The Ides of a Marching Parade: the Cape Town Carnival
It’s the festival of the Ides of March in Ancient Rome and you’re sticking out on the sidelines of a grand parade as it snakes its way along the Via Sacra up towards its destination; atop the Capitolina (the Capitoline Hill). As the procession reaches the citadel your attention is drawn to a lonely sheep as it’s been fetched up to an altar by the high priest. You cringe as you realise it’s about to be sacrificed – the torture of an animal has never sat easily with you. You then see an elderly man dressed in animal skins as he’s beaten and carried out of the city gates. Your instincts tell you he is being exiled from the city, but you can’t be sure. The only thing you are sure of is the time, and it’s late, but before go you look up only to see it’s a full moon.
It was in fact nothing more than a scenario I had acted out over and over again in my head after checking the time on my cell phone while looking upwards to the evening sky. The same glowing white ball – my ancient self had been so captivated by – sat unhinged as I had started to attend the Cape Town Carnival in a novel luminosity.
To begin with, my photographer Nomadic Bug and I had worked our way along the fan walk to Somerset Road in Green Point to view this Rio inspired festival. Every bit we come to the main strip though, the first feeling of tension had begun to raise its ugly head. In the shape of a human traffic jam that is, and it was to be an introduction, we had to amicably brace ourselves for.
And then it dawned on me as we pushed our way through the crowd. It was as if the pull of the full moon had brought out what I would like to address as the “pagan instinct” in the bunch, but before I could deliberate over it we finally managed to go through.
At whatever rate the sight of a matchbox lion chasing down a herd of cycling zebras quickly absolved all previous infractions. Indeed, once the troupe of hoodoo warriors pulled a colossal Ouroboros past us I was gobsmacked. And if that’s not enough then one of my personal favourites, a gargantuan sized crocodile, complete with a performer standing in the mouthpiece would have sufficed. But it didn’t stop there as a towering alien robot – of the like never before seen in Cape Town – made its way to presumably slay the aforementioned croc.
As a result of this the parade was in a nutshell sublime. An experience harking back to an age where military Triumphs made their way through the city in order to pay tribute under a full moon. But in reality the Carnival was nothing more than a street filled with a menagerie of paper Mache animals and live performers all marching in circles. However, and interestingly enough it was under this same full moon – on a day known no less as the Ides of March – that a certain historical figure was slain, and than divinised to godly status just over 2000 years ago; Julius Caesar. But for what it’s worth, it was always associated with celebrations and parades. A fact I’m sure the organisers would’ve have known.
And like the Romans, the Carnival was also a platform for its ideals, and those ideals as quoted off of the Carnivals website “although different and diverse we cohere in a single identity” were somewhat similar to theirs. But unlike the Romans it was a solemn affair and the customs a lot friendlier toward elderly folk. A deal I could attest to as the only sacrifices made were in the labour of art and multi faceted indifference while the elderly, instead of being chased and beating, were being embraced as they whirled and danced along with the parade.
But looking back up to the full moon, one thing was for sure; nothing has changed just the execution.
By Slippery Joe Lyzard © (Writer for Nomadic Existence)
Photography: Nomadic Bug ©
Nomadic Existence 2015 ©
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