Events in Cape Town CentralCape Town Minstrel Carnival
Where? Cape Town City
When? 2 January 2017
Kaapse klopse’ or Cape Town Minstrel Carnival: The city of Cape Town comes alive to celebrate new year in a raucous carnival the likes of which are not seen elsewhere in the world, unless you’re ready to compare it with the mardi gras in New Orleans and the carnevale in Rio de Janeiro, which it isn’t, not quite, although certainly it has its roots therein.
The Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, as it’s officially known, takes place every year at new year when thousands of musicians, singers, dancers and tailors connected to them, gear themselves for the traditional ‘Kaapse klopse’ or ‘Coon carnival’ (its more common name - although this isn’t a particularly politically correct term in the ‘new South Africa’).
The origin of the carnival stretches back to the 19th century and has its origins in the time of slavery in Cape Town, when the original citizens of District Six were allowed their one day off on January 1st. The event, which has developed a distinct Cape flavour, is also supposed to have ties to the minstrel entertainers who stopped off in Cape Town on huge American ocean liners, over 100 years ago.
Over ten thousand costumed, banjo-picking musicians and dancers, their faces painted white, as opposed to the original black-painted faces of the visiting minstrels, parade and march through the streets, followed by a series of dance, singing and costume competitions at Green Point Stadium.
With band names like ‘dixies’, ‘the district six band’, and songs like ‘take me to Mannenberg’, this is a celebration of life and new year, rather than a reflection on the days of slavery, for most of those involved are third or fourth generation, and the more garish the costume, and the more the banjo tunes can make your feet tap, the better.
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