A Chinese New Year in Africa

By Kate Thomas and Tom Spender
Posted on Friday, 6 March 2015 14:30

In Johannesburg, crowds gather for dragon and lion dances and a giant fireworks display.

Zambian car parts trader Garisto Mwanza visits China’s Guangzhou several times a year on business.

“You could say it’s in my blood now,” he says. “I joined friends for a big party in Lusaka last year.”

Lusaka’s Chinese Spring Festival includes acrobatics displays and a dinner with traditional dishes like ‘Buddha jumps over the wall’.

But New Year celebrations don’t always go to plan.

In 2007, a Chinese-funded fireworks display lit up the skies of Monrovia.

While those in the know cast their eyes to the heavens, others jumped into taxis to flee the city.

Four years after the end of the civil war, the loud explosions were a little too close for comfort. ● KT

What to expect from the Year of the Sheep

The Year of the Horse is ending and the Year of the Sheep is beginning. What does it all mean?

The Chinese zodiac is a calendar system dating from the Han dynasty (206-220 BC).

The 12 years of its cycle are named after animals – the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

The five elements – earth, water, fire, wood and metal – interact with the animals to create the specific character of each year.

So what will 2015’s sheep be like?

A wooden sheep, associated with strength and flexibility. The sheep is seen as idealistic and mild-mannered, kind and loyal.

Also Read: Go east young man!

But many Chinese view those born in a Sheep Year as unsuited for China’s highly competitive society.

Being a sheep is baa-d luck then?

Apparently so. One saying has it that only one in 10 people born in a Sheep Year finds happiness.

Many couples tried to conceive before last May in order to give birth in the final days of the Horse Year.

The horse is seen as energetic and successful.

So is there going to be a dramatic slump in China’s birth rate?

That’s unlikely. China’s one-child policy and rapid development are more important in population trends.

What if I was born in a Sheep Year?

Then watch out. Legend has it that in your zodiac year you will offend Tai Sui, the god of age, and will thus experience bad luck for the entire year.

To fend off misfortune you should wear something red that was given to you by someone else.

Who else is in my flock?

Michelangelo, Thomas Edison, Nicole Kidman and Muhammad Ali – which perhaps debunks the theory that sheep are passive losers. ● TS

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