Guests were dazzled with spectacular performances during the 2016 International Festival for Language and Culture, when students representing 13 countries took to stage to celebrate the diversities across the world.

Tanzania, India, Germany, USA, Madagascar and Mozambique were among the countries that proudly showcased their heritages through performances. These cultures were expressed in more than 150 entertainments at the Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein, Johannesburg on April 21, Thursday evening.

The annual unique event that celebrates diversity, friendship, dialogue, peace and ubuntu seeks to combat violence, human injustices and other conflicts in the world was honoured by prominent people as: Baleka Mbete,  Naledi Pandor, Faith Mazibuko, Shengiwe Mkhize and musical icon Sibongile Khumalo.

Mbete, who spoke during the opening of the festival, said: “This festival is truly unique, because it brings young people together who are hopefully our future leaders from so many diverse countries, and backgrounds to engage and find each other.

So, this is truly a multicultural, multinational, multilateral moment and occasion. For me culture is what defines as civilisation, because it helps us understand what is around us”.

She further said that the best way to combat violence and injustice is through education and sharing of cultural values. The Festival also extended tokens of appreciation to the Gauteng’s Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and The City Johannesburg.

In her acceptance speech MEC Mazibuko said: “We thank the IFLC for granting the Gauteng province this important token of appreciation, especially seeing that Gauteng is a multicultural nation where you find different kind of people. We hope this will indeed put us on the map. Thank you.”

The legendary jazz singer, Sibongile Khumalo, was also honoured as one of the prominent speakers, she said that arts education imbedded within mainstream education is a human right. “It is my wish that we do not just have one festival of language and culture. So that we develop balanced, responsible, empathetic and responsive young people”, Khumalo said.

The minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, said that it is important to preserve every culture and that everyone has to enjoy locally-created culture. She alarmingly, 5 out every 10 languages are in danger of extinction, and 9 out of every 10 languages are not on the internet.

“This evening has been a wonderful expression of cultural diversity and unity. It has been a wonderful expression of talent, and international collaboration. It showed that there is a society in a world that can indeed reflect many cultures in just one setting. We thank the performers for their wonderful entertainment they have shown us this evening,” she said.