Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
LOOKOUT Café in Victoria Falls was a hive of activity on Friday as scores of tourists from different nationalities celebrated St Patrick’s Day for the first time in Zimbabwe.
St Patrick is the beloved patron saint of Ireland who is believed to have died in 460AD and the European country celebrates his day annually since 1980.
Irish nationals dress in their traditional green colours to celebrate the day, which attracts hundreds of visitors to their country, with activities ranging from a carnival, music, and dance as well as soccer, where a final match of a tournament is held on the day.
Lookout Café, run by leading tour operator Wild Horizons, borrowed the idea and brought it to Zimbabwe as a way of attracting tourists who usually would stay away from travelling during the period to celebrate the day in their country. Now they can join their counterparts back home and celebrate the day away from home.
Scores of locals also joined in the celebrations which were marked with cool Irish music soothing a cool evening served with drinks and different kinds of dishes while sharing jokes and Irish history.
The main attraction was people dressed in different attires with the common denominator the green colour. This is in line with the three-leaved shamrock to explain the ‘holy trinity’ to the Irish pagans, which was used by St Patrick.
While the celebrations may sound far away from Zimbabwe, it is the desire to ensure people can still travel to Zimbabwe even on the day of the celebration and still enjoy in the country that matters.
Mrs Carol Stephens, an Irish living in Canada, said ever since the day was put in place she doesn’t miss it regardless of which country she is in.
On Friday she was visiting Victoria Falls with her sister and daughter.
“Wherever we are we love to celebrate the day. We make it a point to wear green and when we got here and saw a story (in The Chronicle) we immediately looked for the place.
“ We are really enjoying, this was a fantastic night and especially with the Irish music,” she said.
Mrs Rosie Elder form Northern Ireland said the day is more like an identity for her.
“When we are away from home and get a chance to celebrate the day it’s more like an identity for us because it brings us closer to each other wherever we are,” she said.
Mrs Elder said in Ireland the day is honoured and observed by every section of society from schools, sport and other sectors.
Ms Gillian Walker, a Canadian with Irish roots added: “The more I travel around the world I find new innovative ways of celebrating the day.
“The music here is good and I think if they just add a sing along session because Irish loves their music and want to sing along.”
Food and drinks were offered at 20 percent discount for the night. In Ireland, St Patrick’s Day activities are always held on a Saturday before the actual day and officially kick off with the annual Painting of the Shamrock that takes place at the centre of the city, 9th Street and Phillips Avenue.
The 2017 parade was an exception to the rule and was held the day following St Patrick’s Day — Saturday, March 18.
The first St Patrick’s Day Parade was held in downtown Sioux Falls in 1980.