Celebration of South Africa a show of togetherness, chamber says

An inaugural festival celebrating the culture of South Africa on the Isle of Man was a display of togetherness, the chairman of a business group has said.

Traditional food and music were on show, and produce from the country could be bought at the Nunnery in Douglas on Saturday.

Chairman of the South African Chamber of Commerce Sharon Constancon said it had been a “magic” event.

The 2021 census showed about 1,200 people from the country on the island.

Ms Constancon said it was “very rewarding” to see such a “strong community” of South Africans on the island, employed in a range of industries ranging from farming to finance.

She said historically people from the country had faced “so many difficult circumstances” they sometimes wanted to leave their homeland behind, but “as the decades go by they are creating communities” around the world.

The inaugural event was a collaboration between events company Isle Settle and the Isle of Man Chapter of the South African Chamber of Commerce.

Farmer Suellen Daniel, who sold out of hundreds of the locally grown gem squash which are popular in South Africa, said the event had felt “very homely”.

She relocated seven years ago and production on her farmstead was “ramped up” during the pandemic due to demand.

Through a Manx government scheme she has been getting support to expand the Sulby River Farm business further.

She said her family had “felt so welcomed” and the “only niggly thing” was the Manx weather.

Chelsea Gale from Train Smokers, a mobile barbecue which sold burgers, brisket and the traditional South African dish bobotie at the event, has called the Isle of Man home for 20 years.

She said although the current economic climate was hard for businesses, she was glad she had made the move.

“I love living here, it’s safe for the kids, I don’t think I could live anywhere else right now,” she added.

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