Crowds soak up carnival fever Rio-style

An angler-fish float.

The Cape Town Carnival organisers brought a touch of Rio to this year’s event, which they thought fitting as the idea was born there.

Rio was represented through samba schools from the country, with dancers and an informal band joining the carnival parade, which took place on Saturday March 18 along the Fan Walk in Green Point.

Brightly-coloured floats and performers in bold costumes paraded down the Fan Walk, representing all things from the sea to fit in with the theme “Amaza: Ocean Odyssey.”

The CEO of the Cape Town Carnival, Rachel Jafta, said the inspiration for the events came from a business trip to Rio, where their host invited them to the Rio Carnival. “This is where the seed was planted. We saw all the amazing things that they do in Rio, and, most importantly, how the carnival united the people.”

Speaking to the CapeTowner, she said Cape Town had so many initiatives, but there had been nowhere for them to come together and showcased their talents and diversity. “And the spin-off is that the carnival creates jobs for young people, and provides them with skills. It’s wonderful to see that youngsters are so inspired that they want to start their own community initiatives.”

At the end of the parade was international singer Oshri, who also sang the Cape Town Carnival theme song, Crazy but Free.

This was the first time the remixed version was publicly played.

Oshri, who is originally from Israel but moved to Cape Town a few years ago, told the CapeTowner that he had been on the closing float, so he was the one who everyone had to follow to the party.

Oshri got his big break in music two years ago when he won the Trace Stars competition, then moved to New York under the mentorship of Wyclef Jean, and eventually signed up with Akon.

He said Cape Town Carnival organisers had heard Crazy but Free while he toured South Africa to promote it last year, and they thought it encapsulated the theme of this year’s carnival.

“They asked me to collaborate. The point is to have a song that people can relate to, and Crazy But Free does that.”

Oshri said he had visited the Cape Town Carnival before he left to New York, and was so excited to be part of the event this time.

He said that before he moved to New York, the city centre had been an, “awesome place to hang out, but now, two years later, it is even more awesome”.

He said the growth in the city would hopefully bring lots of music culture to the city centre.

Bruno Tenorio, who represents the Rio Carnival, said samba was big in Brazil, but it had come from Africa. “For us to be here is like coming back to our roots,” he said.

He said the Cape Town Carnival and the Rio Carnival differed in concepts – in Rio, each of the 12 samba schools had to think of a concept and how they would define it, then build a float and costumes around the concept, and parade it through the streets.

“Each samba school has their own factory, where we employ over 300 people who make costumes and floats. The samba dancers here are from different samba schools around Brazil.”

He said the Rio carnival drew millions of people every year. “This is the first time we are in Cape Town for the carnival, and we are very excited. We also tried to share some of our expertise with the organisers, because Rio Carnival has become so successful. We have the experience to share.”

He said the energy of the people in the city was almost the same as those in Brazil. “We are also creating a synergy between the countries through the carnivals and building hope that the Cape Town Carnival can grow from strength to strength and will promote the image of Cape Town and South Africa.”