Last Friday I found myself at the Castle of Good Hope for the official launch of the partnership between the Kaapse Klopse Karnival Association, MTN and Samsung for the Cape Town Street Parade.
It was also the official opening of Carnival Season 2020.
This felt like an important event to me, and I found myself in the lucky position of being asked to be the Master of Ceremonies.
The room was filled with media, klopse owners, directors from the boards of the KKKA, MTN and Samsung, as well as several City of Cape Town councillors.
There were also top notch performances by singers Madheega Anders, Faghrie Isaacs and the West London All Stars band.
So what was this big occasion all about?
Well, MTN has opened up its coffers to the Kaapse klopse and presented us with an opportunity to make a klopse CD and videos, which will be launched on all their digital platforms worldwide, from where people can download it.
Over the years, we have created our ghoema liedjies, written hundreds of moppies and songs about our culture, yet it never got the proper exposure and was never a true source of income, as is the case with commercial music, for example.
Many of our greatest writers and performers have died poor, yet they have gifted us with evergreen words and melodies that have brought much joy to our hearts.
Up till now, this was just shared among us in our own little bubble.
So while we have legends in our midst, it does not necessarily mean they are rich or even living a comfortable life.
People always say the culture is not about money or making money.
But what about those individuals who invest their entire lives into this culture? Should they remain poor, or forever hustle for the next buck, even when they are blessed with such great talent?
I always ask the question: why, if Cape Town is the home of ghoema music, does one not hear it on local radio stations more frequently?
After all, it is the sound that gets thousands jolling come the Street Parade.
This opportunity by the KKKA and MTN for me represents the beginning of change when we will no longer have to compromise on our language or sound, because there is now a marketable platform for us to play our music and tell our stories in our own way, while creating a sustainable income for everyone involved.
At the launch, there were some discussions about who the carnival belongs to, and once again it was made clear by City councillor Mzwakhe Nqavashe that “it belongs to the people”, and rightfully so.
Many tend to argue that the klopse is not the same anymore, that it’s becoming about money and politics, but as someone who has spent many years as part of this fraternity, I say to them: why not?
It is time that we treat our culture with the respect it deserves, and not just give it away for free, while other institutions and festivals benefit monetarily.
The klopse is the biggest cultural festival in Africa.
On Sunday, it was the official switching on of the festive lights in the city, and some artists performing here can easily charge R60 000 and more, including flights and accommodation.
Now compare the cost of this spectacle to what the klopse are getting from the City, yet we have people within the fraternity saying why is the City giving the klopse “so much money”.
Listen, if the City does not give this money to the klopse, it will simply go to another event.
We stand in klopskamers and respect our coaches, but did you know that sometimes our coaches, writers and singers don’t even have electricity in their homes?
But we worry and insist that this culture must not become about money or bringing in corporate funding.
I see a bright future for the carnival and our music.
Our generation may not get to enjoy the benefits, but our children and their children might, if we all support it.
And maybe they will be able to treat our music as a job, just like the Afrikaans pop stars like Kurt Darren and Bobby van Jaarsveld.
For me, the key to unlocking that financial stream was always for corporate businesses and mainstream radio stations to invest in our growth and sustainability.
So, yes, I am all for this new partnership.
The KKKA is now finishing a CD which will have a theme song for the 2020 carnival, as well as old and new songs of klopse teams.
There is still time to submit a song or two for this album should you be interested.
We are no longer working just for name and fame, we are working towards building and leaving behind a lasting legacy.
It is up to our supporters and the new generation of klopse to keep this dream alive.
Tickets for the 2020 Carnival are already on sale at Computicket, so get yours now.