19 December 2012

South Africa: Bring On the Valahalla Park Minstrels!

Photo: Melissa Britz
Cape Town Minstrels

Valhalla Park Entertainers was started in 2002 by Gertrude Square, a community worker from the area. She has been helping youth and seniors in her community for over thirty years.

Square was able to hear groups of entertainers from the Cape Flats performing when she worked at Green Point running food stalls. This inspired her to start a troupe in Valhalla Park. She wanted to get the youth off the streets and away from drugs and gangs.

The team is involved in various competitions at the Good Hope Centre throughout the year in the run-up to the festive season. "So far we have won many troupes and in 2009 we won the Carnival. Last year we managed to win 12 troupes," Square added, "It's not just the music but the people and community that makes Valhalla Community Entertainers a team."

Th biggest event her troupe is involved in is the upcoming Klopse minstrel festival. It is more formally called the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, the event that sees thousands of people take to the streets on 2 January each year daubed in black makeup, wearing bright colours, dancing, singing and playing musical instruments. Square told us, "Our colours for this year are red, green and yellow - being a minstrel is all about being bright and bold."

Square's troupe usually begin to prepare for the festival after Ramadan to respect the Muslims in their team. This year, they also took part in a minstrel walk through Cape Town on 17 December to welcome the festive season and excite people about the New Year's march on 2 January.

Square said, "We are definitely looking forward to the carnival this year. We would like to wish everyone a blessed festive season and hope to see you at the "Tweede Nuwe Jaar" [the second New Year] march in Cape Town on 2 January."

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