Safaris & stories
Africa Geographic
Wildlife . People . Travel
Shenton Safaris

Cape Town celebrates New Year with a banjo-picking musical parade.

Thousands of minstrel groups garbed in garishly bright costumes perform across the city bowl. Known locally as the Kaapse Klopse, the carnival has its origin in the days of slavery when citizens of District Six were allowed their one day off a year. The white painted faces, satin sequins and glitter are rumoured to originate from visiting American minstrels who stopped off over a century ago aboard ocean liners.


If you miss out on the day parade, you can still watch the minstrels in the month long competition that follows. Every Saturday night at various stadiums across the Mother City, the umbrella-flourishing, trumpeting crooners are judged on their group costume, song and dance. It’s an experience to get your foot tapping and spirits high.

Mama Goema: The Cape Town Beat in Five Movements (2011) is a multinational documentary film about the Cape Minstrels and their music, by Ángela Ramirez (Colombia), Sara Gouveia (Portugal) and Calum MacNaughton (South Africa).

“A journey to the heart of the Mother City and a beat called Goema. With indigenous roots, colonial influences and shaped by Cape Town’s slave history, Goema’s blueprint lies in the city’s carnival culture. It is from these traditional festivities that contemporary variations have emerged in the form of defiant rock marking the collapse of apartheid and healing jazz in the wake of South Africa’s democratic rebirth. Mama Goema charts the evolution of Goema through composer Mac McKenzie, multi-instrumentalist Hilton Schilder and a cast of Cape Town’s diverse musicians and sees the city’s most representative sound take a bold step into the future.”

Festivals & Awards:

Encounters International Documentary Film Festival 2011
Runner-Up: Audience Award for Best Local Film (Link)
Tri Continental Film Festival 2011
Winner: Audience Award for Best Feature Length Documentary (Link)
Sound on Screen Film Festival 2011
Official Selection (Link)

Travel info

When: 1st January, the main parade begins at midday.

Where: The parade begins in Darling Street, in front of the City Hall, and passes through Bo-Kaap en route to Green Point Stadium

Contact: Cape Town Tourism. Tel +27 (0)21 405 500,  web.





I’m Holly - born and raised in the rural British Counties, my mother began life on a sugar farm in Zululand. After reading Anthropology at university in London, working for a political activist filmmaker in India, and doing a short stint under the bright lights of Bollywood – I decided it was time to return to the motherland. To earn a crust in the name of wanderlust, I finished up a post grad in media and hotfooted around South Africa as a freelance travel journalist.