Bo-Kaap walk

The Bo-Kaap was formerly known, as the Malay Quarter, It has been the traditional home of Cape Town’s Muslim population since the second half of the eighteenth century. It is most easily reached by foot along Wale Street, which trails up from the south, across Adderley and Buitengracht streets.

Its boundaries are roughly formed by Rose, Chiappini, Shortmarket and Wale Streets. Its fourth side scrambles raggedly up the steep slopes of Signal Hill. The streets of the Bo-Kaap are lined with picturesque terraced houses, along cobbled lanes. The houses are a mixture of Cape Dutch and Cape Georgian architectural styles and this, combined with the Islamic faith, culture and eastern origin of the majority of its inhabitants, has given the Bo-Kaap an ambience that visitors find both captivating and exotic.

The first members of this vital constituent of Cape society arrived from the Malayan Archpilago, then known as the East Indies, before the end of the seventeenth century. They included convicts, slaves and political exiles, some of the latter being people of high rank and culture,

In 1760 Jan de Waal, the sexton of the Groote Kerk, bought the land between Dorp and Wale Streets from Alexander Coel, the original grantee of Schotse Kloof and the following year, he was granted the other block by the Burgher Council. Between 1763 and 1768 De Waal built several small “huurhuisjes” (houses for rent) on this land, which he rented out to his slaves. The oldest one, still standing today, is no 71 Wale Street, which now houses the Bokaap museum. It is probably the oldest house in Cape Town, surviving in its original form. The second one is above Buitengracht Street. Although the curvilinear parapet remains, most of the woodwork has been replaced. The third one is no. 42 Leeuwen Street. This house was remodelled in 1975.

After the emancipation of the slaves in 1834 there was a great need for modest houses in Cape Town for the freed slaves, most of whom were Muslims. Property developers built many of the houses in terraces as “huurhuisjes”, as Jan de Waal had done half a century earlier. These flat-roofed houses were built in continuous rows with narrow frontages, roughly half that of the average house in the old part of the town, and are often of considerable depth to compensate for the narrowness of the frontage.

Many Muslims moved to the new parts of Bo-Kaap. Some were fishermen, others were tailors, shoemakers or builders, and yet others were skilled craftsmen such as cabinet-makers and silversmiths. This influx is of course closely connected with the construction of several mosques in the area after 1840. The mosque is the most important institution in a Muslim’s life and since the beginning of their settlement at the Cape this, together with religious instruction, has been their main concern. There are at least nine mosques in the Bo-Kaap, the oldest being the Auwal Mosque in Dorp Street. On the hillside behind the houses there are also several kramats, or tombs, containing the remains of much-respected religious leaders.

In 1943 a number of prominent citizens formed a group to work for the retention of the Malay Quarter. With the support of the then, Historical Monuments Commission and the City Council, they succeeded in having fifteen houses in the block bounded by Rose, Wale, Chiappini and Longmarket Streets restored. The City Council, who had meanwhile acquired the greater part of the Quarter, opposed its preservation, but as result of the efforts of the Commission and the pressure of public opinion, it changed its attitude. In 1966 the area between Rose and Chiappini Streets, and between Wale and Shortmarket Streets, was proclaimed as a monument. Today the general rehabilitation of the area is being carried out under the supervision of the Commission and its architects.

“De Schotschekloof”, 79 Dorp Street

This is probably the oldest building in the Bokaap, and was the homestead of the Schotsche Kloof Garden. It was granted to Andries Thomasz in 1707. In the 1724-estate inventory the owner Christina de Bruyn, described it as single storey. Jan de Waal must have converted the house into a double story soon after aquiring the property, because in the 1768-estate inventory, it was described as double storey.

This property dates from 1707, when, according to the estate inventory of the then owner Christina de Bruyn, there was a voorhuis (Lounge), rooms on the left and right and a kitchen. Large pane sashes have replaced the original windows.

71 Wale Street Bo-Kaap Museum

The wavy Baroque parapet was clearly visible in 1867, and is typical of the early Cape Dutch architectural style.

