Min­strels and mu­sic ghoema in new year

More than 60 bands and choirs to flood city

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - KOWTHAR SOLOMONS

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.”

kowthar.solomons@inl.co.za

PIC­TURES: BREN­TON GEACH

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.

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