Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bo Kaap Walking Tour

Yesterday we ventured off to the Bo Kaap Museum to discover some of the Cape's rich history. I knew were in for an interesting time when we met our guide, Faried. He has made it his mission to educate himself on the history of the area, and grew up in nearby District 6 until his family was forced to leave.
The museum is situated on the fringe of the city centre, at the foot of Signal Hill, in the area that became home to many freed slaves after the abolition of slavery. It depicts the lifestyle of a 19th century Muslim family and showcases Islamic culture and heritage. It is the oldest dwelling in the area, dating back to the 1760s.

Bo Kaap , with it's colourful houses and narrow cobbled streets, is one of the Cape's most colourful suburbs. Many of the residents in the area are descendants of slaves from various African countries as well as Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. These slaves had been imported to the Cape by the Dutch in 16th and 17th centuries.As Faried pointed out, the slaves were incorrectly known as "Cape Malays" despite the fact that they were not all of Malaysian descent. The name however has stuck, and the area is also know as the Cape Malay Quarter.

These two houses were obviously my daughter's favourite!
The colourful houses, once homes to the freed slaves, have either Dutch or British influence, and most are semi detached. The stoep (patio) is elevated from the street and has a 'skinner bankie" (gossip bench).

One can just imagine families and friends enjoying summer evenings together after a days work in the city.

 Faried entertained us thoroughly as he led us through the narrow streets and pointed out various facts. He arranged for us to visit the Auwal Mosque, South Africa's very first official mosque. This was most interesting and we were allowed to enter the mosque. (We have never set foot in a mosque before.) There he explained to us the ritual washing before prayers, why we needed to remove our shoes and many other fascinating facts regarding their religion and culture.

We slogged up cobbled streets to visit a Kramat and enjoy the view of the city below.

 On our decent, Faried took us to a popular corner cafe where we were able to enjoy the
 best samosas and doughnuts the Bo Kaap has to offer.

We also visited Atlas Trading, a treat in itself. They have been selling spices since 1946 and you can find every spice you have ever heard of and many that you may not know! The aroma is just incredible! 
Spices are sold in small packs or by the kilo, dispensed from great wooden boxes and weighed.
Some of the spices are imported from India. One can buy beans, rice, nuts, dried fruit and incense too.
 We stocked up on some necessities and leaf masala, apparently their best seller - a mix of 12 spices that will go will with  anything. They even supplied me with a recipe!

We ended our amazing day with rooti and home made mince curry for dinner.

Culture Swapper


  1. yum yum! What a great trip. We have an Aussie visitor coming to stay with us in July - methinks this is a good tourist experience for her too! :) Glad you had fun, Wendy!

  2. Yes, a wonderful day Taryn!A must do I think, and I can hardly believe I have lived here for so long and never ventured to the area!

  3. It sounds lovely. Now I feel like a real Cape curry.

  4. Ahh looks awesome!! Wish we would have been there too :( xx

  5. looks like a an addition to the must do this list in Cape Town....

  6. A great idea for Cape Explorers - something I've wanted to do forever!

  7. A big yes in my books...will certainly do it again!And the best part was having my eldest with us too to enjoy the fun!


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