The Sliver Fez

The Silver Fez is the much-revered prize for the Cape Malay choirs of Cape Town, South Africa. Each year, hundreds of choirs compete to be crowned the undisputed champions of Cape Malay music – a form of music that first arrived in the Cape on slave ships.

Once upon a time in a city at the end of Africa, two men were possessed by a dream that could come true for only one of them. Kaatji Davids was a house painter with barely two cents to rub together…but he did have an old banjo, some loyal friends and the audacity to imagine he might be the one to topple Hadji Bucks, undisputed champion of Cape Malay music. The prize was the Silver Fez, Holy Grail of Cape Town’s Islamic subculture. The campaign involved a cast of thousands and a staggering array of skills, the most sacred of which was the singing of an ancient music that arrived in the Cape on slave ships. Kaatji laboured day and night, driven by dreams of glory and, in the end, by pain. You see Hadji Bucks had limitless resources and he used them to lure Kaatji’s best friend into changing sides. After that, it wasn’t just about the music anymore!