The history of Cape Town’s raucous New Year
It’s hard to find a city with a more complicated history than Cape Town, South Africa’s second-largest and one of the continent’s spots most affected by colonialism. Several moments in that long history come crashing together in the city’s annual new year’s celebrations, some of which are still going strong.
Technically, the Cape Town holiday of Tweede Nuwe Jaar, which is Afrikaans (the language used by mostly Dutch descendants of European settlers in South Africa) for “second new year,” takes place on Jan. 2. But it can continue for days or even weeks in some parts of the city. It’s about partying, yes, but also street performances and marches from groups called “Klopses,” face-painted troupes that might look familiar to anyone who has seen Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans.
The story of Tweede Nuwe Jaar goes back to the early Dutch settlers. Specifically, it has to do with the city’s history as a slave trading port. That’s right: This fun, free-wheeling holiday has its roots in the slave trade and in Cape Town’s history as an economic center of colonialism’s worst practices. Dave Mayers, with the CBS-affiliated news site SmartPlanet, runs down the origin of the story as it’s commonly told....
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