It is one of a few remaining examples of the small “huurhuisjes” (Rental houses) erected c1768 by Jan de Waal in this upper portion of Wale Street. Restored in 1975 restored by the City Engineer’s Department under the guidance of architects Munnik, Visser, Black, Fish & Partners.

A characteristic feature is the voorstoep (front stoep), which has solid seats at both ends and is still used as a gathering place for family and friends.

Another feature is the front stable door (bo-en-onder deur). This example has an additional upper panel, fitted with glass panes, which slides down and rest on the bottom panel of the door, thus providing light in the entrance hall even on a rainy or windy day. The sash windows fitted with teak shutters, are a typical Dutch feature. The rectangular fanlight above the front door admits light into the dark entrance Hall.

Buitengracht Dwelling

This single storey house is set back from Buitengracht Street. This house is one of the two remaining Cape Dutch curvilinear parapet houses in Cape Town. It is one of the “huurhuisjes” built by Jan de Waal in Waalendorp in 1763. For many years the general public did not know the existence of this building, as a warehouse blocked its view from the street. A few years ago the warehouse was demolished revealing this fine old house, which can now be seen from Buitengracht Street. The parapet is identical to that of the Bo-Kaap Museum in Wale Street. The double door and fanlight and the windows are of “Georgian” design, and are replacements. The plaster surrounds to the door and windows were probably added even later.

75, 73, 71 Dorp Street

These units are sited on land originally granted to Jan de Waal in 1761 for the purpose of development. The progress of this work is speculative for in 1853 a sale notice of the property Schotschekloof included “40-50 building lots”, evidently undeveloped.

42 Leeuwen Street

This house was probably part of the early Walendorp development.

83, 85, 85, 89 Chiappini Street

These houses were built C1820. In 1972 the City Engineer’s Department did alterations. The houses are attached and stepped. The restoration proposals in 1972 show predominantly existing fabric at Street level, and the reuse of doors, windows, etc. where possible. They have panelled Georgian double doors with beaded frames and geometrical pattern fanlights. The bluestone flower boxes and steel pole supported stained hardwood pergolas were added c1975.

Spolander house cnr Dorp and Pentz Streets, Bo-Kaap This building appears to date from about 1830, but documentary evidence indicates the existence of a building on the site as early as 1818. It is one of the last early nineteenth-century buildings within Cape Town that has retained an original thatched-roof line. The thatch roof was still visible in 1895. It is sometimes referred to as the gateway to the Bo-Kaap

158 Buitengracht

According to property transfer deeds a dwelling existed on this site in 1826. The hotel premises are clearly described in an 1861 diagram. In 1901 J Parker made additions for Ohlsson’s Cape Breweries.

Buitengracht Street:

Ground floor: A timber lintel is above the centre entrance; chamfer mould frame, bolection and field mould panels to doorway appear cl900. The medium pane sash windows and panelled door flanking the entrance were installed post 1902.

First floor: It has a fine early Cape fanlight with curvilinear glazing bars and fixed transom sashes set flush to the wall face. Fine early cornice, Cape timber floor and roof construction, heavy bead mould beams, some wide yellowwood floor planks, moulded interior doorframes, with splayed window reveals.

Leeuwen Street: The various timber doors and windows are not of original fabric. There is evidence of an earlier coping below the raised parapet. Parkers’ proposal included a rear addition on Leeuwen Street and a timber balcony with cast iron balustrade on “existing cast-iron columns”.

In 1859 Millard did a survey of Cape Town. These houses were visible at that time:

83 Wale Street

Restoration proposals of 1975 show most of the walling as existing. The modern hardwood panelled front door and sashes replaced earlier components.

These sites on Wale Street are of the first to have been developed above Buitengracht Street in the late 18th- and early 19th-century.

81, 79 Wale Street

Restoration proposals in 1975 show internal alteration to existing fabric. Remade early Cape Dutch sashes set flush to wall and a reused 8-panel moulded Georgian teak doors.

77, 75, 73 Wale Street

These are reconstructed single storey dwellings. They have remade Georgian doors and Cape Dutch sashes.

69, 67 Wale Street, I, 2 Lion Lane Dwellings

The City Engineer’s Department restored them in 1975.

