Get Caught in a (Friendly) March

Wanna catch some action in Cape Town? Just hang out for a few hours near the corner of Adderley and Longmarket Streets in the CBD (map), where, on any given day, odds are you’ll play bystander to a protest march.

I personally find these marches to be delightful, because, apart from the harmonious singing that usually accompanies them (the sounds reverberate up and down Adderley), they’re also a reminder of the various hard-won freedoms of the “new South Africa”.




The marches can be as little as a few-dozen strong, or as large as a few-thousand, and traditionally follow a set route: up Adderley Street, left into Spin Street, and right into Plein Street, which takes the marchers up to the gates of Parliament.

Today’s march, whose path I happened to cross, was organized by a group of cleaners, whose union is negotiating for higher wages. The local word for what the marchers are doing is toyi-toyi – as in, “today, we’re toyi-toying!” The toyi-toyi is half dance, half stylized military march. If you watch long enough, someone in the crowd is bound to offer to teach you!