•• Imagining Identity! Re-Imagining Carnival in Cape Town 2012

A Hasan and Husain Essop photography project in partnership with the District Six Museum and the ArtPeaceProject/University of Hamburg

Sponsored by the Goethe Institut Johannesburg
September 2012 in Cape Town


A workshop over one weekend at the District Six Museum with young people from different communities in and around Cape Town. The District Six as our cooperator implemented the project as part of the Baluleka! Youth Network Programm that follows a similar learning approach of collaboration, exploration, discovery and re-imagination.
The use of culture as resistance and for community can be traced back in Cape Town to the arrival of the colonists. The Minstrels (or Coon) Carnival has since then continued as an important site of contestation for working-class people. Its roots can be traced to spaces which slaves created to find meaning and to build community, using music and dance. Carnival troupes are part of a broader tradition of community mobilization in the Cape which was prevalent in places like District Six. The idea of carnival offers to play, to leave old-established roles, to revolt against the dominant order, and to capture new space!


Andie, Tazneem

His picture has 2 central characters, “SLAVERY” & “CELEBRATION”. In this scene they can be seen moving from pillar to pillar, but never really making contact or colliding. It´s a statement saying, slavery & celebration can´t live in existence.

We chose to make use of elements/fragments of carnival to refabricate / reframe a scene of villains of history and heroes of time. Also, we made use of the memorial as a podium of remembering / forgetting / engaging with a past of winners and losers / what gets “written” in and left out. This links to the speech bubbles in which we framed text & words “celebration” and “slavery”, a way of visually engaging with one of history. The power dynamics to write yourself / archive history in concrete and stone. Also playing with or the emphasis on the textual archive opposed to the spoken, the oral as historical. Relating back to carnival, we chose to develop characters, masks, to engage with space.


Thoroughfare of Space & Time

Tebuo Makoetlane, Chadwyn Matthews, Grant Jurius

Dealing with the perception & stigma that goes with carnival also what its reaim about & the journey the carnival has made through time.


Still I Rise

Asanda Ngaba, Scott Williams, Ramazani Senda

This piece makes reference to the Coon Carnival, slavery and the transition from past to present. The makeshift nature of the boards resemble public protest placards with statements referring to the past and the actions of slaves as well as the current positive outlook on ourselves.

The statements on the placards are stanzas from asanda mgaba (one of our contributors) petry. We felt they related strongly to our central themes. The vibrant colors in the symbolic chains od slavery, the posters and our clothing were inspired by the jubilant protest of the coon carnival.



Khayelethu Ndolela, Chanell Oliphant, Sameerah Mollagee

Our picture shows how Fashion can be inter-linked with the Klopse-Culture, with certain elements being fashion and other elements being klops.

The DNA linked to our ankles shows that we are all inter-linked, we all have slave blood and that we are all in fact slaves to fashion, thus it deals with “commercialisation of culture”, “fashion”, “metaphorical connection through history”.

The picture deals with many aspects, art, fashion, culture, history and heritage which shows how they are all combined.

The picture we took, we wanted to show how Carnival is part of society through a fashion shoot, using 3 key elements of carnival like an umbrella, bow tie & a hat. It deals with art, fashion, culture, history and heritage through the location it was shot at, in our different poses. Yet it is open to different interpretations. The DNA that has connected at our legs indicates how we all are connected through not only blood but history as well yet it could also mean the “slave to fashion”, “capitalism”, “ commercialization of history, culture and heritage”.


Khayalethu Ndolela


I am the young Klopse. I smile with my soil of District Six. The brown green life of hope and the dusty happiness of joy of freedom.

I´m not a slave any more.

I dance and jump with my umbrella that gives me solutions of life.

My grandmother fought and gave me revolutionary thought.

My grandfather fought and gave me the history of the Klopse.

I´m the young Klopse.


Stairs of Oppression

Lusapho Hlatshaneni, Thomas Mitchell, Nthabiseng Lerotholi

Celebrating the spaces that once caused pain, “Reclaiming the city”

We chose our performance and space because we wanted to show the progression made from the time of slavery to the emancipation of slaves. By performing in front of the building that used to hold female slaves and our performance being carnival which originated in celebrating of the freedom of slaves.


It’s a Cycle of Life

Tharaah, Keasha, Lee

Developing 3 different stages in life and by using the stairs as it emphasizes the levels from slavery, moving towards the Klopse (celebration) and going into modern life. We´re calling it the “Cycle of Life” because once you´re an ordinary person/working person (rich or poor) you go back to being a slave in order to make a living. So you don´t have to be a low life in order to be part of the Klopse.

“Life is a memory, the picture is the words being spoken”

“Some people live in a life of the past, not realizing that the future is still to come and that ow is greater than all times could be”





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