‘The car­ni­val is part of our her­itage and should be cel­e­brated’

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

IT’S IN his blood, says Des­mond Daw­son, and that’s why he’s been com­ing back an­nu­ally for 25 years to par­tic­i­pate in the Min­strels Car­ni­val.

The 48-year-old from Sur­rey Es­tate was in his early teens when he first joined the car­ni­val, and has since been part of a num­ber of dif­fer­ent troupes, in­clud­ing the Glam­our Boys and Bo-kaap En­ter­tain­ers.

A mem­ber of the San­tam D6 En­ter­tain­ers – the reign­ing Car­ni­val Kings – he says they’ll be go­ing all- out on Tweede Nuwe Jaar on Mon­day to re­tain their crown.

“Win­ning last year’s com­pe­ti­tion was one of the proudest mo­ments of my life,” he says.

“The feel­ing of tak­ing to the stage with your troupe, and do­ing them proud and en­ter­tain­ing the crowds, is un­be­liev­able. The only thing that could beat the feel­ing of win­ning this year’s Car­ni­val Kings would be do­ing it again for 2012.”

A troupe singer, Daw­son says his favourite part of the car­ni­val is com­ing up with new comic songs which re­flect his Cape Malay her­itage – but he also loves per­form­ing.

“It takes months of prepa­ra­tion and prac­tice,” he re­veals.

The new songs must be in­no­va­tive and unique.

“See­ing your song move from a page to the roar­ing ap­plause of the crowd is the great­est re­ward.”

Dis­cussing the growth of the min­strels, Daw­son says the evo­lu­tion of the an­nual event that is al­most as much a part of Cape Town as Ta­ble Moun­tain, has been “un­be­liev­able”.

“As the years went on, more troupes ap­peared, along with new styles to add to such an al­ready vi­brant at­mos­phere.

“In the past, peo­ple said the min­strels were just for gang­sters. But that myth has dis­ap­peared and you see ev­ery­one join­ing in the fun. The min­strels are a part of our her­itage, not only as Cape Malays, but as Capeto­ni­ans, and should be cel­e­brated as such.”

He adds that he’s tried to pass on the legacy to his chil­dren, with some­what lim­ited re­sults, he ad­mits.

“As for me, I’ll keep on com­pet­ing as long as I can,” he says.

“And I know we’ll see the Min­strels Car­ni­val con­tinue to grow for years to come.”

ADDING COLOUR: San­tam D6 En­ter­tain­ers mem­ber Riyaad Peters paints the face of Suleiman Co­ert be­fore a prac­tice run for the Min­strels Car­ni­val.

VET­ERAN: Singer Des­mond Daw­son has been in­volved in the Cape Town Min­strels Car­ni­val for more than 25 years. The vi­brant at­mos­phere and the car­ni­val’s im­por­tance in his her­itage have him com­ing back year af­ter year.

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