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Photographer: Kim Ludbrook


Once a year, Dutch clowning organization Africlowns travels to South Africa to perform clown shows for the handicapped, poor and township schools in an attempt to put a temporary smile on the faces of those watching their shows. Led by Willem Hans Elbrecht, aka Clown Pluum, Africlowns already visited Johannesburg in March 2012. In October 2017, Elbrecht brought with him two other part-time clowns in the form of clowns Bluf and Puk. All of the clowns are part-time, and hold down day jobs where they earn the majority of their income.


Elbrecht, the founder and chairman of Africlowns, set up the group in 2000 and has performed in many countries in Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda Malawi and Zimbabwe to name a few. Often working in the heat of the day, the clowns staged shows in front of packed schools, under trees in the poorest of communities and to the handicapped at the Baragwanath Hospital near Johannesburg.


More often than not the African children who they perform for have quite simply never seen a clown before or have never known about the culture of clowning now many hundreds of years old in Europe. Although the smiles are temporary on the faces of those who watched the shows it seems to be well worth it as the children go home to their families and friends to tell the tale of the clowns that came to town.