It’s minstrel war after the glitter

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CAPE ARGUS

Calvino Calvin of the Fabulas Woodstock Starlights does a back flip during the 2010 minstrel carnival. File picture: Sam Clark

Cape Town - A row has erupted in the wake of Saturday’s Kaapse Klopse carnival, turning the traditional street spectacle into a political spat.

The glitter had barely been swept from the streets on Sunday when twin press releases were issued – one from the City of Cape Town and the other from the Kaapse Klopse – levelling scathing criticism at one another over the Tweede Nuwe Jaar parade.

Councillor Grant Pascoe, mayoral committee member for Tourism, Events and Marketing, accused Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Marius Fransman, and Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile of telling thousands of Capetonians and visitors at the Grand Parade that it was the ANC that “saved” this year’s Minstrels event.

He said the party also illegally distributed pamphlets during the parade declaring the ANC had made the 2013/14 Minstrels Carnival possible.

Pascoe accused the minstrels of “cheap political point-scoring”, while the minstrels’ statement said that Pascoe’s “echoes of sour grapes”.

Pascoe’s statement slammed the involvement of the ANC, saying the parade “was never intended to be a political platform”.

He said that instead of

celebrating “our rich cultural heritage”, Fransman and Mashatile chose to score “cheap political points”.

The minstrels responded in a joint statement issued by Ghaliep Essop, media liaison for the Kaapse Klopse Karnaval Association, and Kevin Momberg, chief executive of the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Association.

“Councillor Grant Pascoe suffers from self-inflicted ills as the team he leads in the city has repeatedly shot itself in the foot and is obsessed with conspiracy theories and unhealthy suspicions.”

In an interview, Essop said the city’s comments had given a bitter aftertaste to a great event.

“We just feel disgusted. They want to rubbish an event that we thought was brilliant.”

Instead of the carnival being organised by the City of Cape Town, Essop said the minstrels wanted full control, which they were granted in part by the involvement of national government.

“It was the best Tweede Nuwe Jaar that we’ve ever had, because we owned the process,” Essop said. “What the city wants to do is invite us to the minstrel event. How can that be when it is our event? We are the experts and we know best because it’s our culture.”

But Pascoe said the city had last month reached an amicable agreement with minstrel associations on the running of the carnival. The associations were going to participate in event management this year, then take greater control over the parade next year. He said the city had contributed R3.5 million towards the carnival in the form of traffic control, safety and security, law enforcement and cleaning.

But the minstrel troupes felt the city officials were cramping the style of the cultural celebration.

“The minstrels repeatedly cautioned the city officials of trying too hard to constrict a cultural and heritage occasion that is community driven. We are fed up with the mess the City has made of negotiations and the attempts to hold the thousands of participants at ransom with a spoilsport attitude,” their statement concluded.

Cape Argus


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