by IOL, 15 August 2011

Hundreds of colourfully painted faces made their way through Pretoria’s city centre at the weekend as part of the Tshwane Leadership Foundation Feast of the Clowns march.

“Today is about celebrating the city and its diversity, as well as creating awareness of homelessness and domestic violence. The feast is also a comment on the happiness and sadness of the world, which is why we have happy and sad clowns,” said the foundation’s chief executive, Stephan de Beer.

Every citizen has a role to play in raising awareness of these issues, he said. “We cannot hope that the government or businesses will do it. We all must participate.”

The annual event has been inspired by the centuries-old Feast of Fools, during which ordinary citizens would for one day be treated as kings, and vice-versa.

“This shows that we’re all human beings, powerful or powerless,” he said.

Along with the army of clowns, people from various townships walked through the streets to the tune of the Field Band Foundation’s drums and horns, some in traditional Zulu outfits and others wearing kilts and purple church robes.

“The event is growing compared to previous years. It’s really good,” said Golden Ladies from Atteridgeville member Kgomotso Lefhiedi, who was also one of the organisers of the march.

“People must come dance here. It relieves stress,” she added.

Starting from Burgers Park, the clowns walked the streets surrounding Church Square, waving flags and brandishing banners, some of which read, “My friend with Aids is still my friend”, “Feast of Clowns and the blind will see”, and “Children have a right to have a mom and dad and to be safe”.

“It’s great to be here having fun, enjoying ourselves, and feeling part of the community,” said Mashadi Rakau, who celebrated her fourth Feast of the Clowns on Saturday.

This year marked the 12th time the event was held, having started as a one-day event in 2000. It has blossomed into a six-day festival over the years.

“We’re expecting about 4 000 people for the march, and up to 20 000 throughout the day,” said de Beer.

The event also featured exhibitions, live performances, and art workshops.

[Originally published by IOL]