Tweede Nuwe Jaar through Dutch eyes

Gepubliceerd in de Atlantic Sun en de Athlone News, katernen van de Cape Times, één van de twee grootste kranten van Kaapstad, Zuid-Afrika.

 

 

Kevin Hijne, a first-time visitor to our shores and a fourth-year journalism student at the Hogeschool Utrecht, in the Netherlands, of the Mother City’s biggest party.

I may not know anything about the history of the Cape Town Street Parade, Tweede Nuwe Jaar or the minstrels, but I can tell when people are having a good time. In Dutch, it is referred to as ‘jolijt, meaning joy and happiness. I may speak a different language, but the translation is not lost on me. From what I saw is pretty much the same in any language…

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Ghoema drums being slammed on, colours as far as the eye can see and hundreds of people watching from the sidewalks. The Kaapse Klopse is really something special to attend for someone who has never seen anything like it before. As freedom has always been normal to me, it is and/or was not for Capetonians during Apartheid, slavery and times of segregation. On the second of January you can feel the joy within the participants and spectators. A parade of existence and freedom in the Mother City. A celebration rooted in the mid-nineteenth century, when slaves got one day off from their masters on the January 2.

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This year more than thirteen thousand Minstrels in over seventy troops walked from District Six to the City Centre. A symbolic place to start, thinking of the destruction that took place here in the Apartheid era. Large numbers of residents were removed from this area of Cape Town. Back in the day District Six was a community of former slaves, Cape Malays and Xhosa. Right now, with the Apartheid gone, people can roam the streets, whenever and wherever they want.

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Knowing the Dutch bear responsibility for slavery during the Colonial era, people came to me saying they really appreciate me attending the Kaapse Klopse. “Where are you from?”, asked one of the minstrels. “The Netherlands”, I replied. “Thank you for being here. Thank you for celebrating freedom with us.” Heartfelt happiness and a candid feeling of freedom came from him.

This parade is incomparable to anything in Dutch culture. Regarding differences in culture and history, it was very interesting and fascinating for a 21-year old Dutch guy to see Capetonian culture at on of its highest point. I have always lived in freedom, so I can’t say that I understand what things like segregation, slavery and Apartheid really feel like. Only people that actually experienced things like that, get to say something about it. People that didn’t have to do anything with it or did not experience it the way affected people did, should listen and have respect.

I can imagine that it’s heinous. That it’s monstrous. That it hurts people. I’m happy for Capetonians that they can celebrate their freedom and existence freely on the streets without any ado. Without any restrictions.

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