117, 113, 111, 109 Church Street

In 1971 alterations were done City Engineer’s Department. The restoration proposals of 1971 show predominantly existing fabric.

22, 20, 18, 16 Helliger Lane

In 1971 alterations were done City Engineer’s Department. The restoration proposals of 1972 show internal alterations and the repair of the existing fabric.

73 Chiappini Street

The City Engineer’s Department, in1970, rebuilt a single storey, 2-bay, plastered loadbearing brick structure, behind the existing street facade. They reused the early 19th-century doorframe and rectangular fanlight.

75 Chiappini Street

It was rebuilt, by the City Engineer’s Department in 1970 behind the existing street facade.

130 Church Street

This house was built c1860. Unusual “gaanderij” runs the full depth of house. The repaired bluestone paved stoep has plaster stoep “bankies” with wavy cheek walls. The remade Cape Dutch single sash windows were modelled on the remaining original windows. The City Engineer’s Department restored it in 1972.

91, 93, 93, 95 Chiappini Street

In 1974 alterations were done by the City Engineer’s Department. They have raised stoeps, packed stone flower boxes, stoep “bankies”, with remade 6-panel double door and fanlights, reused medium pane sashes and internal shutters, moulded plaster hoods with Greek revival cornice.

205, 203, 201 Longmarket Street

The facades were restored in 1970 by the City Engineer’s Department and the brick structures behind them rebuilt. They have new centrally divided doors in old bead mould frames with rectangular fanlights.

In 1884 Pockock did a survey of Cape Town, and identified the following houses:

99 Shortmarket Street

97 Shortmarket

It has an 18th century doorframe and small pane fanlight, with a modern stable door. The windows are early Cape, small paned witha sliding lower sash, possibly facsimiles installed by Magda Sauer cI947.

95 Shortmarket Street

It has an old frame with a modern door. The windows are modified early Cape hardwood, with newer externally fixed upper units. The deep window reveals, and internal exposed bead moulded beams indicate old Cape flat roof construction. It was renovated by Magda Sauer cl947.

93 Shortmarket Street

It was renovated by Magda Sauer c1947.

91 Shortmarket Street

This is a double storey, 2-bay dwelling. It was renovated by Magda Sauer c1947.

89 Shortmarket Street

Matches no 91. The exposed soft red brick on the side facade indicates an older fabric. It was renovated by Magda Sauer c1947.

65A Chiappini Street

The survey indicated two flat roof units, with a stepped parapet on the northeast façade. It is a single storey on Chiappini Street, and a double storey on the down slope. The adjacent gate piers are part of Magda Sauers’ renovations in c1947.

202, 200, 198, 196, 194 LongmarketStreet

The painted hardwood flush panel horizontally divided doors and inward opening casements are fashioned on the early Cape Dutch pattern and probably installed c1947 under the direction of Magda Sauer. They have reworked 19th-century cornices, low parapets and corrugated asbestos cement roofs.

50 Rose Street

The survey showed a single storey, flat roof and parapet.

The stoep piers and balusters were added in c1970. It has a reused 4-panel door with a scollop decorated, semicircular fanlight. It was renovated by Magda Sauer cl947.

188 Longmarket

The survey showed a single storey, with parapets and a flat roof. The decorative balustrade parapet, French doors and balcony shown in Lyon proposal, in 1902 were removed. (Possibly during the c1947 modifications by Magda Sauer) in favour of a simple moulded parapet and sash windows. The original entrance was possibly off Rose Street. Part of the early spearheads wrought-iron railing remains.

44, 46 Rose Street

These units were built in 1970 for the City Engineer’s Department. They are single storey, 3-bay brick units with flat roofs and moulded parapets, with raised bluestone stoep, brick edging, steel railings. They have modern hardwood 4-panel doors and semicircular Georgian fanlights, medium pane sashes and Greek revival cornices.

The survey done by Thom in c1895 showed:

192 Longmarket Street

The site was developed. Budricks survey, early 1902, shows the double storey, hipped roof. It was renovated by Magda Sauer cl947.

211 Longmarket Street, corner or Chiappini Street

Old photograph shows an earlier double storied construction with a balcony and verandah.

