Eastern Acoustics in conjunction with the City of Cape Town and Knights Caterers & Events brought together an event which, in the words of city events co-ordinator Mariaan Opperman, was “the best we’ve ever hosted”.
The morning of the 23 September 2015 was spent commemorating 7 honourees chosen through a public-inclusive process for the vast impact they have had on the city of Cape Town and its people. Each of these names will be displayed on the 7 footbridges spanning Nelson Mandela Boulevard leaving the CBD: Fr John Oliver, Fr Basil van Rensburg, Taliep Petersen, Tuan Guru, Ingrid Jonker, Dawid Kruiper and |A!kunta. The commemoration proceedings took place in a large marquee set up in Trafalgar Park, Woodstock, quite fittingly at one of the footbridges.
In no small measure, the event’s resounding success was due to the energetic and charismatic performances of the entertaining acts sourced by impresario Aki Khan (Eastern Acoustics). A group so diverse, it included traditional Bushmen riel dancers, songs rendered by Zolani (Freshly Ground) doing an acapella version of Bob Marley’s Redemption song, the Petersen siblings with “Seven Steps of Stone” and a group of young people including Amy Walton and Julanie Kok who performed “Paradise Road” and a multi-cultural rendition of Johannes Kerkorrel’s “Halala”.
In the eclectic mix as well was a Quran recital by Qari Ighsaan Taliep (a descendent of Tuan Guru), emotive poetry readings by Diane Ferris who did Ingrid Jonkers’ historic and goose bump-inducing “Die Kind”, as well as Collin the Bushmen’s dramatic and solemn delivery of his poem “The Shaman’s Spear”, giving a glimpse into the Khoi and San cultures. He also treated those present to his Khoisan Mouth Bow song, a haunting sound reminiscent of the open bush made by tapping a stick on the string of a bow while mouth movements manipulate the sounds coming from it – absolutely fascinating… The riel dancers however, completely stole the show! The fast-paced jitterbug dance moves had nearly everyone young and old on their feet clapping to the beat
Adding a heart-warming private peek into the lives of these icons, pre-recorded interviews with the surviving relatives and descendents were displayed on the large screens above the stage and along both sides of the marquee. Interviews seamlessly aired between each act, brilliantly orchestrated by Eastern Acoustics’ staff – great going guys! A masterful touch on the acoustic side was the EA team’s choice of the D&B sound system – well known for its pure clarity – this made for a truly enoyable visual and aural feast.
Weaving it all together was MC for the event Bulelwa, who on arrival quickly realised she was not going to easily navigate the uneven carpet-covered grass in her stilletos and unceremoniously kicked them off, spending the rest of the morning on and off the stage barefoot – somehow it fit right into the heritage theme of the day! With her infectious, improvisational style she wound up the morning’s proceedings with a quick lesson in the various “click-sounds” used in the languages spoken by so many of our fellow-countrymen and -women and everyone had a great deal of fun mimicing the sounds – adding a light-hearted touch to the solemnity of the days proceedings.
As everyone enjoyed the delicious buffet lunch catered by culinary and decor gurus of the day, Knights Events and Catering, official photo opportunities were held outside the marquee where everyone mingled and it truly was an eclectic bunch of people in traditional dress and modern-day wear …on one side Simone Jonker in deep conversation with the Qari….on the other, the first in line to the Khoi throne, Prince !Ebe digging into what was surely the lunchtine show-stopper of the day: the most heavenly fresh-cream filled chocolate covered profiteroles I have ever tasted – a big chocolate covered thumbs-up to Knights Catering!
Looking back on the morning, Im sure the Malaysian, Dutch, English, Khoi, San and European ancestors had no inkling so many centuries ago, that their descendents would be celebrating their differences in quite such a musical and reconciliatory way as they did today . We celebrate the seven honourees as true “bridge builders” of our nation….halala indeed!