Choir kings of the Castle

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May 4, 2017
Choir kings of the Castle

ON FLEEK: Ottomans' performance was superb at Cape Malay Choir Board Top 10 competition

The Cape Malay Choir Board’s Top 10 competition which took place at the Castle of Good Hope last Saturday turned out to be the most innovative event produced by the CMCB in the history of this much-loved Kaapse cultural tradition.

It is no secret at all that our choirs were faced with a huge dilemma, which was to find a venue, but it once again proves that the one above is in control and not politicians when, by mere fate, they were left with no other alternative but to settle for the Castle.

And it birthed one of the most exciting events to hit Cape Town in ages… Die Kaap se Maleierkore binne innie kasteel! Take that, Jan van Riebeeck!

The biggest challenge faced, of course, was the weather because surely one can’t host an open-air choral competition en die wind waai soe hard dat jou gums glad droeg trek, but iemand moet hard du’ah gemaaket.

Because in the middle of April, we had one of the clearest nights in Kaapstad.

There was no wind, almal se hare het in style gebly and under the 2 000-seater marquee was die singery on fleek.

When I happened to speak to the CMCB delegates, I could sense the pride these manne took in this huge accomplishment.

The CMCB leaders said that since they were chucked out of the Good Hope Centre, they had visited 29 venues in the Cape and it finally felt like they have found a new home.

The president of the CMCB, Boeta Shafiek April, said: “Ons het die mayor geinvite maar sy hettie gekommie.” Hai nee man, Auntie Pat.

Nevertheless, with or without the Madam Mayor in attendance, our community was prospering. There was stalletjies regom die Castle and they were sold out before the end of the evening.

I remember thinking that the only thing that could perhaps put a damper on this highly successful competition was the results, because these ouens play the game hard, hulle kommie mettie lag nie, everyone puts in a huge amount of effort en almal glo hulle moet wen.

But at the end of the day, as it is with all competitions, there can only be one winner, and on the night, it was the inimitable Shoprite Jonge Studente.

Slamat ouens. Julle is die Top 10 champions vir 2017!

The song that stuck in my mind was the rendition of the combine chorus the Ottomans singkoor gave of my moeder.

For some reason I could not forget it. A different approach to the usual Ottomans style of combine singing, but yet still touching.

Whenever I watch this amazing choir, I always say the words: “Nai daar issie vir Boy nie”… Boeta Boy, Abduraghmaan Davids, the legendary combine coach of the Ottomans.

I even said those words on the eve of the Top 10 competition.

Little did all of us know that on that night in the Castle of Good Hope, it would be the last combine we would ever hear, which was newly composed by one of our biggest Cape Malay choir heroes.

The king of the combine chorus sadly bowed out a few days later and got a hero’s send-off as thousands of friends, family and choir members flocked to his kiefayt to pay their respect.

As they carried him to the mosque, I saw the younger members of the Ottomans all taking turns to carry their hero towards his final resting place with tears streaming down their faces.

I thought to myself that we lost gold that day, we lost a man who inspired young and old, who was loved by his peers and colleagues, who dedicated his life to the CMCB and who remained humble even though he was a king in the eyes of many.

We will miss you, Boeta Boy, we will remember you, we will celebrate your legacy.

Thank you for all you have given us, taught us and shared with us.

I recall him saying about the last harmonies that he arranged for my Afrikaans moppie for the klopse, “is amper soes dai harmonies uitie Jannah uitkom”.

May he be granted jannah Ameen.

With that said, the Malay choir season comes to an end this weekend.

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