There are many places in my city which I tend to take for granted. The Bo-Kaap has been one of them. I took a blog break in order to volunteer for Wikipedia and helped them with the Wikimania conference of 2018. Through my time volunteering, I met a few foreigners. After the event, I stayed in touch with Irene from the USA. It was by accident that she mentioned the Bo-Kaap we were walking along Long street and she told me she hadn’t been so we walked together to the Bo-Kaap. Bo-Kaap is loosely translated from Afrikaans- to above Cape in English.
The Bo-Kaap was built as an area for slaves to live in. The slaves were allowed to live in this quarter because they provided valuable work skills. The area was established way back in the 1760’s and is known for its colourful houses. Bo-Kaap was traditionally home to Cape Malay people, these people were shipped from Malaysia, Indonesia and other parts of Africa to work in Cape Town. Many of the people of the Bo-Kaap practised Islam and continue to do so. However, it was a multicultural area with a Italian and Portuguese population. This ended after the Apartheid government declared the area a Cape Malay area. The vibrant Muslim community remains an integral part of this bright and bold neighbourhood. And the homes were painted in these bright colours after the once enslaved people gained their freedom and the houses became their own properly.
However, gentrification is threatening the way of life of local residents who have lived in the Bo-Kaap for generations. Homes are being bought by real estate developers and are turned often into B&B’s, hotels, ice-cream parlours etc. This has driven up the bond/mortgage payments which leads to residents having to sell and leave their homes. This has led to community action and protests. I’m unhappy about the gentrification but, it is heartening to see a community come together and cooperate to protect long-lasting traditions.
It is a gorgeous place and it makes everyone that visits it happy. The Bo-Kaap reminds me so much of Burano in Venice. Anyways, if you are planning on visiting pop into the Bo-Kaap museum it is very small just a few tiny rooms with exhibits but, it does provide insight into the lives of people living in the Bo-Kaap. There are many Mosques in the area. The Auwal Mosque is the oldest in Cape Town that is quite a feat as there are many Mosques in the city.
The protestors are not violent and when I visited no protests were underway. So feel free to walk around and explore the area. After all that uphill walking, Bo-Kaap is located on the slope of Signal Hill you might feel hungry. You should have a Cape Malay style koeksister or two whilst in the Bo-Kaap which you can buy at many of the tuckshops with red signs on them. There’s a place opposite the Bo-Kaap museum where you can buy freshly made koeksisters just buy before 1pm they tend to be sold out super fast. If you are still hungry go have a tasty meal at the Bo-Kaap Kombuis. The restaurant serves traditional Malay food. It also boasts brilliant views of the majestic Table Mountain the penultimate symbol of Cape Town. To find out more click here:http://www.bokaapkombuis.co.za/
Thank you for reading my blog and for reading this post. If you want to comment please do. I’m more than happy to hear from you and to reply to questions and or suggestions.
Wishing you many happy travels through the journey of life!
xxx Nikki xxx