The Cape Minstrel Carnival Finally Takes Place

The annual minstrels’ parade was held on Saturday the 17th of January in Cape Town.  After numerous delays the carnival was placed back on track.

Cape Town CoonThe City of Cape Town and the Cultural and Carnival Committee were responsible for hosting and managing the event.  The City of Cape Town awarded R2 million to the committee to manage the event, however delays resulted from details in the committee’s application to the city and ensuring that the plan met with the city’s events policy and national legislation.  The original date scheduled was between the 3rd to the 5th of January and then it was moved for religious reasons to the 10th of January, which clashed with the ANC’s 103rd anniversary celebrations which were to be held in the Cape Town Stadium.  As a result of these postponements, the date was moved to the 17th of January then agreed upon and finalised.

The carnival usually occurs right at the beginning of the New Year and commemorates the day that the slaves used to celebrate the New Year which was their official day of rest.  Slaves were given the 2nd of January to rest and celebrate the New Year.  Since slavery was abolished in 1834, the carnival has taken place to celebrate this part of the Cape’s heritage.  The festival is also referred to as the Kaapse Klopse or Coon Carnival by Capetonians, although it was renamed to The Cape Town Minstrel Carnival by local authorities as it was realised that tourists found the word “coon” to be offensive.  Participants in the carnival are typically Afrikaans-speaking working class Cape Coloured families who have kept the tradition alive since the mid nineteenth century.

Around 60,000 people lined the streets of Cape Town on the 17th to celebrate the traditional “Tweede Nuwe Jaar” (Second New Year) parade.  Enthusiastic spectators camped out overnight in order to secure ideal viewing spots and several of the city’s roads around the CBD were closed for the festivities with the police patrolling the area to ensure everyone’s safety.  Sixty minstrel troupes marched in the parade and 40,000 performers took part in the celebrations.  The festival included choir competitions, song competitions, costume competitions, marches, exhibitions and other events throughout the day.

About Maja Dezulovic

I am a published author and a writer with a passion for business, technology, travel and health.