69, 71 Chiappini Street

They were previously double storied with balconies and verandahs. The City Engineer’s Department rebuilt them in 1973 as single storey, 3-bay dwellings in the flat roof and moulded parapet aesthetic.

77 Chiappini Street

It was built in1970 by the City Engineer’s Department, as a single storey, brick structure with flat roof and a moulded parapet.

199 Longmarket Street

According to Pococks’ survey of 1884, the parapets were visible. The City Engineer’s Department restored the facade in 1972. The front rooms are mostly old fabric, and were rebuilt behind.

197 Longmarket Street, corner Rose Street

The City Engineer’s Department restored it in 1972.

It has an unusual precast concrete balustrade to the parapet and bluestone stoep paving.

56 Rose Street

The City Engineer’s Department restored it in 1972.

128, 126 Church Street

They were restored in 1975.

Rose Street Sports Club

According to Pococks’ survey of 1884 it was visible as a single story, and visible as a double story according to Budricks survey, early in 1902.

124, 122 Church

It was restored c1975. It has centrally divided panel doors, a semicircular Georgian fanlight and large pane sashes, with reused internal panelled shutters.

120 Church Street, corner Rose Street

A single storey development was visible, with alterations done in 1902. It was restored c1975. The raised bluestone paved stoep and corner steps remain, but the original entrance was bricked up.

The proposal in 1902, shows the addition of a first floor with Victorian plaster decoration to walls and parapet, a balcony with cast-iron columns, balustrades, etc. which was not executed.

68 Rose Street, corner Church Street

In 1971 alterations were done City Engineer’s Department. The conversion to a shop was probably done cl900.

70, 72 Rose Street, corner Helliger Lane

In 1972 alterations were done by the City Engineer’s Department.

21 Rose Street

In 1972 alterations were done by the City Engineer’s Department. It has an arched courtyard entrance, with a fine bluestone stoep, sandstone paved yard and cut granite kerb stones to the roadway. A grille of radiating wrought iron rods is over the yard gateway. The 1909 proposal shows the yard converted to shop. It has a Georgian 4-panel bolection mould front door with a grid pattern fanlight. The internal shutters were reused. It features a reused fine Greek revival plaster cornice.

19 Helliger Lane

In 1973 alterations were done by the City Engineer’s Department. The granite kerb stones and sandstone setts indicate an earlier carriage entrance. The Greek revival cornice was remade.

97 Chiappini Street, comer Wale Street

Single storey, rebuilt by the City Engineer’s Department in 1975.

108 Wale Street

It was rebuilt by the City Engineer’s Department, behind the partially existing facade in 1973 restorations. It has an elaborately moulded plaster door surround, which is part of the earlier fabric. The Georgian 8-panel door was remade.

17 Helliger Lane

In 1973 alterations were done by the City Engineer’s Department.

106 Wale Street

In 1974 alterations were done by the City Engineer’s Department.

It has a reused panelled hardwood front door and bead mould frame. The earlier square fanlight was replaced during restoration work, as the floor level had to be raised. The earlier moulded plaster hood to the doorway was retained.

104 Wale Street

Alterations were done in 1926 by Parker and Forsyth for Messrs Darter and Sons.

74, 74A Rose Street

It was restored c1975. It has centrally divided Georgian doors in 18th-century bead and ovolo mould frames, Cape Dutch small pane windows with fixed transom and painted half shutters. Restored 18th-century cornice. The roof construction of 74 is one of the few remaining examples of slender brick vaults, internally exposed, supported on bead mould joists.

76 Rose Street

It has a cl900 centre 6-panel flush mould door.

102 Wale Street

76, 78 Rose Street, corner Wale Street

According to Thorn c1895, the site was developed, but did not have the corner splay. In 1955, H van Amsterdam for SA Anmed, did alterations.

Number 78 has a typical 1950’s facade finish.

Some of the Mosques of the Bo-Kaap

39 Dorp Street The Auwal Mosque (Upper Dorp Street Mosque)

This is regarded as the first established mosque in Cape Town, dating from the turn of the 19th-century. The minaret and extension on Dorp Street date from 1943. Alterations in 1943 include pointed arch windows, terrazzo wall panelling, arch to courtyard in Dorp Street facade.

