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Cape Town Carnival promises Lekker time for all
Author: Daniel Bugan
Published: 26/02/2024

​In a spectacular display of colour, creativity and diversity during a recent media launch, the Cape Town Carnival wooed its guests with a taste of what they can expect when the event kicks off on 16 March 2024 along the iconic Green Point Fan Walk.

The Cape Town Carnival is a registered social impact initiative under the leadership of the Stellenbosch University (SU) Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) faculty member Professor Rachel Jafta. Jafta is also the founder and the chair of the board of trustees of the Cape Town Carnival. Craig Lemboe at the SU Bureau for Economic Research is a founding trustee.

This year, more than 1 000 performers from various communities across the province will take part in the festivities by designing floats, making costumes, synchronising moves, and perfecting melodies.

The media launch, which took place in January, drew guests, from among others, the City of Cape Town, the National Department of Sport Arts & Culture, Multichoice and Wesgro. They were treated to enthusiastic dancers depicting fantastical worlds such as a deep sea brimming with mythical creatures, a world made entirely of sweets and vibrant landscapes of feathers and fynbos.

Cape Carnival Lekker

Jay Douwes, CEO of Cape Town Carnival, revealed the theme for this year’s carnival – Lekker – an old South African chestnut.

“It became very clear this year that people wanted something light and fun that represents who we are and what matters to us. And what matters most to Capetonians is our diverse people, rich culture, undeniable beauty and knee slapping sense of humour. So Lekker is really a feeling that we want to evoke through the carnival. The word describes so much of what makes Cape Town and indeed South Africa special,” said Douwes.

Jafta described the Cape Town Carnival as a beautifully layered phenomenon that not only brings a lot of joy, but also contributes to the local economy and enhances skills development.

“Yes, the money people spend in the run-up to the event and on the night of the event and all the jobs that have been created in the short term are very important, but the carnival is also a place where someone can come off the street with absolutely no skills and be given the opportunity to learn skills and put them into practice. These are durable impacts.”

Professor Rachel Jafta

She added: “But the beauty of it all is the social cohesion (that this event creates). Our communities in the Cape Town Carnival take care of each other across all the diversity and boundaries that were imposed many years ago. And that for me is the long-term impact of the Cape Town Carnival.”

City of Cape Town Acting Mayor Eddie Andrews said they are proud to be a partner of the Cape Town Carnival as it plays an important role in attracting investment.

“We’d like to position Cape Town as a city of hope responding to poverty, inequality and unemployment. Events like the Cape Town Carnival not only attract locals but also national and international guests. They come to Cape Town to attend the carnival, stay at our hotels, spend money at our eateries and support our informal traders. That economic injection is important to us because the economy can then grow.”

Cape Carnival dancers

Sibusiso Sakayi, a Cape Town Carnival performance facilitator, explained that he could never have imagined securing this position. Sakayi, who has always been passionate about the arts, said he started out attending the carnival as a spectator seven years ago.

“I waved at all the performers as I attended the carnival in 2016, 2017, and 2018. In 2019, I joined an organisation and little did I know that they were involved in the Cape Town Carnival. The Cape Town Carnival saw talent in me and even granted me the opportunity to go to Hong Kong.”

“This has been a dream come true for me because I started off just as an audience member, but now I am the choreographer and performance facilitator for the Cape Town Carnival.”

The skills Sakayi acquired there also empowered him to head up an organisation called Ithonga Lethu based in Gugulethu, which teaches youth drama, arts and indigenous music.

Cape Carnival grou

The Cape Town Carnival is sponsored by the Western Cape Government, City of Cape Town, KFM 94.5, Southern Sun, DSTV, MultiChoice, Naspers, the National Department of Arts, Culture and Sport and the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport. People’s Post and Media24 are the print sponsors of the event.