There is no doubt: One of the best days in Cape Town is the 2nd of January. On this day, the Tweede Nuwe Jaar, or Second New Year, the entire city is the stage of the biggest party of the year: the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, or Kaapse Klopse. I witnessed this event last year for the first time, and I swore to be there in 2006, as the sight of thousands and thousands (20,000) minstrels, young and old, was unforgettable. I kept my promise: Like last year, the 2006 carnival was, again, a bright, colorful, vibrant, eclectic, musical, warm, passionate event in which true Cape culture was represented. Thousands and thousands of minstrels, drum bands, and dancers made their way through the city dressed in colourful outfits and brightly painted faces. They came from all over and around Cape Town, but were mostly from coloured communities like Elsies Riverm, the former District Six, Heideveld, and Mitchell's Plain.The parade starts in the area that used to be host to District Six, moves through the entire city, and ends at Greenpoint Stadium in the suburb of Greenpoint. The Cape Carnival is mainly the tradition of coloured Capetonians (those people of mixed descent) and has roots in the 19th century. The opinions about the origins of the carnival differ. Some claim that until slavery in the Cape was abolished by the Brits in 1834, slaves had their one and only day off per year on the 2nd of January.
Others claim that the Cape Carnival is a tribute to the official abolishment of slavery in the Cape (December 1, 1834), a historic moment that was celebrated by the slaves every year with parades and other festivities. Others again say the carnival is a tribute the white minstrel entertainers, with black-painted faces and brightly coloured outfits, who stopped by in Cape Town on American ocean liners in the late 18th and 19th century. Whatever the story is: When you are in Cape Town during Christmas and New Year's Eve this year, make sure not to miss this spectacular event!
Cape Town, South Africa
January 3, 2006
From journal What to do in Cape Town?