For some years a Cape Town International Kite Festival (including a kite competition) has been held at Zandvlei, Muizenberg in aid of Cape Mental Health. An asset for this event is that the wind will blow strongly.


Kites are flown in many parts of the world and its flying not only involves children but also has a strongly held cultural element.  Locally there is a style of kite making called “swaelijies” (swallows) which has become a tradition.  How this came about is not too clear but it has been suggested that its origin came into being when slaves from Malaysia and Indonesia were brought to the Cape Colony centuries ago. It could also have become known from the European settlers brought to the Cape from the late 17th century.


The art of kite making goes back many centuries to China. Buddhist monks thought that by building and flying kites they would stop evil spirits from harming their harvests.  In the 13th century Marco Polo, the Italian explorer, brought with him knowledge of kites and kite making.  Slowly kites began well known particularly as toys for children.


Science became involved when kites were used for weather forecasting. An experiment by Ben Franklin in 1752 proved that lighting was electricity. Kites were also used in experiments in the development of the aeroplane. Further, they were used by the military during the second world war.


Today  there are so many different styles and sizes of kite making.  One often sees kite surfing at Muizenberg and Blaauwberg beaches . Watching can be entertaining except when the thought enters the mind:  will that surfer reach land eventually?