What comes to your mind at the mention of Cape Malay, colourful houses, delicious curries, beautiful ladies wearing scarves over their heads……Well, there’s more to the Cape Malay people than that and I got to know that by going on a tour at the Bo-Kaap……
Shereen Misbach- Habib a friendly tour guide greeted us by our names (makes wonder how does she know it’s me?) and a warm smile and she welcomed us into the museum. To begin the two-hour tour, Shereen took us through the museum explaining the history of the Cape Malay people. What’s nice about the museum is that you get to see pictures from back in the day. They give one an idea of where they are from and how far they’ve come.
For the most part of the tour, we walk around exploring the streets, looking at the colourful houses and the architecture. Interesting places we got to see include the oldest Dutch house in the area, paintings on street passage wall which replaced graffiti etc.
On this tour, I got to get inside a mosque for the first time in my life and it happened to be the first mosque in the country. In between the walking around and the interesting site seeing Shereen took us to her home for a quick snack. We were welcomed with Koesisters, samoosas, dahltjies, a salad and fruit juices.
We ended the tour by visiting the Tana Baru Burial grounds. I’m not a big fan of graveyards (they just freak me out) but the view from there is amazing!
This tour made me realise that one as an individual can get into their car and drive around a neighbourhood. That is not enough to learn about the history, the people and the culture of that neighbourhood. One actually needs a tour guide or someone who knows the neighbourhood very well to take you through it and explain everything. There’s a very interesting story behind every street, house etc.
Secondly, it is important to dedicate some time and get to know your neighbour’s story – everyone on this earth has one. And if you don’t know a person’s history and background, it is easy to label them as this or that. Knowledge is power – it evokes a sense of understanding, sensitivity and tolerance. So get out there, explore thy country and get to know people and their cultures.
Did you know that Cape Malay slaves were given their surnames according to the month they were shipped into the country? Say a slave came in August, they would be given August as their surname.
I won’t say much as they say it in Xhosa “Amade ngawetyala” (long stories are reserved for court cases). See more pictures here.
To make a booking contact Tana Baru Tours or Shereen:
Tel: +27 21 424 0719
Cell: +27 73 237 3800