Cape minstrels finally celebrate Tweede Nuwe Jaar

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

After a drawn-out battle with Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, the city’s minstrels went ahead with their twice-postponed Tweede Nuwe Jaar parade yesterday.

Kevin Momberg, chief executive of the Cape Cultural and Carnival Committee (CCCC), said minstrels travelled from various parts of the city for the colourful annual parade in central Cape Town.

Cape minstrels at the ANC's 103rd anniversary rally at Cape Town Stadium on January 10. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Cape minstrels at the ANC’s 103rd anniversary rally at Cape Town Stadium on January 10. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

City officials estimated up to 60,000 people attended the minstrel carnival. Traditionally, minstrels gather in central Cape Town to mark Tweede Nuwe Jaar as a day of celebration for slaves that lived in the colonial Cape.

The carnival was initially planned for January 3, but was postponed as the local Muslim community celebrated the birth of Prophet Muhammad on that day.

It was then moved to January 5, but cancelled hours before the event was to start due to logistical reasons. A blame game ensued between minstrel organisers and De Lille.

Last week troubled again brewed when De Lille issued a statement, claiming minstrel bosses tasked with organising the parade had not paid service providers.

De Lille warned: “If the event does not go ahead, we will take steps to reclaim the money we have given them to organise their event.”

De Lille had also called for an audit of the R2-million the city gave the CCCC to organise the parade and three other festive season events. The city also offered R1,6-million in services for the event.

The provincial cultural affairs and sport department also gave CCCC R2,35-million towards organising the four events.

Momberg said they agreed to pay service providers R257,000 for toilets and fencing. He said they had agreed to pay them on the day that De Lille publically raised the issue of non-payment.

“We cannot understand why the mayor felt it necessary to show this much interest in the dealings between us as the event organiser and our service provider. She didn’t even consult with us,” said Momberg.

“She wants to discredit us. Maybe it’s because we support the ANC.”

Momberg is also chief executive of the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Association (CTMCA), which has 40 signed up minstrel troupes it oversees across Cape Town.

It backs the ANC in the country’s only DA-led province and its troupes participated in ANC 103rd anniversary celebration at Cape Town Stadium on January 10.

It is the first year that minstrels have been given money to organise their own parade and carnival. In previous years, the City of Cape Town and private companies organised the event.

Momberg said this had to change, as they were “merely guests” at these events.

“The mayor wants to show that we can’t organise ourselves,” said Momberg.

“Ever since being handed this event at a very late stage with a budget considerably less than which the city ran the event on, there has been the greatest sense of bad faith and an air of sabotage in much of the city’s dealings with us,” he added.

“One gets the distinct impression that failure is the outcome wished for this organisation, our troupes and our communities. This will however not be the case.”

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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