Salam aleykum to the Bo-Kaap. This is where you find yourself strolling through narrow cobble stone roads between candy coloured houses, where time is measured by the calls to prayer from one of the ten mosques and a smell of freshly cooked Cape Malay food lies in the air. You are definitely on Cape Towns most spectacular hill.
There are many different explanations why the area is so colourful. But the most interesting fact we find is that there is actually a competition between the residents whose house is coloured the brightest. Besides the 14 houses around the junction Wale and Chiappini Street they are not allowed to change because of being declared a national monument.
The area was developed in the mid-18th century but the predominantly muslim community goes back even more than 300 years. The oldest house on Wale Street dates back to 1760. It nowadays hosts a small museum about the district and its community’s history.
As you already know from our last blog post about District Six many places across South Africa were declared as white only areas in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Somehow the Bo-Kaap residents managed to avoid being cleared and forcedly removed to the Cape Flats.
Do you know what Bo-Kaap means? It’s Afrikaans for ‘above the cape’. The Bo-Kaap, also known as Malay Quarter or Schotschekloof, is situated on the slopes of Signal Hill overlooking the city center.
Are you interested in finding out more about the Bo-Kaap? The museum provides some insight into the lifestyle of a prosperous 19th century Cape Muslim family. What we found more interesting though was a Free Walking Tour through the area. They start daily at 11am, 2pm and 4.20pm on Greenmarket Square corner Longmarket and Burg Street check www.nielsentours.co.za or Facebook for updates.