Time's up for Cape Town's Anti-Slavery Festival?

Uploaded by TheVJMovement on 11.04.2011

Through January Cape Town comes alive with the Cape Town Minstrels or “Die Kaapse Klopse.”
But don't expect another Mardi Gras or Carnival in Rio. The festive tradition dates back to the time of slavery.
To this day, it's mainly the working class communities on the Cape Flats
who participate to vent their socio-economic dilemmas.
The reason why we are celebrating this, we were slaves right and we only got
one, one day to celebrate this, working the whole year and get one day to go and
have a celebration.
They painted their faces so that their slave-masters could not recognize them.
The reason why, they just had black and white because you know the charcoal from the fire
there was that white piece and there was that black piece
and that was all, that was all. Now these days you've got green,
you've got blue, you've got yellow, you can do whatever color you want to.
The minstrel is one way of telling and reminding us that we were slaves once,
and part of the dancing is a gesture that says whatever you've done to us,
whatever you threaten us with under slavery, still we stand, whatever you
deny us, still we dance to the God of the universe, it's an assertion
of joyfulness against everything that antagonizes our humanity.
The carnival means a lot for me because.... I will spend my life savings
on the carnival, it's something that will be there.
I was five years old when my dad put me in a minstrel outfit.
Obviously my son and everybody, my daughters, they are all in this game.
So obviously even if I die now they are going to go on with this thing.
But somebody wants to stop this, and we cannot allow that.
Tradition holds that the “klopse” walks through the city centre to the Bo-Kaap or upper town,
a place of cultural heritage to people of color.
However, this year realtors seeking to reap the economic rewards of a rapidly gentrifying Bo-Kaap
in wake of the 2010 World Cup are painting klopses as disruptive
and have prevented them from parading in the Bo-Kaap.
It is our culture to walk in the streets. It comes from the years of slavery.
They could walk freely on New Years Day, now they are taking that away from us.
Now we feel like slaves. We can't parade where we want to,
we can't perform where we want to. The racism has not gone away.
The irony and almost cynical nature of what's happening in our city is that
the minstrels are particularly used around election time, around politicking,
they are brought in, and all political parties
contesting for the "colored" vote particularly use the minstrels,
and so the minstrels are almost part of the soundtrack that
accompanies elections, and so why should they then be
silenced at this point of the year that the very time of the year that gives
rise to their origin.
Last year we were stopped by the police, the band striked there by the cafe in
Rose, yes Rose Corner, Rose Street, just around the corner there
in about three minutes the police were there.
"You cannot walk here anymore, you cannot walk here anymore."
Who said so? No, the government.
The minstrels can't walk during the months as they previously
did in the city. Soon they will say they don't want any
minstrels in the city. All the minstrels must be on the
outskirts. This is what happened in District Six, they moved the people
out and we could not live there anymore. The same thing is happening now,
It's history repeating itself.
The forced removals were the consequence of the Group Areas Act. It was promulgated
in 1959, a few years after the National Party came into power, a party that was very
supportive of Nazi Germany, and in 1948 they took power on a ticket of white
power, of white privilege, and the consequence of that ideology was
displacement, sanitizing, it was a form of early ethnic cleansing of
driving people of color out of what was declared white areas, but it also
served to dislocate us from the place that gave birth to a certain culture.
I'm a worker working the whole year. If it comes this time of the year
then I am free, my holiday is actually the time I want to be with
the minstrels, so you put everything in.
How free are we really? How free have we become?
When we are even at this moment, when we just ask for a moment's inclusion in
the calendar of this city, we are denied. And I think it's a sad indictment on our
democracy and the current office bearers of our city.