Trumpets and colors return to Cape Town carnival

A tambourine in hand and a pacifier in his mouth, two-year-old Thaakir Buzic is ready to join brightly colored bands parading through the streets of Cape Town, in South Africa.

About 20,000 performers divided in dozens of troupes were to march in the city center yesterday while playing music and dancing for the annual Cape Town Minstrel carnival. 

Also known as "Tweede Nuwe Jaar" ("Second New Year"), the celebration, which returns after a two-year COVID-induced break, is a family affair for Buzic's relatives.

The boy is going to be the youngest of 13 family members, led by his 68-year-old great great aunt to take part in the parade, as dancers for the 1,000-strong Playaz Inc troupe. 

Dressed in the band's distinctive green and white colors, Buzic bounced from one leg to the other as brass players rehearsed outdoors at a school in Mitchells Plain, near Cape Town, on New Year's Eve.

"It's in the troupes that my parents met. I was born into it, the same goes with my kids and my grand-kids," said his grandmother, Sadia Daniels, 40, who has not missed a parade since she was born."Only the lockdown could keep us away from it ... this year we're back on track."

The festivity has its roots in colonial times, when slaves were allowed to relax on the day after New Year's Day.

It's now seen as a celebration of the Cape's diverse culture and marks the start of a weeks-long competition where minstrels battle it out for the title of best troupe.

In impoverished, crime-ridden communities with high unemployment rates, for some joining a band offers a way out. 

"The biggest thing for us is to keep the youngsters occupied. It takes them away from all the ills from our neighborhoods," said Raeed Gallant, 35, co-director...

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