South Africa: Final Word on World Refugee Day - Wonderful Commemorations in Limpopo
02 July 2015

Traditional musicians and dancers from XIgubu Xa Moya. (Bertha Chiguvare/ Jesuit Refugee Service)
It was a great honour that the event was graced by renowned delegates such as the King of Venda, King Mphephu Ramabulana; the MEC for the Department of Health delegated by the Premier of Limpopo, Honourable C.S Mathabatha; the Mayors of Makhado; Thulamela; Musina Municipalities as well as the Executive Mayor of Vhembe District Municipality.

The 20th of June marks the day on which World Refugee Day is celebrated. In Limpopo the event was organised by JRS and UNHCR together with support from other Inter-Agency Working Group Forum members such as Lawyers for Human Rights and Musina Legal Advice Office. The day was celebrated at Thohoyandou indoor sports centre by more than 400 participants under the theme “With COURAGE let us combine; to celebrate ordinary people through extra-ordinary times“. 


The event was graced by people from different communities: the Zimbabweans, Indians, Ethiopians, Nigerians, Chinese, Pakistanis and local South Africans. It was a great honour that the event was graced by renowned delegates such as the King of Venda, King Mphephu Ramabulana; the MEC for the Department of Health delegated by the Premier of Limpopo, Honourable C.S Mathabatha; the Mayors of Makhado; Thulamela; Musina Municipalities as well as the Executive Mayor of Vhembe District Municipality. Amongst the dignitaries were representatives of various organisations who fully support the plight of the refugee in South Africa and Africa; Lawyers for Human Rights, Future Families and JCI Limpopo Chamber. These organisations work tirelessly to advocate, protect, accompany, and serve the refugees that flock to South Africa through the Beit bridge border post on a daily basis.


As the theme suggests, refugees apart from being human beings, who need their rights protected, are ordinary people who are living through extra-ordinary times; communities were urged to be courageous, combine and work together in order to protect this population of concern. 
The day started with some entertainment from sweet melodious gospel music from a local artist who relevantly sang his songs of praise and worship that kept most invited guests and the audience on their feet.


The purpose of the day was presented by the representative from UNHCR, Mr. Tobias Hlambelo, and his main emphasis was on the importance of receiving and treating refugees as people who are from one family just like the rest of the native South Africans. Hlambelo even went to the extent of quoting the bible and reminded people to love one another as was commanded by the Lord Jesus which is one of the strongest beliefs that the Jesuits abide by.


A representative from the Somali community, Suleiman, gave their experiences as refugees in South Africa. He emphasised on the importance of Africa to unite as one and to treat each other as brothers and sisters.


Ms Bertha Chiguvare, on behalf of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS),  the Project Director for Makhado, started by briefing on the mandate of JRS and the relevance of the event. Bertha acknowledged the government of South Africa for its stance in accommodating refugees and asylum seekers as well as implementing international Conventions and local Refugee Laws aimed at protecting the rights of vulnerable people in the country. She however concluded her speech by elaborating on the theme and requested the community to uphold the spirit of “Ubuntu”, mutual respect and peaceful coexistence as they receive their brothers and sisters from other nationalities.


King Mphephu Ramabulana showed a lot of support for refugees. He strongly denounced xenophobia which had taken a toll on South Africa. He described the act as barbaric and also emphasised that we are all Africans and should treat each other with respect and love. Just the mere presence of the king made the event more special and this gave refugees the comfort they needed from local authorities.


After the king had given the closing remarks, there was entertainment from the children of Tondalushaka Drop-in Centre area in Makhado, the traditional drum beating group and the Musina senior citizens choir wrapped up the day with lovely entertainment.







Press Contact Information
Gushwell F. Brooks
gushwell.brooks@jrs.net
+27 11 618 3404