In 1806, the new British Governor, General Craig, granted the owners of the Muslim School in upper upper Dorp Street, permission to erect a mosque. The warehouse next to Coridon’s house was converted into the first mosque. What makes this achievement even greater is the fact that the mosque was established during a period of this country’s history when religious freedom was frowned upon and the only form of worship allowed was that of the Dutch Reformed Church. Religious freedom came on 25th July 1804. By then the Auwal Mosque, in Dorp Street, was already an established institution. It played an important role in shaping the distinctive culture of the Cape Muslim community. Here many of the Cape Muslim’s individualistic traditions were born, traditions which today make this community such a colourful one.

134 Buitengracht Street

Nuraal Islam Mosque wasfounded in 1844. The Nural Islam Mosque was established as a Shafee Mosque, by Imaum Abdol Rauf, the founder Imam. In 1867, a students of Abubakr Effendi, Abdol Rakiep, became the Imam of the Nural Islam Mosque. The appointment was by succession, as he was the son of Imaum Abdol Rauf.

An upper level was added c1895, and the minaret c1930.

Mosque Shafee

Cnr Church & Chiappini St

Imaum Hadje, a student of Tuan Guru (Imaum Abdullah Kadi Abdus Salaam), was for many years an official at the Auwal Mosque in Dorp Street. Here he rose to assistant Imam of Imaum Achmat of Bengal. Around 1847, the date appearing on Mosque Shafee in Chiappini Street, Imaum Hadje started his own congregation. On 3 September 1859 he also took transfer of a piece of land, on the corner of Hilleger Lane and Chiappini Street. Today this property forms part of the site on which Mosque Shafee is constructed. Imaum Hadje is regarded as the founding Imam of Mosque Shafee whose congregation he served from 1847 until he died in Mecca in 1860.

The Jamia Mosque was built during the years 1851-1853 on the site officially granted to the Muslim community. The mosque was extended by approximately a third of its original length c1915.

In 1846, Imaum Abdol Bazier, together with his son Abdol Wahab, Daries and Salie van de Kaap, volunteered to do service on the Eastern Frontier of the Cape Colony during the Battle of the Axe. Their ploy was to exchange their military services for the acquisition of a mosque site. This mosque site was granted to them in 1849 and in 1850, the Jamia Mosque, also known as the Queen Victoria Mosque (because the land was donated by the Queen), was constructed in lower Chiappini Street.

The Jamia Mosque was the most popular mosque in Cape-Town in the Nineteenth Century. This could be attributed to the dynamic leadership of Abdol Wahab. Imaum Abdol Wahab died at his home in Bree Street on 4 March 1872. His grave no longer exists but there is a strong possibility that he was buried on the ground he acquired as a burial site for his congregation, the Tana Baru.

Longmarket Street

Mosque Boorhaanol Islam (Pilgrim Mosque)

The survey done by Pocock, in c1884, indicated a single storey, 3-bay, parapeted gable. In 1907, additions were done by Douglas Hoets, for Imaam Younos. In 1920 a timber minaret was visible. It was extended from 3-bay to a 5-bay, include mezzanine in 1950. It has a smooth plaster, parapeted gable, and corrugated iron roof, with an octagonal minaret over the main entrance. An earlier timber minaret was destroyed in a storm c1930.

The first Moslem holy man, Sheik Yussuf, arrived at the Cape in 1694. He was a renowned personality, an exile from his native land in the East. He was regarded as a rebel and mystic, whose memory is even today revered by the Muslim people of South Africa. This very remarkable man had for many years been a thorn in the flesh of the Dutch East India Company. In alliance with the English, he had waged a terrific agitation in the state of Bantam against the Company’s nominee to the throne. In 1683 he was captured, and imprisoned at Java, but the Dutch authorities feared that his presence in the East Indies might prove a source of danger and accordingly, in 1694, shipped him off to the Cape. The Council of Policy at the Cape was summoned to the Castle to decide where he should live. The Council of Policy decided to sent him and his family to the bare sand dunes, near the wide sweep of False Bay. There was a trickling river mouth, the Eerste River, but no landing for ships anyware. They lived in rough huts and on the smallest allowance from the Company. Sometimes they were lucky to catch fish in the river. Yet nothing could defeat Sheik Yussuf’s spitit.

