Still marching on after six decades

2015-05-05 06:00

It has been 65 years since he started walking with the Bloemhof Crusaders.

Now, at 77, Richard Cupido has vowed to keep marching on till the day he no longer can. The only original, living and active member of the band, Cupido says he thanks his late mother for pushing him to pursue music.

“When I was 12 my mother enlisted me with the band. She also forced me to go to all the meetings and listen to what they are saying. I didn’t have a brother or father in the band with me so I had to do it on my own,” Cupido says.

The passion lives on, as he enthusiastically shows off all the pictures and articles he has framed in his Portlands home.

“I play the alto saxophone and I still march in every [Christmas parade]. My wife bought me a baritone saxophone a few years ago but it is too heavy for me now,” Cupido says.

He started his career as a drum major then moved on to play the mandolin before learning to play the saxophone a few years later.

Cupido says music was big in that era and interest in music has sadly died out since.

“It has been dying out for a long time. I don’t want it to die out. Parents must put their children in bands. Here they can learn to play and read music and then move on to the army or police band,” Cupido says.

He explains that the band started out as a Christmas choir but was later changed to a band because they did not sing.

The band started in the Bloemhof Flats in District Six but are now based in Beacon Valley and have members aged between three and 77.

Bloemhof Crusaders was started as a relief from the war in 1942 and in 1988 the band was dubbed the biggest in Cape Town.

Cupido has travelled with the band and has many fond memories.

“We played at the 1995 World Cup, we went to Sun City to play for Sol Kerzner and later we were included in the 35 cultures of the world representing Cape Town,” he recalls.

The group only started competitions in the late 70s and took many titles since.

He says his legacy now lives on in the band as his two children, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren are part of the band.

“I took my children with me to meetings and that is how they too got involved. Now their children are also involved in the band,” he says.

“I still enjoy playing in the band and I will walk with them as long as I live.”

Next month the choir will host a thanksgiving service, honouring Cupido and other members who contributed to the development of the band

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