Minstrels and music ghoema in new year
More than 60 bands and choirs to flood city
THE STREETS of Cape Town will be filled with music and colourful costumes as the annual Malay Choir Road March and Minstrels Carnival welcome in the new year.
Albert Webster, the City of Cape Town’s acting arts and culture manager, said more than 60 Malay choirs and bands were expected to perform tonight on New Year’s Eve.
Between 30 000 and 40 000 spectators were expected to flood into the city centre tonight, with a further 80 000 anticipated to join the celebrations across other areas of Cape Town for a swinging party to see in the New Year.
A Cape Town tradition, the Malay Choir March, along with the Minstrels Carnival, attracts local and international tourists.
The event is deeply rooted in Cape Malay culture, and is synonymous with colourful costumes, face paint, brass bands and ghoema, or comic songs. The foundation for the songs was laid more than 200 years ago. While some of the music may have been lost, many new songs have been added over the past two centuries.
Classics such as the love song Rosa and the almost century-old Oraal die Donder Knel, based on historical events, are always crowd favourites.
Shafick April, president of the Cape Malay Choir Board, said they planned to carry on the road march tradition started in 1887.
“We’ll come out and do our thing, and make sure everyone has some responsible fun and enjoys welcoming in the New Year with us.
“We may not be as flashy as the Minstrels Carnival, but we definitely won’t be sidelined by them, and it’s going to be a great night for everyone.”
The march starts tonight at 9pm in Keizersgracht, with the route taking the minstrels via Darling Street and Adderley Street, into Wale Street. They will then cross into Buitengracht, before ending off at Castle and Rose streets.
The starting time is to accommodate Muslim prayers, and will end at 3am tomorrow in respect for churches.
The fun starts again on Monday, with another famous Cape Town tradition, the annual Minstrels March.
More than 70 minstrel troupes, each featuring between 400 and 1 000 members, would compete this year, said Cape Town Minstrels Carnival Association chairman Richard Stemmet.
He said that while the city and the Minstrels had butted heads on previous occasions concerning venues and times, many of their differences had been resolved, and the carnival was expected to go smoothly.
“We hope this year will be another success for us, and that we’ll continue to go from strength to strength – and everyone who comes out will have a great time.”
The Minstrels will follow the same route as the road march, starting at 10am on Monday, and ending about 10pm.
Webster said the city’s lawenforcement authorities and police would be out in full force to assure a safe environment for the public.
From Tuesday the Minstrel troupes compete in several categories, including best band and best dressed, at the Athlone Stadium. The competition ends on February 11.
Cultural affairs and sport MEC Ivan Meyer said: “This year the Minstrels will march the traditional route via the BoKaap on the traditional day of January 2. I wish the various Minstrel troupes, nagkore (night choirs) and Malay choirs all the success with the major events leading up to the competitions flowing into 2012.”
THE CHAMPIONS: Members of the Santam D6 Entertainers, the reigning Minstrels Carnival Kings, strut their stuff in Bo-kaap before the weekend festivities. They hope to retain their crown for 2012.