He witnessed the strengthening of the Muslim faith in the Cape, even though many of them were slaves. He saw the beginning of pilgrimages to his home and named it Macassar, in honour of his birthplace.

Even though Governor Simon van der Stel held the greatest respect for him, he turned down the many petitions for his release.

Sheik Yussuf died 5 years later, in 1699, at the age of 73. The Company allowed his family to return to Macassar.

His tomb, known as a Kramat, lies at Zandvliet in the Western Cape, and to this sacred spot pilgrimages of Moslems still come reverently every year to honour his memory.

The first piece of land on the Tana Baru burial ground (meaning new ground) at the top of Longmarket Street was granted to Frans of Bengal on 2nd October 1805, as a buriel ground for the Muslims of Cape Town. It remained the main cemetery of the Muslim community of Cape Town until 15th January 1886, when it was closed by Government decree. It is still regarded as the most sacred of the Muslim cemeteries of Cape Town. Some of the most respected founders of the Muslim community, men and women are buried here; most of their graves are no longer indentifyable. Without their contribution it is doubtful if Islam or the distinctive culture of the Muslims of Cape Town would have survived.

Achmat of Bengal, who for the first fifty years of the Nineteenth Century, was intimately involved in the Auwal Mosque; Jan van Boughies, the founder of the Palm Tree Mosque; Mamat van de Kaap, who was prepared to sacrifice his life so that Muslims could continue to bury their dead on the Tana Baru; Saartjie van de Kaap, who donated her house as the first mosque for the Muslims of Cape Town; and Samida van de Kaap, the wife of Jan van Boughies.

Tuan Said Aloewie

The beautiful, mausoleum on the Tana Baru, is the “Karamat” of Tuan Said Alowie. Tuan Said Aloewie was the first official Imam of the Muslim community of Cape Town. Tuan Said Aloewie arrived at the Cape in 1744. Together with Hadjie Matarim, they were incarcerated on Robben Island where Hadjie Matarim died. A tomb for Hadjie Matarim had been erected on the Island. After serving eleven years of imprisonment, Said Alowie was released. On his release he decided to stay at the Cape. His burning desire was to propagate Islam amongst the heathen and eastern free blacks and slave population. This was indeed a dangerous consideration, for the laws at the Cape, prohibited the practice, preaching and propagation of Islam. The severity of the laws did not bother Tuan Said Aloewie. No law was going to prevent him from teaching Islam at the Cape. To facilitate his ambition he became a policeman. This job gave him easy access to the people he wanted to convert. He was soon given the key to the Slave Lodge and thus had easy access to the slaves. He was a unique person, a God-fearing man, and the real nation builder.

One of the oldest existing graves is the shrine of Paay Schaapie. He was also known as Tuan Nuruman or Imaum Norman. Paay Schaapie was banished to the Cape from Batavia in 1770. He resided in the Slave Lodge (at the top of Adderley Street). Soon after his arrival, Paay Schaapie acquired the reputation as an advice-giver to the slaves. Some say that he was recognised as a “Karamat” or “saint” while he was still living, for when he prayed a strange radiance of light engulfed him. After his death it became a practice of his followers to take a little of the soil from his shrine when they went on a journey.

Achmat of Bengal arrived at the Cape from Chinsura, one of the upper provinces of Bengal, during the 1780s. During the 1790s he married Saartjie van de Kaap, the daughter of Coridon of Ceylon and Trijn van de Kaap.

When Tuan Guru was released from prison in 1793, Achmat became his trusted friend and student. It was at Achmat’s instigation that Coridon of Ceylon made the warehouse of his home available as the first Muslim school in Cape Town. This property subsequently developed into the Auwal Mosque. On his deathbed Tuan Guru, appointed him his spiritual successor and “Chief Imam” or “Kadi”. He died on 9Th October 1843.

