Hundreds of people participate in this year’s Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, or “Kaapse klopse” as it is known locally, which has become an outlet for South African youth in the Cape Flats, where they have historically been plagued by gangsterism and drug addiction.
Gangsterism and drug addiction is rife among teens and young adults but many are opting to join the minstrels as an alternative.
“We got our carols by candlelight, we got our orphanage days, we got our sports days. We’re trying our best to keep these kids from the streets and it’s not only ‘klopse’ (minstrels) at the end of the year, it’s right through. This is only the end result,” said Brett Scholtz, director, Playaz Inc Minstrels.
We got our carols by candlelight, we got our orphanage days, we got our sports days.
“Cape Town and the coons have always been a historical part of our city and it plays a big role in getting kids from the street and off the street away from gangsterism as an alternative. There’s lots of kids here and teams and their owners who provide instruments to these kids who normally wouldn’t be able to afford them, their parents wouldn’t be able to afford them,” Ismael Saliem, an entrepreneur added.
Besides the economic benefits brought by the annual carnival, the communities find unity and a common enjoyment.
“How they practice evening after evening, it is really keeping the people of Cape Town busy, keeping the youngsters in our communities busy, keeping them away from the drugs, away from the gangs, away from the yards, to sit on the yards and carrying on with all their nonsense and the gangsterism in the community. The minstrels event year after year playing a significant role in transforming the society of Cape Town,” Dan Plato, Cape Town mayor said.
More than 20,000 people from across the Cape Peninsula participate in the Minstrel Parade and the competition that follows in the weeks after the street parade.