Cape Town - Come Saturday morning the streets of the CBD will be awash with colour and sound as the minstrels march as part of their annual Tweede Nuwejaar celebrations.
And to make sure they have the best seats in the house, some families have been camping on the pavement in Darling Street since Monday.
Thousands more will line the city’s streets with their packed coolers and gazebos, all ready to see the colourful parade.
People come from as far afield as Mossel Bay and everyone from mothers, grandfathers and young children join in the tradition of claiming their spots as early as they can.
Shamiela Sasman was with her sister, aunt and rest of her family, but was still waiting on others to join them in their shady spot next to the Central Library.
“We come to book a place and we will stay here until Saturday. We are well prepared, we have food and drinks and we have family in Bo-Kaap and every morning till Saturday we will take a shower there. It’s very hot but it is worth it for the spot.”
She said they were glad they chose the spot under the tree as it was shaded and also provided better views of the minstrels when they come down Darling Street.
“This is the best spot because there are a lot of trees and we can see them better. It’s the great entertainment, the tradition, that makes me come back,” Sasman added.
Her sister, Kareemah Zaala, and husband, Adnaan, had made their way from Mossel Bay, a journey they undertake each year, to enjoy the festivities.
“We were born in Cape Town and this is a tradition we come down for every year. We came to Cape Town on the 10th and now we will be sleeping here until Saturday until everything is finished. We are enjoying every minute of it,” Adnaan said.
Shireen Jacobs and her mother, Miriam Jacobs, sat under a tree close to the traffic lights on the corner of Buitenkant and Darling streets. Both said they were excited.
Miriam, 79, said she had been bringing her children to the annual parade since they were three. “We won’t worry about sleep tonight because it will rock.”
She said they had always slept out to secure good seats and enjoyed the experience.
“If you are hungry you can buy something to eat. It is exciting, it’s very exciting for us because we are used to it now.”
The minstrels will take to the streets on Saturday morning with streets between Keizersgracht and Rose Street being closed from 8am until around midnight.
Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Kebby Maphatsoe will lead the Minstrel Parade which will start at noon at the Castle.
The annual Tweede Nuwejaar celebrations take the form of a colourful parade of music and dance.
The minstrels will help launch a historic 12-month long programme of the 350th anniversary of the Castle of Good Hope, as the direct descendants of the slaves.
A traditional ceremony bringing together various indigenous peoples will take place at the site of the first cornerstone which was laid at the foot of the Leerdam Bastion of the Castle.
The first foundation stone was laid on January 2, 1666.
Castle Control Board chief executive Calvyn Gilfellan said: “In commemorating the 350 years, we are going to dig deep and start telling those uncomfortable stories, and take this space from being a bastion of colonialism to a beacon of hope, healing and nation building in a free and democratic South Africa.”
Cape Cultural Events and Carnival Committee chief executive Kevin Momberg said there was a direct link between the cruelty of slavery at the castle during colonial times and social ills currently destroying disadvantaged communities.
“Though our communities remain enslaved by violence, substance abuse and crime, we can at least do all that we can to see that the klopse (minstrels) bring laughter and joy on the Tweede Nuwejaar,” he said.
Maphatsoe’s spokesman, Sonwabo Mbananga, said the Department of Defence (DOD) was the custodian of the commemoration.
The DOD is also the castle’s custodian, with an oversight role over the Castle Control Board, he said.