Tweede Nuwe Jaar festivities face cancellation threat
Cape Town - For the first time since inception in 1907, the threat of cancellation hangs over the city’s Tweede Nuwe Jaar celebrations and the thousands of minstrels who bring colour to the streets of the CBD.
Although there have not been any calls or confirmation that the event will be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Kaapse Klopse Karnival Association director Muneeb Gambeno said that all stakeholders were in constant conversation about the situation.
The City of Cape Town has already cancelled one of the city’s most iconic events, the switching on of the festive lights.
This follows a string of other events that have been cancelled since the outbreak of the virus.
In 2015, the carnival was delayed for the first time because on the initial planned date of January 3, the local Muslim community celebrated the birth of the Prophet Muhammad – it was then moved to January 5 but cancelled hours before the event due to logistical reasons.
As many as 13 000 minstrels take to the streets during the celebrations decked in bright colours, either carrying colourful umbrellas or playing musical instruments. The minstrels are self-organised into Klopse and the vibrations of their musical instruments can be heard across the CBD.
The events that are associated with Klopse in the festive season include competitions for the Christmas Choirs, Cape Malay Choirs and Cape minstrel choirs.
Gambeno said at this event the City would randomly choose “about four or five groups to perform but it is not part of the festival but it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that the event (the switching on of festive lights) has been cancelled because we are still in the middle of a pandemic and that is why we would accept if the carnival is cancelled”.
“The safety of our people has to remain a priority,” he said.
The Festive Lights Switch-On is the City’s signature event which has helped usher in the joyous season for five decades while also providing entertainment for locals and tourists.
Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said in a statement earlier this week: “As the City of Cape Town, we believe events will be central in revitalising the economy going forward. Events have over the years been a major catalyst in the growth of auxiliary sectors like hospitality, retail and tourism, because the people you attract to the events hosted in your city spend money here.
“Over the last seven months, the events industry has however seen a downturn and job losses due to regulations, and as the City we have to assist by supporting event organisers as much as we can.”
Lerato Tlokwe, a Grade 8 pupil, said she and her friends have been attending the festival since she was a toddler.
“My mom and dad used to pack snacks and cooldrinks for us and the whole family would just fill a neighbour’s taxi which my dad would hire or borrow for the day. It is always one of our highlights for during the festive season but it makes sense to cancel it because it gets so full and people are always on top of one another. Rather safe than sorry I say,” she explained.