Cape Town Carnival returns to Fan Walk with new Afr’Energy

Performers at the Cape Town Carnival launch gave audiences a taste of what to expect at the street event in March.

With only two months to go until the Cape Town Carnival, organisers announced the event’s theme, Afr’Energy, on Thursday January 19 at a rooftop venue in the city centre.

The carnival will see colourful floats, costumes and groups dancing and singing on the Fan Walk and on Somerset Road in Green Point on Saturday March 18.

Performer Bandile Skweyiya at the Cape Town Carnival launch.

Along with a number of individual performers, 48 community groups, ranging from Masiphumelele drummers to the Western Province Marching Band, firefighters, and Cape Town Pride from across the city will take part in the parade.

Another performance group representing the country’s animals.

The 2023 theme of Afr’Energy symbolises the sense of reinvigoration that is being felt across the city after the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, said carnival director Rachel Jafta.

She said a week before the Cape Town Carnival was set to happen in 2020, the national lockdown was implemented, and the carnival could not take place until last year.

However, last year the carnival was held at five access controlled areas across the city centre, with social distancing protocols in place.

This year, the carnival will resume its traditional format.

Ms Jafta said during the lockdown, the artists and crew continued to work and practise so that they could be ready for the day the carnival returned to the streets of Cape Town. “We are overjoyed that we will have a carnival at the Fan Walk and we extend a huge invitation to anyone who hasn’t experienced the magic yet.”

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said the carnival teams have put lots of work and effort to get the show on the road after the lockdown, and it was exciting that “one of Cape Town’s best events” would be back in full format.

He added that Cape Town’s event calendar was filling up fast, bringing renewed energy to the city. “This festive season, since November 2022, we’ve had just shy of one million people coming into the city. That shows that the terrible disruption of the last four years is behind us. Cape Town is back with a bang!”

The marching band will also feature at the event.

The MEC for sport and cultural affairs, Anroux Marais, said as Cape Town prepares for the carnival, it brings excitement to the city.

She said the carnival was a true symbol of social inclusion and creates a space for creativity – something that should be cultivated to keep communities interesting.

“The Cape Town Carnival is one of these spaces that allows our youth to see the possibility of the creative sector. While our young creatives are able to display their skills in the parade, it is also a joyous experience to see young people watching the event and see their faces light up. This is how we show the power of the arts sector.”

She said engaging in spaces like these allow people to be their authentic selves, and that creativity transforms people. “The Cape Town Carnival is one of those places the youth can see the fruit of their labours. It brings them a space to express their talent and allows them to dream.

Vocalist Nomawethu Sitsholwana with performance director Tracey Carter

“The art sector brings so much hope. Our country is going through a difficult time and this brings a space where people can forget real life for a little while and get swept up in the magic of the carnival.”

Maluva Gandiwa, who is the construction team leader at the carnival, said he was introduced to the carnival crew in 2012. Since he had no skills, he started out as a cleaner at the warehouse. Through the years, he was taught skills such as carpentry, the use of power tools,among others.

He said Cape Town Carnival was more than an event, it was like a school, which taught him all he needed to become the construction team leader. “This carnival is a passion for the youth, as it is for me. During lockdown, we were heartbroken that the carnival was put on hold because we work hard to produce what people get to see. The carnival is a sense of hope – it saved me from the streets. My dream is that the event provides more opportunities for the youth, just like it did for me.”

At the launch, performers gave audiences a taste of what to expect at the event, with a few groups singing and dancing in their costumes.

Entry to the event, which takes place on Saturday March 18, at 6pm, is free, but tickets will also be available for seats in stands along the parade route.

Tickets for Cape Town Carnival can be bought from Quicket.

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