Probably the most prominent buried on the Tana Baru is Tuan Guru or Imaum Abdullah Kadi Abdus Salaam. Tuan Guru is remembered for his efforts to consolidate Islam at the Cape of Good Hope at the end of the Nineteenth Century. He is also regarded as the pioneer of the Cape Ulema (religious scholars), and certainly the first “Kadi” or “Chief Imam” at the Cape. No other person had as profound an influence on the religion, culture and history of the Nineteenth Century Cape Muslims.

Tuan Guru was a prince from Tidore in the Trinate Islands and was banished to the Cape in 1780, and incarcerated on Robben Island. While on Robben Island, Tuan Guru wrote a book on Islamic main Jurisprudence. This book became the source of reference of the Nineteenth Century Cape Muslim community. It was completed in 1781 and written in Malayu and Portuguese, in Arabic script. No other book had a more seminal influence on Cape Muslim society than this handwritten book of Tuan Guru. In it he declared his own Shafee doctrinal adherence.

When Tuan Guru was released from Robben Island in 1793, his first concern was the establishment of a Muslim school at the Cape. He established a school from the warehouse attached to the home of Coridon of Ceylon in Dorp Street. The school proved extremely popular with the local slave and free black community.

The only text available to the students was Tuan Guru’s book. Handwritten copies of the Holy Quran, which Tuan Guru wrote from memory, augmented this. Two copies have survived, and they contain few textual errors. It was at this school where such esteemed Nineteenth Century Imams as Abdol Bazier, Abdol Barrie, Cachmat of Bengal and Imaum Hadje received their Islamic education. This was where he earned his nickname as Tuan Guru, meaning Mister Teacher.

In 1806, the warehouse next to Coridon’s house was converted into the first mosque in the Cape, and named the Auwal Mosque. Tuan Guru became the first Imam. He died in 1807.

Jan of Boeghies was brought here as a slave during the latter part of the Eighteenth Century. He came from Celebes, known as Bughies, where he was born in 1734. He was an educated man.

A wealthy woman, Salia of Macassar, a free slave who bought her freedom, purchased him.

When they were married Jan automatically received his freedom. When Tuan Guru settled at the Cape, Jan joined his school in Dorp Street as an Arabic teacher. He was a party to the establishment of the Auwal Mosque and a member of the congregation. Jan, however, had great ambitions. He wanted to succeed Tuan Guru as “Kadi” and Imam of the mosque. For some reason or another Tuan Guru did not favour him. Jan left the congregation, and he and Frans of Bengal, acquired a property in Long Street (no. 185) as joint owners. On the death of Tuan Guru, Jan and Frans turned the upper storey of this house into a prayer room and appointed Abdolgamiet, the brother-in-law of Achmat of Bengal, as Imam. This property is today the Palm Tree Mosque. The owner Carel Lodewijk Schot built this building, in the late 1780’s. It became Jan’s sole property in 1811. Although a competent person, Jan avoided the position of Imam until 1820. The death of Salia, in the dawning years of the Eighteenth Century, left Jan an extremely wealthy man. By then he was aready over sixty years of age.

He married Samida van de Kaap. It was after this marriage to Samida that the remarkable character of Jan really came to the fore. He used the money he inherited from Salia, together with his own, to purchase slaves, convert them to Islam, and set them free. When Jan died on 12 November 1846, at the incredible age of 112 years, all his property was bequeathed to his wife, Samida van de Kaap. The terms of his will was, that Samida, after his death, allowed his congreation the continued use of the upper storey of her home as their prayer room. Jan of Boughies alias Asnoun was buried on the Tana Baru. His grave has been obliterated but his memory is cherished as the founder of the “Jan van Boughies” or Palm Tree Mosque

Abubakr Effendi

Born in Turkey, Abubakr came to the Cape in 1862. He established a theological school in Cape Town. Several local imams who adhered to shafee traditions contested his introduction of the Hanafi creed, and the resulting split survives today. Effendi’s school in Wale Street was the beginning of organized higher religious education. Abubakr is also significant for his writings in Afrikaans. He wrote the “Bayannuddin” (the explanation of the religion). This was only the fourth publication in Afrikaans. He died on 29th June 1880, at the age of 45.


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