Kites get residents’ hearts soaring

2015-11-03 06:00
Kiters preparing for the 21st Cape Town International Kite Festival, hosted by Cape Mental Health, brightened the Heideveld sky on Wednesday last week to raise awareness for mental disability. PHOTO: Earl Haupt

Kiters preparing for the 21st Cape Town International Kite Festival, hosted by Cape Mental Health, brightened the Heideveld sky on Wednesday last week to raise awareness for mental disability. PHOTO: Earl Haupt

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Residents in Heideveld were treated to an outdoor show on Wednesday last week.

Ten local and international kiters let their creations fly at the Heideveld sports complex in the lead up to the 21st Cape Town International Kite Festival, which took place in Muizenberg on Saturday.

The festival is used to raise funds for the host and beneficiary of what has become Africa’s biggest kite festival, Cape Mental Health. October was also Mental Health Awareness Month.

“The purpose is really to raise awareness about mental disability. People with mental disabilities face enormous stigma and prejudice just because they have a diagnosis,” says Ingrid Daniels, director at Cape Mental Health.

“Our message is very clear; that we focus on the individual and not their diagnosis. It’s about giving them opportunities.”

Master kite maker Ebrahim Sambo of Athlone taught visitors how to make swaeltjie kites at free workshops. He is passionate about sharing this historic kite-making technique that has been passed down through generations of the Sambo family.

Unfortunately, the festival was cut short on Sunday as gale-force winds and heavy rains lashed the Cape, leading to the cancellation of the second day of the festival.

Vimla Pillay, Cape Mental Health’s deputy director, says because of the sudden change in the weather an anticipated income of at least R300 000 has been lost. The decision to cancel followed the event safety officer’s directive.

“The Kite Festival is our biggest fundraising and awareness event of the year. We had a wonderful day on Saturday,” says Pillay.

Kiters from four countries (South Africa, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) were expected to further show off their colourful creations before the weather put a premature stop to proceedings.

However, despite the cancellation of the Sunday’s entertainment, Wednesday’s event in Heideveld still fulfilled an added purpose.

The Longbottoms from England showed off their flying underpants once again and two-line kiter Steven Leonard from Durban showed off his Revolution tricks, skills he perfected on a recent trip to the United States.

“I think it’s lovely. We have arrived here, put a few kites up and just everybody is coming out of all their houses. It is really nice because they are enjoying the kites and it is nice to see that,” said Sara Longbottom at the event on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Sara’s husband, Karl, has seen South Africa change in every visit to the country.

Karl Longbottom, a kite maker from England, said: “It seems much more open, much more relaxed and it is wonderful. That is why we keep coming back. My expectations? Just to fly a few kites, make some people smile. That is all we want to do.”

Patrick le Grange, from Olivia Court, commended the work being done by Cape Mental Health and thanked the kiters for coming out to his community last week to show off their art.

“It is the input of these people that shows how deep and how far their love goes for South Africa, and maybe all over the world. This day, for me as a member of the community, is memorable and I would just like for all citizens of South Africa to see these people’s efforts, so that they can stop with the violence and the evil that this world is offering them.

“They are doing it out of their own accord, so that they can see what is happening here and the peacefulness of this day. I mean this is not in another area where there is gun shootings here now; it is peaceful and quiet and it is supposed to be like this. I want them to keep up with the good work so that we can live in a peaceful environment.”

Children from 30 primary and special schools participated in the Let’s Play Edu­Kite school competition on Saturday. There were also free children’s kite-making workshops as well as colouring-in competitions for younger children.

With workshops, competitions, craft and food stalls as well as children’s rides and live entertainment, the festival was a family outing. It also encouraged mental well-being – family time, being active and outdoors.

All profits go directly to Cape Mental Health, South Africa’s oldest mental health organisation, which has been providing vital mental health services to adults and children in disadvantaged communities in the province for 102 years.

For more information contact the organisation on 021 447 9040 or or visit

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