The Southern African Association of Oklahoma recently held its summer meeting in Edmond.
The association includes people who are originally from the Republic of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and several other nations in that region who now make their home in the Sooner State. Whites, blacks, Indians and people of mixed racial heritage reside in Southern Africa, and members of all of those racial groups were in attendance at the gathering.
The Tulsa area is home to many immigrants from Southern Africa, and some of them came to Edmond for the meeting. The event began with a series of tennis tournaments and continued with a pool party held at one of the members’ Edmond home.
The guests included a retired physician who explained that he came to Oklahoma in 1950 from South Africa to attend the University of Oklahoma and elected to stay in the state after he graduated from that university’s medical school. Another attendee, a professor at the OU College of Dentistry who is originally from Zimbabwe, said that he will be moving to South Africa later this summer to take a teaching position at a dental school there.
Afrikaans, the language of the white minority of South Africa, was heard throughout the evening along with the African language of Shona and accented English. Several South Africans who are currently students at the OU Health Sciences Center were present.
Children of various races played together in the pool under a pale moon, and it was clear that they had a bond that transcended their racial and ethnic differences. Many of them addressed the adult males who were present as “uncle” in accordance with Southern African tradition.
Spicy sausages that are known in South Africa as boerewors, along with fried pastries known as samosas that were brought to South Africa by Indian immigrants in the 19th century were served along with many other items. The host of the party, who is an immigrant from Zimbabwe, imports wine from Southern Africa and operates a brewery in the Oklahoma City area, and provided the beverages for the party.
Most of the adult guests have prospered in Oklahoma, and seemed happy with the lives that they have built for themselves and their families here. One young Zimbabwean immigrant spoke of how much she enjoys attending her Edmond high school and said that she was warmly received there by both the students and the teachers.
Many of the young immigrants spoke about their plans to pursue careers in health care and other fields.
Music by Zimbawean artists filled the air and many of the guests danced gracefully in rows to songs that reminded them of the land of their birth.
WILLIAM F. O’BRIEN is an Oklahoma City attorney.