Cape Minstrel Carnival

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The Cape Minstrel Carnival is the current name of the longest existing carnival in South Africa, taking place annually in Cape Town on the 2nd of January (both the date and the carnival itself are often referred to in Afrikaans as Tweede Nuwejaar i.e. "Second New Year" ).

Though both are called the Cape Carnival on occasion, the Cape Minstrel Carnival is not to be confused with the much more recent Cape Town Carnival (2010-), which, while also employing the usual carnival elements, takes place at a different time of the year, was inspired by a recent event, and is basically a public relations exercise with a totally different origin and set of aims, convenes a broader based participating group and eyes another target audience.

For information on minstrelsy in South Africa, see the entry on Minstrels and for more on the concept of carnival and the carnivalesque in South Africa and the various carnivals in the country, see the general entry on Carnival


On the name

The event was originally referred to as the Coon Carnival in English, but also known as the Cape Coon Carnival or The Cape Coons (In Afrikaans: die Kaapse Klopse or simply Die Klopse).

Performers in the carnival were long referred to as Coons in English and Klopse in Afrikaans.

Today the use of the denigrating term Coon has fallen away, though Klopse, which does not carry the baggage of the English term, has remained in use.

There is a strong affiliation with the notion and elements of Mardi Gras in the Cape Town Coon Carnival.

The origins

Origins of the Coons or Klopse

Coons and Coon troupes

Coon troupes (Afrikaans Klopse-troepe, Klopse troepe or simply Troepe) ,

The performance styles

The Coon Festival as event


The term "coon"

The term apparently derives from the word raccoon and was used in America to refer to performers in black-face entertainments, hence also a denigrating term for any black man.

A more recent derivative of the term in the USA has been the term "coonery"[1], which refers to matters such as the antics and behaviour displayed by certain individuals (usually African Americans) which may embarrass the rest of the Black community or reinforce and perpetuate commonly held racial stereotypes about their own community.

While it has other meanings, such as a racial slur for a black person as in the American usage, the term coon is most prominent in South Africa with reference to a performer in the Cape Town Coon Carnival, with its early association with the Christy's Minstrels and other "blackface" performers from America who visited the country and popularized the minstrel tradition in the country.

See for example definitions provided by and


See also Festival

The idea of the carnivalesque

Origins and history

The Coon Carnival in the Cape =

Also known as the Cape Coon Carnival or The Cape Coons (In Afrikaans: die Kaapse Klopse or simply Klopse).

Today the use of Coon has fallen away in the name of the carnival, though Klopse has remained.

Origins of the Coons or Klopse

Coons and Coon troupes

The performance styles

The Coon Festival as event

The influence of the Coon Carnival

The coon carnival as a theme in literary and dramatic works

Sources and links

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