Has the coronavirus pandemic really managed to silence one of the biggest cultural phenomena in the world, the Kaapse Klopse and the Cape Malay Choirs?
The usual running order of cultural events on Cape Town’s social calendar is the minstrels walking on Tweede Nuwe Jaar followed by the competition, and then straight into the Malay Choir competition mid-February.
I can’t believe that the Malay choir season just silently passed us by without anyone seemingly even noticing.
No team practices, no klopskamers, nothing!
The sound of banjos and guitars, gummies and karinkels have been silenced in 2021. This is quite sad, not even an online competition, nothing, niks, lutho.
It’s a culture that has been around for over 80 years but still doesn’t have the biggest youth following. Now it just passed us without anybody caring, missing it or trying to keep it going.
When it comes to Klopse, I fully understand the fact that it can’t be done now as teams are huge and the spectators in a stadium reach over 10 000 people.
For the Malay choirs, it’s quite different as most singpakke are about 50 members max, so with us moving down to level one of lockdown, it could possibly still have been done.
But I do understand that most of the members are old and the risk of them contracting the virus is too high, so I respect the fact that the Malay choirs accepted that they have simply been defeated by something bigger than their love of the culture.
However, what does this mean for the Malay choir community, what with the vaccine still being rolled out and many people refusing to take it. Then there is talk of a third wave of Covid-19 in May.
In my opinion, the pandemic will only subside by the end of this year, but even so, it still means that no practices will be able to take place and quite possibly 2022 will also see the cancellation of these unique Cape cultural events.
This would mean that should the virus be completely under control by 2022, a possible Minstrels and Malay choir season will only take place in 2023.
Two years is a very long time and at the pace that the world is moving technologically, there might just be something completely new by then.
That is what we are faced with when we don’t move with the times and reinvent ourselves.
It is a sad reality that although the online market is dipping when it comes to sales, it still helps one to stay relevant and perhaps they should have moved to an online competition or even just explore the possibilities of one in 2022.
To many people out there, the culture of Malay choirs does not mean much, but it captures an important part of our history and heritage.
It is also a form of income for many musicians, coaches and singers and if the boards don’t manage to keep it alive, then it will affect many financially.
The pandemic has already forced many musicians to sell their instruments, and for coaches to go out and find alternate sources of income.
The question now is, did the boards do enough for the artists and performers during this tough period to maintain their loyalty?
I am not referring to the teams who have always had to take care of their members.
I don’t see any kind of drive by the boards to the clubs filtering down to the members, musicians and coaches.
I mean, many of these men have invested their time, energy and creativity into the boards over the years, which made them look good and money was made.
Perhaps this setback is a chance for the ouens running the show to pay it forward and create an urgency for their return.
After all, the Malay choirs are about brotherhood, so let’s use this “downtime” to take care of those brothers who need our help, especially struggling musicians and artists.
It’s strange how the season passed and nobody cared.
The old people used to say, as jy vergiet van my, dan gaan ek vergiet van jou.
It’s time for that sense of brotherhood and love for each other to return within our fraternity, and not wait to reach out and check on our people only when the season kicks in.