10 October 2018 | Story UFS | Photo Moeketsi Mogotsi
International Cultural Diversity Festival builds bridges
Global cuisines galore at the International Cultural Diversity Festival

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Celebrating our heritage allows us to learn about each other's cultures and traditions, and it is an activity that brings people together. "Heritage is an important element of our everyday lives that constantly reminds us of who we are and how far we have come," says Bonolo Makhalemele, International Cultural Diversity Festival organising team leader.

Cultivating intercultural connectivity

The Bloemfontein Campus was a hive of festivities as the community received cultural education from all over the world while being serenaded with diverse music, indulging in delicious cuisines, and dressed in ethic regalia at the festival hosted by the University of the Free State's (UFS) Office for International Affairs. Reinforcing unity and diversity formed the foundation of the theme: Building bridges in heritage - Connecting local and international cultures. Although it was a first for the UFS, the festival is an annual highlight on many countries' calendars, with the university intending to follow suit.

Makhalemele firmly believes that even in our uniqueness, there are immense similarities which we share and can celebrate. "Not only do we build bridges in celebrating our heritage, but we foster reconciliation, promote unity in diversity, and breathe life as well as meaning into our identities through the whole process." 

African artistic fashion

Busisiwe Ntsele, representing the House of Diva (HOD) which manufactures tailor-made Africa-inspired clothes for ladies of all sizes, manned one of the stalls at the festival. "We call it the House of Diva because it gives you the magical feeling of being an African woman," she said. Ntsele also shared the story of her cultural background, being born to South African parents as a child of the diaspora in the Kingdom of the Swati and growing up to marry a partner from Lesotho.

The Cultural Festival proved to be a successful infusion of food, fashion, dance, music, as well as arts and crafts from countries such as Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Swaziland, Cameroon, Kenya, Namibia, Malawi, Tanzania, Spain, Uganda, Argentina, Ghana, Ethiopia, China, Nigeria, Cuba, Bangladesh, India, Taiwan, Netherlands, Germany, the United States of America, Libya, Congo, Botswana, Mozambique, Ireland, Israel, Ivory Coast, Korea, France, Sudan, Angola, New Zealand, and Afghanistan.

Students, staff members, and the community had the opportunity to become interculturally competent, which is an essential skill within a transforming environment such as the university. 

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