It is easy to blame “the other” when things go wrong, as it exonerates us from individual duty.  So it is the case with what is ensuing in the Bo-Kaap or as it was originally known, the “Malay Quarter”.  

Years ago whilst house hunting I struggled and failed to buy in the “Malay Quarter”. Sadly, the only concern to the seller was the highest offer, that I was a Muslim of Malay heritage did not matter. Thus the “Malay Quarters” cannot be saved as its enemies is inside the community driven by greed.

Those who claim leadership in that space lack the fortitude to muster an intelligent plan. They lack foresight and reflect fake bravado in the face of the inevitable. The “Malay Quarter” is doomed to the unyielding pursued of savage neo-liberal capitalism which has been, ironically embraced by the same current obtuse Cape Malay and Indian Muslim property owners of the “Malay Quarter”. 

After years of selling to wealthy non-Muslim who have no claim to its heritage, locals are crying wolf. It is nearly too late. Decades earlier, Imams warned locals about selling to those who would relax on terraces drinking alcohol, shirtless while the call to prayer was rendered as it was done for 200 years.

Now, the many historic Mosques are often empty as the Muslims in the “Malay Quarter” dwindle.

The “Malay Quarter” could have been saved had owners who had to sell due to poverty etc. sold to other Muslims with heritage claim and who could afford. Whilst possibly racist from the outlook of an outsider, how else but with this strategy could the “Malay Quarters” be saved. Only by conserving a majority Muslim community could the locality remain true to its historical origins and identity.

The “Malay Quarter” needs sustained presence of Cape Malay and Indian Muslims, otherwise the culture and heritage of the locality dies. The peculiarities and activities of the culture dwells within the people not in the architecture. The people are the heritage in the “Malay Quarter”

Cllr Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress




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