Children and adults sat huddled around Freshlyground’s lead singer Zolani Mahola, who, together with composer Alessandro Gigli, performed a live version of the Legend of Captain Fanplastic at the Avenue – the Two Oceans Aquarium’s events space, on Saturday.
The event, called Captain Fanplastic’s Sounds for the Oceans Music, took place on International Coastal Clean Up day. Marked between September 14 and 19 annually, the day is one of the world’s largest annual preservation and protection events.
Captain Fanplastic is the brainchild of Sea Point resident Rubin Hazelzet. Originally from the Netherlands, Mr Hazelzet moved to Cape Town five years ago to discover opportunities to set up office for Soap Box, a marketing support and research company focusing on behavioural design and social impact.
Mr Hazelzet said when he was young, his grandmother would tell him stories, which he would be in awe of. “This is when stories became meaningful to me.”
Mr Hazelzet said while working with many communities in Cape Town and Johannesburg, he had found a lack of environmental awareness.
“We came to South Africa and we saw it was beautiful, but we also saw how plastic was destroying it, so I tried to build my own story and it needed a hero.
“So one day, I dressed up as a plastic pirate and I thought why doesn’t my hero become this pirate and encourage children to become plastic pirates and clean up beaches. I started telling this story everywhere.”
And so, Captain Fanplastic was born. The concept revolves around a pirate creating awareness about plastic waste.
The concept was developed into an environmental literacy programme that uses storytelling, creativity and games to educate primary school kids about the impact of pollution on the marine environment and the value of plastic should it be recycled. “The pirate believes in no trash but treasure, and the story helps educate and makes children excited to go and clean up the environment.”
Mr Hazelzet said the story was being tested in other countries too and in the Netherlands, children started cleaning up the environment too. “This shows that this is not only a problem in South Africa, but global too”.
Through corporate sponsorship, they try to spread the word, he said, and came up with different ways for the story to be accessible, including an audio book which will include songs, music and narration.
Mr Hazelzet approached composer Alessandro Gigli who agreed to create music for the book and later, Ms Mahola came on board too.
At the launch event, the audience heard the story of Captain Fanplastic with live music by Mr Gigli, and Ms Mahola singing and dancing while she told the story of the pirate who saves ocean creatures from plastic and then turns that plastic into treasure.
Other speakers at the event included Marine Science educator, Kirshia Govender-Koumbatis from the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation, who spoke about the conservation work they were doing, and Zandile “The Black Mermaid” Ndhlovu, on changing the ocean narrative.
The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation and the Captain Fanplastic team had also held a clean up at Momwabisi beach earlier on the same day.
Legend of Captain Fanplastic is available to buy on Takealot and a sequel is soon to be released.
The book will also be translated to Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu to make it more accessible.