Griqua choirs convene in ’Plain

This is the Guard of Honour formed for the Paramount Chief at national events. Members come from different branches in South Africa. Collectively they guard the Griqua Flag but sing as individuals in their respective choirs. They performed a piece on Saturday July 6 at Westridge civic centre.

The Griqua National Conference brought over 1 400 people from six provinces to Mitchell’s Plain between Friday July 5 and Sunday July 7.

The main reason for the conference was to celebrate 100 years of Griqua choral singing.

The opening ceremony took place at the Griqua Community Hall in Portland on Friday July 5.

The Griqua choir festival was first established on July 5 1919, said Willem Gahl, one of the chiefs in Mitchell’s Plain.

He explained that the choirs had been formed to help raise funds for the impoverished communities in Namaqualand and the then governor of the Cape, Sir Frederick De Waal had asked the broader community to assist them.

In 1919, said Mr Gahl, Paramount Chief Andrew Abraham Stockenstrom Le Fleur formed choirs, who were dispatched from the Grand Parade on Sundays, to Wynberg, Salt River, Athlone and Rondebosch, among other areas, to collect money for those in need.

In the afternoon, the choirs would make their way back to the Grand Parade to hand the money they had collected, over to the Paramount Chief who would place the money in a pillow case and hand it over to the governor on Monday morning.

The governor would make sure the money reached the communities they had been collected for, said Mr Gahl. The tradition of choirs has since continued. “We are singing people. All of us were in choirs over the years.

Alan Andrew Le Fleur, the great-grandson of Andrew Abraham Stockenstrom Le Fleur, is the current Paramount Chief. It is tradition that the eldest son and first-born succeed the one before him.

“He is the indigenous and traditional leader of our Griqua Nation who keeps his followers together, our de facto king with supreme power,” said Mr Gahl.“He is a direct descendant of the late Kaptyn Adam Kok.”

More than 30 choirs attended this year’s festival. They came from Kimberley, kwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, Western Cape, Free State and Gauteng.