Bo-Kaap History

With the holiday season on us, one of the most fruitful trips one can make is to the starting point of Islam in South Africa: Cape Town. While enjoying the scenery and sights, include areas of importance to Muslims. In this article we give a brief look at Bo Kaap.
Bo-Kaap is an historic area of Cape Town. A traditional residential area of Cape Town's Muslim community, the suburb is situated on the slopes of Signal Hill. You will find cobbled streets, brightly coloured houses from the 19th century, Muslim shrines (kramats) and mosques.
Most of the residents are descended from slaves brought by the Dutch in the 16th and 17th centuries. They came from Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and elsewhere in Asia. They are known as Cape Malays, even though most aren’t descended from Malaysians.
Early Muslim slaves in Cape Town included famous scholars and religious leaders. Many others were skilled craftsmen and artisans. They played a major role in the language and culture of Cape Town and South Africa.
Afrikaans, a language unique to South Africa, was originally developed by slaves. These people came from all over the world, and needed a language to speak amongst themselves and with their Dutch masters. Muslim scholars produced the first written texts in Afrikaans.
The Muslim community also had a large influence on the cooking of South Africa. Cape Malay cuisine is delicious. It usually consists of a combination of fruit, spices, vegetables and meat. You can visit a restaurant in the Bo-Kaap where food is served in the traditional way: sitting on the floor and eating with your hands. Explore our rich heritage.