Tonight is the final performance of this year’s Cape Town Military Tattoo, and I can already sense the familiar feeling of melancholy starting to seep in, between all the adrenaline rush and thrill of the performances and of being part of the whole Tattoo Experience.
After tonight, alas, we will go our separate ways again – visiting musicians and performers will fly and drive back home, some to very far distant places, 3 Electrical Workshop will take down the lights and sound equipment, and Gearhouse will dismantle the scaffolding, flooring and seating stands. By Monday morning, the groundcrew will be watering and aerating the lawn, which has been flattened by the stands. The big guns of the Cape Field Artillery Saluting Troop outside the main gates will have withdrawn to Fort Ikapa for the last time… until next year.
No doubt, we will still see our local regiments, military bands and pipe bands performing at their various concerts, parades and memorial services in the coming months, but there is something very special and unique about seeing so many of them coming together at this annual military musical extravaganza.
Our Tattoo has a powerful effect of bonding and bringing together all the different arms of service of the military, improving cooperation and communication between all the different regiments, Reserve Force and Regular Force, on stage, involved in the production side, and in a support capacity. Yes, sure, there are always problems and difficulties along the way, with many unexpected challenges and crises demanding urgent attention. But they are dealt with and overcome because the goal – hosting a world-class Cape Town Military Tattoo from 11 to 14 November 2015 – creates such a strong sense of common purpose.
And one of the things I’ve noticed by hanging around all these military men and women, is that many of them have a remarkable ‘can do’ attitude and a willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty, to step in and assist where help is needed. I’ve seen instances of that at all levels, from the officers at the top to the troop on the ground.
All of this contributes strongly to the feeling of being a ‘Band of Brothers’, as Chloë and Maruwaan sing so beautifully during the finale.
And, quite honestly, if our country is to survive the current crises and to grow and flourish into the future, we need a lot more of that kind of feeling and energy. Not only in the military, but in all sectors of society, across the board.
The Cape Town Military Tattoo is certainly a highly entertaining and popular event – as evidenced by the close to capacity crowds on the stands during many of the performances and their enthusiastic applause and cheering… as well as their positive responses afterwards, as they made their way out of the Castle – “Oh wow! That was incredible! Wish I could see it again.”
As some fans on Facebook remarked, however, there were delays with the tickets going on sale via Computicket this year – international tattoos often open their ticket sales far in advance, so it is frustrating when advertising and promoting the event cannot be coupled with the call to ‘Book your tickets at Computicket!’ Because they can’t be booked yet. I’m sure that every night would have been sold out, or almost sold out, in advance. Nonetheless, judging from the number of people who did attend each show, I think we did extremely well.
In addition to creating a positive image of the South African National Defence Force, the Tattoo also creates opportunities for youth development and gives young upcoming artists and groups from other communities and cultures a platform to perform. The producers have always, throughout the just over a decade of hosting the Tattoo at the Castle of Good Hope, incorporated local youth groups, marching drill squads, school music bands, church marching bands, choirs and dance groups, musicians and performers who came from all communities across the City of Cape Town, and beyond. And we’ve had visitors from overseas (remember the Koninklijke Marechaussee from The Netherlands with their Trompetterkorps and the Dutch Fife Band of the Historisch Tamboerkorps with their unusual blue and white uniforms?) as well as from other African countries too. With the Tattoo being hosted in the Mother City, it creates a tremendously positive view of the City of Cape Town among locals and visitors from afar alike – and I think this is something that really can be developed further in the coming years.