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As I heard the sound of trumpets, trombones, tubas and various percussion instruments fill the streets when I walked up Wale the other day, I knew the Kaapse Klopse (Minstrel Festival) was up to something…
The Kaapse Klopse (Minstrel Festival) has been synonym to Cape Town for years and though I’ve encountered them on many street corners with their colourful umbrellas and satin attire while playing banjo’s and brass, I decided to pull them under the cover and find out who they really are…
Kaapse Klopse troupes consist typically of Afrikaans-speaking working class “coloured” families and though you may find them scattered over Cape Town, they do in fact have one very big event namely the Minstrel Festival that takes place on the 2nd of January every year.
History shows that while under slavery, many of the olden day Kaapse Klopse were unable to celebrate New Year as they were bound to a wealthy household’s personal orchestra or slave band. So in the early 1800’s, the 2nd of January became the slaves’ New Year, on which day they paraded in the streets, made music and visited friends and family. The 2nd of January was the only day that slaves were given off each year.
The festival is made up of troupes who dress in the same traditional costumes (which change colour annually) but hold the same characteristics: trousers, suit jacket, umbrella (all in satin) with an accompanying instrument that they have been practicing throughout the year…
While watching the joyful noise and twirling my fiancé on the pavement, I watched many kids dressed in the same matching outfits running from their Bo-Kaap houses and joining the troupe in their parade.
Every year the Kaapse Klopse parades through the streets of Cape Town, starting in District Six and working their way to the Bo-Kaap and by midday on the 2nd of January they would start at Keizergracht Street and parade through Darling Street all the way into Adderley. From Adderley Street the Minstrel Festival would turn into Wale and go up as far as Bree Street.
The powerful unifying element that music and dancing brings was proven once again as tourists from all across the world clapped and cheered happily side by side with the locals (including us). The dancing in the street somehow melted into the rainbow of the Kaapse Klopse giving much credit to our very aptly described Rainbow Nation.
When different people come together and combine their drops of joy, their rays of passion from the same stage, a national rainbow of hope is created and draws the attention of the world.