‘Homeboy’ Zweli Mkhize brings festive cheer to Willowfountain

2009-12-21 00:00

KZN Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize brought festive cheer to the community of Willowfountain yesterday when he relaunched an ancient cultural practice that coincided with his silver wedding anniversary.

Held at the Willowfountain Sports Grounds, the revival of the ihlahla custom saw community members come out in their droves, and good wishes and gifts were exchanged in a bid to strengthen the community.

Dr Mkhize stressed the importance of the age-old practice, which has died out over the years, saying it helps to bridge gaps in the community and to cement the bond between people of different age groups.

Originally from Willowfountain, Mkhize said the celebrations also marked his 25th year of marriage.

He thanked the the community for accepting his wife and making her feel at home.

The premier urged residents, especially youngsters, to get tested for HIV and to resist the temptation to engage in unsafe sexual activities at an early age.

Dr Mkhize said he hopes the ihlahla custom will once again be celebrated annually.

Christmas parcels, which included food hampers, were received with great merriment by those in attendance.

High-ranking government officials also came out in their numbers to join the festivities. Some of the VIP guests were members of the provincial legislature, councillors of the Msunduzi Municipality, the mayor of the uMgungundlovu District Municipality and other ANC regional heavyweights.

President Jacob Zuma was scheduled to make an appearance, but was unable to make it as cloudy skies delayed his flight from Copenhagen to South Africa.

Although disappointed by the president’s absence, Willowfountain residents remained upbeat throughout the proceedings.

Traditional dancers, inlcuidng Zulu maidens, and other artists performed to thunderous applause and Mkhize commended the crowd for taking pride in their culture.

Also on site were Home Affairs facilities, where people could get their identity documents, processed and two stations for testing HIV status.

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