Dragon boat racing a growing trend in Johannesburg

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The ancient Chinese culture has come to the city of Johannesburg.

People have been racing dragon boats in China for centuries but it has only been popular on the southern tip of the African continent since 1992.

However, that seems to be changing, as CGTN’s Julie Scheier discovers.

The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu jie, is celebrated annually on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, which is June 20 this year.

The festival is a traditional holiday that commemorates the life and death of the famous Chinese poet Qu Yuan who committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 278 BC upon hearing the news that the Qin State had conquered the capital of Chu.

For thousands of years, the festival has been celebrated by holding dragon boat races and eating zongzi (粽子) glutinous rice with a vegetable and/or meat filling wrapped in bamboo leaves. Traditions of making the special dish vary across different parts of China. Legend has it that the people, sad over Qu Yuan’s suicide, made zongzi to feed to the fishes, so they would not eat his body.

This has proved to be one of the ways to allow cultural interactions with an aim of bringing Africa and China together to build and strengthen their partnerships.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, while meeting African leaders at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in South Africa in 2015, promised to provide assistance in building five cultural centers for Africa.