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10th Annual Cape Town Steelband Festival

5 June 2017

The sounds of the steelpan reverberated in Cape Town, South Africa on May 11, 2017 as students, young people and steelpan enthusiasts took to the stage at the 10th Annual Steelband Festival, held at the Baxter Theatre Complex, University of Cape Town, South Africa. Nine bands from local schools and communities across the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces performed for a large gathering. 

The Festival was supported by His Excellency Roger Gopaul, High Commissioner for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to South Africa (pictured addressing the audience), who delivered remarks to the audience.  In highlighting the humble origins and the global spread of Trinidad and Tobago's national instrument, High Commissioner Gopaul underscored the example that the young steelpan players in South Africa represented to the wider society and the inexorable link to Trinidad and Tobago.


Despite the growing interest in the steelpan across South Africa, very few people are aware of the origins of the steelpan in Trinidad and Tobago.  The steelpan was introduced to South Africa in the late sixties by a South African ethnomusicologist.  The timing of the arrival of the instrument, during the apartheid era, may account for the relative isolation in which it was developed in South Africa.  Over the years, a committed following has developed across the country.  Apart from the Western Cape, Steelpan supporters can be found in the provinces of Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal.



The Cape Town Steelband Festival is a joint venture between the Cape Town Big Band Jazz Festival and the Steelband Project.  The Steelband Project, Western Cape, was established in 1997.  The project was set up to provide quality music education to young people, particularly those originating from under resourced communities and “youth at risk.”  There are currently sixteen (16) bands being covered by the project.

The High Commission of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is directing efforts towards raising the profile of the instrument, and by extension the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in South Africa.  The High Commissioner took the opportunity to meet with key stakeholders across the Province involved with the steelpan, who have embraced the instrument.




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