THOUSANDS of spectators lined the streets of Cape Town to watch minstrel troupes and bands as they marched around the city as part of the annual minstrel parade yesterday.
About 70 troupes and bands totalling 46 000 participants took to the streets dressed in vibrant multicoloured costumes made of silk and satin.
They were led by children, some as young as five, doing all manner of acrobatics to the sound of drums and trumpets.
The Cape Minstrel Carnival, also known as Tweede Nuwejaar (Second New Year) is a long-standing cultural event dating from the slave traditions of the Cape Colony. It is celebrated on January 2, the one day slaves were given off.
A performer from the Heideveld Minstrels, Henry Erasmus, 58, said he had taken part in the parade for 30 years.
“My children and grandchildren are also part of the parade. Our forefathers were minstrels and we are following in their footsteps.”
Dressed in a sparkly jacket dotted with red stars, he said the troupe had spent more than six months practising their dance moves and songs and putting their costumes together.
Performers with painted faces and brightly coloured parasols danced and sang their way from Keizersgracht down Tenant Road into Sir Lowry, along Adderley and Buitengracht, finishing at Castle and Rose streets.
Zaidah Mohamed, 49, of Salt River said she had been attending the festival since she was a child living in District Six.
“I come here every year to enjoy the dancing, music and the vibe around the city.”
Albert Webster, the City of Cape Town’s acting manager for arts and culture, said a scuffle had broken out at the corner of Adderley and Darling streets as people, frustrated by the gazebos which blocked their view, pushed and shoved their way forward.