs at various events including weddings and cultural festivals, consists of 26 members, some of whom could not make it because they are still at school.

Betty Dlou, leader of Zithuthukiseni Bavumi, an all-female Ndebele cultural dance group based in Kwamhlanga, said she was happy to see women taking their culture seriously.

“As the Premier spoke about women empowerment, we represent the implementation of that vision. There is no empowerment without culture, and for that reason we are encouraging other women to stand up and motivate their children to play a role in preserving the ways of our ancestors.

“We feel important, especially in an environment where you meet other cultural groups. The future of our grandchildren looks intact, and for that reason we will always be grateful to Premier Mtshweni-Tsipane,” said Dlou.

Tanya Edwards-Smith, from Rhythm Image Dance Studio in Mbombela, said the diversity displayed was breathtaking.

“What a beautiful event! Everyone has been given an opportunity to demonstrate their dancing skills. There are drums over there, and we have lots of Afrikaner and English songs that we are dancing to. The diversity is exhilarating. It truly shows that we are a rainbow nation. It brings lots of colour and lots of vibe. We are also encouraged that there has been lots of positive stuff coming out of the Premier’s speech for our province,” she said.

Ossie Moreku, leader of Moletele Cultural Group from Bushbuckridge, called upon other elderly women to follow in their footsteps.

“We are pleased that we have young women who have become part of this amazing group led by elderly women. We have been doing this for more than 30 years and we are still going strong. It is not the first time that we grace this event. Every year it gets better and our hearts are filled with joy from the recognition we always receive from the Office of the Premier,” said Moreku.

Gert Sibande Indian Dance Group representative Jenny Moodley echoed the sentiments of the other groups, stating that unity was key to holding the province together.

“The atmosphere clearly demonstrates that we are all living in harmony, regardless of race and cultural persuasion. Events like this are a mirror of the kind of province we live in. The Premier is definitely a woman of her words. We are here because she made it possible, and I’m happy many women are well represented,” said Moodley.


Key Takeaways On Significance of Cultural Diversity

 Together, the members of the groups highlighted several key ways in which their representation at the SOPA was significant.

Symbolic Recognition: Recognising different cultural groups at SOPA symbolises inclusivity and respect. This illustrates the government’s acknowledgment of the varied cultural composition of the province and its dedication to serving all citizens impartially.

Platform for Expression: This SOPA event offers a platform for representatives from diverse cultural groups to have their voices heard and perspectives considered in government decision-making.

Celebrating Heritage: The event’s cultural richness is enhanced by the traditional performances, attire, and displays brought by various cultural groups. It contributes to the festive ambiance and serves as a reminder of the province’s distinct cultural heritage.

Promoting Unity and Social Cohesion: The inclusion of various cultural groups at a government event fosters a sense of unity and social cohesion, demonstrating the government’s appreciation for the province’s diverse cultures and encouraging citizens to embrace this diversity.

While cultural representation is significant, the SOPA primarily emphasises service delivery and government accountability to its citizens.

The significance of balancing inclusivity with efficiency was highlighted by Premier Mtshweni-Tsipane.

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