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Cape minstrels running the show

Cape Minstrels showing their colours marching down Darling street. Picture Henk Kruger

Cape Minstrels showing their colours marching down Darling street. Picture Henk Kruger

Published Nov 17, 2014

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Cape Town - In what has been hailed as historic, this year’s minstrel carnival through the streets of Cape Town will be run by minstrels themselves.

This comes as the city signs an agreement with a collective of Cape Town minstrel associations, choirs and bands on Monday, weeks before the annual minstrel events commence.

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The yearly row between the city and minstrel groups previously had them at loggerheads over the city appointing an events organising company to arrange the annual Tweede Nuwe Jaar parade.

Minstrels felt aggrieved, saying they did not want to be guests at their own event which they were capable of arranging themselves.

The minstrels, bands and choirs have formed a joint association, the Cape Cultural Events and Carnival Committee, to sign the agreement with Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille. Minstrels say the agreement gives them control over the events.

One of the committee’s leaders, Kevin Momberg, said it represented 30 000 people.

“We’ve been at each other’s throats. We’ve taken the city to court and they’ve taken us to court… We feel positive about this agreement. With support, it shouldn’t be too difficult to organise the street marches on our own,” he said.

Richard Stemmet, Cape Town Minstrels Carnival Association chairman said: “We’ve been fighting with the city for all these years. We had become guests at our own house and the city walks away with the money. This year, it was given over to us to handle our own events, this is history.”

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The city would fund three events with R2 million - the Christmas Choir Bands March on December 24, the Malay Choir “nagtroepe” March on December 31 and the Tweede Nuwe Jaar Minstrel March on January 2.

“I’m very happy to say the fight will end with this agreement. We will be taking charge of our own events,” he said.

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Charles Fisher, of the Kaapse Karnival Association, said:

“The new organisation will be the custodian of road marches. Everyone is on board with the new organisation, everyone is quite happy to be involved.”

De Lille said all stakeholders came to an agreement to communicate and rise above their differences for the sake of their communities.

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“The annual minstrel parades and the Cape Malay choir events are part of our history in Cape Town. Therefore we should not politicise our history,” De Lille said.

She said this came after the city appointed retired Constitutional Court judge Kate O’Regan in 2011 as an independent mediator to lead negotiations to lay the foundation for a successful carnival.

Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC Nomafrench Mbombo stressed the importance of giving the minstrel groups the opportunity to showcase their talents and motivate the youth to get involved.

“We need to preserve this important part of the Western Cape’s heritage and show youth that they are the ones who should carry this legacy on to their own children,” Mbombo said.

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Cape Times

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