Shepparton’s South Sudanese community came together on Saturday afternoon to celebrate their country’s independence.
The special event had members of the community dancing and singing in joy to celebrate the nation’s eighth year of freedom.
Community chairwoman Antonita Kuol said Independence Day meant a lot to her community.
‘‘It’s a very special day for me because it’s another day of knowing that our country is growing up,’’ Ms Kuol said.
More than 300 people from across Victoria were expected to attend the celebration, including four families from Melbourne.
Community development officer Thon Thon said his community took the celebration seriously because many of them lived and grew up in the war.
‘‘Our country had been in war for quite some time and when we got independence in 2011 there was a lot of people in this building who were born in the war, who grew up in the war, and had their kids in the war,’’ Mr Thon said.
The annual event had a significant focus on teaching the younger generations about their country’s background and traditions.
Mr Thon said a lot of the community’s children had grown up in Australia and had never experienced their culture.
‘‘The older generation are pushing them to learn about their culture,’’ he said.
After the formal ceremony was complete, children had the opportunity to perform cultural dances they had learned from older community members.
The celebrations continued long into the afternoon as the community shared traditional Sudanese food and taught members of the wider community how to drum.
Ms Kuol said she would like to thank the entire Shepparton community for helping to make their celebration possible.
‘‘We really appreciate every single bit that any person especially in Shepparton do for us,’’ she said.