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Small businesses suffer as Cape minstrels parade cancelled for the second year in a row

Cancellation of the Cape minstrels parade two years in a row is a blow to the event, which is of historical and cultural significance, as well as a huge tourist attraction, and job creator, for the Western Cape. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency

Cancellation of the Cape minstrels parade two years in a row is a blow to the event, which is of historical and cultural significance, as well as a huge tourist attraction, and job creator, for the Western Cape. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency

Published Dec 23, 2021

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Cape Town - Cancellation of a Cape tradition, the Tweede Nuwe Jaar minstrel parade, has impacted heavily on the small business owners for whom the carnival is a lifeblood and who are now struggling to stay afloat.

One of them is Janap Allie, a seamstress who has been making minstrel uniforms for more than 15 years. Allie said she made 3 000 uniforms every year at R50 a uniform, but now she has no income.

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“This is a real loss because that money helped me a lot, all the business has just gone down the drain. I miss making the uniforms, I would get people to help me and it was fun because they received an income and they did pay us well. We could’ve lived lekker for the holidays,” Allie said.

Claude Jonas, owner of the Baruch troupe in Elsies River, says that even though the carnival is not continuing, they are still trying to keep the spirit of carnival alive.

“There is no recourse or anyway that we can attempt to have any event on second New Year to the magnitude that we are all used to. Yes we miss the culture and the tradition of our culture but realistically and in a humane sense we need to think of the safety of people and lives importantly first.

“We’ve reverted to doing our musical school where we teach the youth how to read music and how to play instruments to keep it going and to sustain the work that we’ve put in over the past few years,” Jonas said.

The traditional Tweede Nuwe Jaar parade and the annual competition was first cancelled in 2020. It has been decided that festivities will not be taking place early next year either.

In previous years the carnival attracted more than 150 000 spectators, locally and internationally, filling the streets of the Cape Town CBD to bear witness to talented minstrel troupes in colourful regalia.

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The decision to once again cancel the carnival was taken by carnival organisers, the Kaapse Klopse Karnival Association (KKKA) to put this much loved tradition on hold to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Muneeb Gambeno, KKKA director, has said that after consultation with the City and other stakeholders, “taking into consideration that we are experiencing a fourth wave, the best decision was to cancel”.

“The conclusion was that we can’t have a carnival of this format in the space within the context of Covid-19 as it stands now. Our communities were ravaged by Covid-19 over the past three years, the question is - do we host a carnival at the cost of life and the answer is no.

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“It would have been negligent of us to host a carnival within this context,” he said.

Luthando Tyhalibongo, City of Cape Town spokesperson said: “The cancellation of any event hosted in Cape Town is disappointing because events play a major role in the economy.

“However, the current situation continues to hurt the economy and severely affect the thousands of people who rely on this industry.

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“This has a domino effect because no events means less bookings at our hotels from international visitors who come to Cape Town for events, less people at our tourist attractions and restaurants,” Tyhalibongo said.

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Cape Argus

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