Wordtravels

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Cape Town Minstrel Carnival

Every New Year, thousands of minstrels take to the streets of Cape Town in a dazzling display of colourful satin uniforms, shiny parasols, painted faces and foot-tapping banjo tunes that accompany the traditional folk songs, many of Cape Malay origin. The parade is known colloquially as the 'Coon Carnival' ('coon' referring to a member of a minstrel troupe) among the predominately Afrikaans-speaking 'coloured' community who make up the majority of the performers ('coloured' is not a pejorative term in South Africa; it refers to mixed-race locals and is used by the communities themselves). The traditional event has its origins in the 19th century when minstrel entertainers on American cruise ships stopped off in Cape Town; their sounds and styles were incorporated into the New Year festivals of the newly freed Malay slaves. The Carnival begins in the New Year and the festivities continue into January with extravagant street parades; singing, dancing, costume competitions and marches through the streets from the central city area of District Six. The 2nd of January is called Tweede Nuwe Jaar (Second New Year) in the Cape of South Africa and is a kind of unofficial public holiday for most of the city.

Venue: Streets of Cape Town and Greenpoint Stadium

Date: January 2015 TBA