Dubai: Hundreds of South African expatriates have gathered in Dubai to mark their country's 15th Freedom Day.
Assembled guests at The Address Hotel in Downtown Burj Dubai were entertained by an evening of traditional South African fare and Zulu dancing. The night's special guest was Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahd, the Minister of Environment and Water.
Freedom Day is a South African public holiday celebrated every year on April 27. It commemorates the first post-apartheid elections held on that day in 1994.
Agnes Nyamande-Pitso, the South African Consul General in Dubai, said: "Freedom Day signifies a new South Africa and a new government that will look into the welfare and development of all South Africans. It is a time to reflect back upon when the oppressed minority were finally given a voice."
"Our relationship with the UAE has also blossomed since 1995 when South Africa opened its first embassy here. We now enjoy very close political and economic ties and there are thousands of South Africans living in the UAE. I am very optimistic the next five years will bring further prosperity and development."
The night's entertainment was provided by Durban-based Singing for Joy, an energetic Zulu dance band comprising of over 40 members and featuring various musical instruments including keyboard, drums, guitar and saxophone.
Kwazi Mbanjwa, the group's owner, said: "We were invited by the embassy to perform here and in Abu Dhabi. We were delighted to join in the UAE celebrations marking freedom in our country.
"Most of the band are students and they all attend the same church - the Holiness Union Church in Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu-Natal province. We have performed all over the world including at Disney World in the United States."
The country's first democratic elections in 1994 marked the first time that South Africans from any race group could vote.