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Rangers Malay Choir has come a long way

The Rangers Malay Choir, which was initially established in 1961 at the De Wet’s residence in District Six, has become a force to be reckoned with and has given memorable performances. Picture: Supplied

The Rangers Malay Choir, which was initially established in 1961 at the De Wet’s residence in District Six, has become a force to be reckoned with and has given memorable performances. Picture: Supplied

Published Aug 4, 2022

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by Nazeem Davids

The Rangers Malay Choir was initially established in 1961 at the De Wet’s residence in District Six by, among others, Yusuf “Joe” Otto, Cassiem Doutie, Ebrahim “Katjies” Arendse and Mogamat Noor “Boeta Nauty” Masoet, and competed in the Cape Malay Choir Board (CMCB) competitions.

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Sadly, in 1990 when the Malay choir competitions went into a hiatus for the Ramadaan period over the festive season, the club became dormant.

In 2002 two members of the Rangers Rugby Club, Ashraf Salie and Faldie Trout, saw the need to build some team spirit among their players and resurrected the Rangers Malay Choir to participate in the New Year’s Eve parade.

Eight years later, in 2010, at the behest of its members and supporters, Faldie Trout with Riedewaan Soeker as president, officially started Rangers Sporting Club at their new base in Grassy Park, to participate once again in the CMCB competitions.

Of interest is the fact that Rangers SC has always had close ties with the Mama’s Cultural and Religious Centre, a well established substance and drug abuse rehabilitation organisation, and many of the patients joined the choir as part of their recovery programme. So, although the modern Rangers SC is only 12 years old, its history goes way back to the early ’60s.

In the first year of competition, Rangers were moderately successful and qualified for the President’s Cup, just missing out on a Top Eight spot.

The next two years, however, brought little reward, with hardly any prizes in the sectional competitions. Rangers SC needed a shake-up to be recognised as worthy opponents and Faldie and Riedewaan engaged proven coaches Tauriq Blignaut and Malay Choir legend Samsodien “Dienie” Pregnolato to up their game.

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Lead singer Faiez Abrahams also took over the coaching of the Nederlandse Lied.

The changes brought immediate results and the quality of Rangers’ choral rendition improved dramatically, with them winning 1st prize for the Nederlandse Lied.

In 2016, a number of the now defunct Signals SC members joined and Rangers qualified for their second Top Eight competition, ending up as joint winners with the highest percentages for the combined chorus and the comic song.

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Rangers had become a force to be reckoned with and gave memorable performances over the following years, becoming a fixture in and twice just missing out on winning the Top Eight competition.

The Rangers Malay Choir, which was initially established in 1961 at the De Wet’s residence in District Six, has become a force to be reckoned with and has given memorable performances. Picture: Supplied

Like almost every other Malay choir, Rangers SC are facing major financial challenges with funding for transport, profe ssional stage bands and assisting unemployed members desperately needed.

Riedewaan Soeker said: “At one stage we were considering closing the club. It has just become too costly to play the game. Fortunately, two very successful functions have made it possible to participate in the first competition in more than two years.”

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He paid tribute to founder member Boeta Joe Otto, Mansoer Jaffer and Ighsaan van der Schyff, who all passed on recently. At their very successful Nederlandse evening held last Saturday, Boeta Nauty Masoet and Boeta Barlow were the last of the old guard present from the 1960s.

Rangers SC has become synonymous with high-quality choral singing and many Malay choir patrons like their big “Singpak” (choir) characteristically singing “voluit” (with gusto). With the CMCB competition less than two months away, Rangers is very busy with rehearsals and the word on the street is their combined chorus is going to be hard to beat. After more than two years of inactivity, there is a tangible air of excitement in all the Malay choir club rooms.

The Covid-19 pandemic might have silenced the beautiful sounds temporarily, but the Malay Choir culture has survived and is rising again. Rangers SC is one of those choirs leading the charge.

The CMCB draw was held on July 17. Section 1 will take place on September 24 and the choirs competing will be Boarding Boys, Marines SK, Jonge Studente SK, Angeliere SK, Young Zinnias SC and Rangers SC. Section 2 will take place on October 1 and consists of Ottoman SC, Primroses MVC, Parkdales SK, Jonge Manhattans SK and Young Caballeros SC.

Nazeem Davids

* Nazeem Davids

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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