December 12, 2012
Gearing up for the Minstrels Carnival in Cape Town
The sounds of brass instruments and drums are popular on the Cape Flats at this time of the year.
Thousands of people, from toddlers to grandparents, are preparing for the annual Minstrel competition – which traditionally starts at the beginning of January and ends in February.
One of the most widely anticipated events is the day-long procession on January 2, when people line the streets in the city to watch a colourful spectacle – more than 100 satin-suited troupes march through the CBD, playing musical instruments, dancing and performing.
Preparations start months in advance, troupes practise for long hours on open fields in their communities, and outfits are custom-made by dedicated tailors across the city.
Most of the Minstrels live on the Cape Flats and as the year draws to a close troupes prepare to compete against each other.
If you live on the Cape Flats you know the festive season has arrived when your evenings are punctuated with the sound of brass instruments wafting across the warm summer air.
A season-long competition, which runs until February at stadiums on the Cape Flats culminates with the best troupes being crowned winners.
Troupes also have processions through suburbs on the Cape Flats, with their festive music luring people from their homes to cheer them on.
In some neighbourhoods wire is strung up between electricity poles and the troupe’s colours in strips of material, are dangled from it.
This is also the time when tailors are busy sewing thousands of brightly-coloured satin outfits.
The Cape Town festive season would not be the same without the Minstrel parade which takes place on Tweede Nuwejaar (Second New Year).
People line the route from the day before, when the Malay choirs take to the streets to herald in the New Year.
Many come prepared with their picnic baskets and blankets and erect their canopies on the pavement. These are the serious, seasoned spectators who cheer on their favourite troupes as they make their way down Adderley Street.