Hg2 : The Hedonist

Bo-Kaap

Of all the sights and places of interest in Cape Town, make sure you don’t leave this one out. With its deeply mottled cobblestone streets and vividly-coloured houses, Bo-Kaap (literally ‘Above Cape’) is historically where Cape Town’s former slaves settled following their emancipation by the British. Once known as the Malay Quarter (though it is thought that only 25% came from Indonesia, Bali and other southeast Asian islands), this was also where a number of political exiles, Muslim pioneers and holy saints established the earliest mosques in the Cape – the oldest of these is the Auwal Masjid, built in 1795. It’s believed that this mosque is where Afrikaans was first taught, and it’s a little known fact that Afrikaans – frequently referred to as a form of ‘kitchen Dutch’, used to communicate with the slaves – was first written in Arabic script here. Auwal is one of 13 mosques squeezed between the rows of Georgian and Cape Dutch houses, so the chances of hearing the call to prayer during a visit here are fairly good, and on Fridays, you may even witness some of the local men praying on the street outside one of the mosques. Although there’s a dedicated Bo-Kaap Museum, you need hardly step inside to appreciate this special community – the neighbourhood, bustling with life and energy, is sufficiently intriguing. In recent years, along with slow gentrification that’s begun to creep in, there are also a number of ‘outsiders’ and foreigners who have moved in, establishing this as a desirable neighbourhood with excellent proximity to the city centre. For a unique insight into the Bo-Kaap area, you could sign up for a Cape Malay Cooking Safari (Tel: 021 790 2592, www.andulela.com), an experiential tour of the Malay Quarter which culminates in an interactive cooking lesson where you spend time in the home of a local family, assist with the preparation of a meal, and then sit down with them to enjoy the fruits of your labours. It’s fun, totally engaging, and a cut above the average tourist experience.

Address
Lower slopes of Signal Hill,
City Bowl
Telephone
+27 21 481 3939
Opening Times
Museum 10am-5pm Mon-Sat
Price
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