Cape Town streets set to come alive as minstrel parade returns after two years

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Cape Town’s streets are set to come alive to the sights of colourful minstrels and sounds of the ghoema once again.

After a two-year absence during the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual minstrel competition, Malay choir road marches and the historic 2de Nuwe Jaar Minstrel Parade will resume this year.

The City of Cape Town says it will provide financial support, event services and waive the use of City facilities for the events.

The history of the minstrels has its roots in the times of slavery in the Cape with the Tweede Nuwe jaar parade a permanent fixture for thousands of residents. And for a while, as the world battled COVID-19, the ghome fell silent, and the satins packed away

” What we deliver is a bit of happiness to sad people, old people, every type of people, we give a bit of laughter, make funny faces and smiles and all that so that brings for me joy if we can deliver a bit of happiness to our people.”

Important for cultural heritage

Cape Town’s Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis says it is important that the rich cultural heritage of the minstrels is preserved.

“The choirs will be heard again in the streets of Cape Town. The Klopse will be seen again on Tweede Nuwe jaar after a really terrible break for the last few summers that have done a lot of harm obviously to the communities that love this tradition. This unique cultural feature of Cape Town and also for the many people who rely on what has become a big summer industry in Cape Town so its great to have it back.”

Minstrel competitions will take place throughout January while the ‘2de Nuwe Jaar’ Minstrel Parade will return to its traditional date of the 2nd of January.

The director of Kaapase Klopse Karnivall, Muneeb Gambeno says the carnival also needs corporates and society to come on board.

“City funding is enabling and supportive of our goals that we want to achieve. It allows us to activate the event, but this carnival requires corporates and society to come on board and walk the talk with us. During the standstill, everyone complained about carnival not being around now is the time to step up and say let’s take this carnival and really grow it to an iconic world event which it can be.”

The first of the events, the Cape Malay Choir Board Choral competition, kicks off in Ottery on Heritage Day this Saturday.

Six of the ten choirs are expected to perform, the choral competitions are expected to run until the end of October for the grand finale at the Athlone Stadium.

Cape Malay choir board president Ismail Ely says they have ten choirs participating.

“This time after COVID, we have ten choirs that will participate through this and they have been trying to keep the team together but we are very happy and glad we can present them now to the team instead of saying sorry lets wait on next year, we are resilient. We always have been and that’s where we are.”

The City says in order to allow for stability and better planning of future events, it will ask council to approve new three-year agreements to fund the road march events.

Minstrels groups preparing for the event two year ago before COVID-19