A museum about Muslim slaves in South Africa

The house is designed to reflect the cultural characteristics of Muslim family two centuries ago.

A museum about Muslim slaves in South Africa


A museum in South African capital Cape Town sheds light to the dark past of Muslims who were brought to the country for slavery. An Ottoman cap is also among the pieces presented in the old building.

Numerous photos, clothes and antiques are reminiscent of first Muslims in South Africa. Despite it appears as an ordinary old home from 18th century, when you step in a long journey into the history kicks off. It locates in Simons tower, 40 km far from Cape Town Before it was turned to a museum, the house that was built by two Sikh missionaries was bought by Davidson family in 19th century. The Muslim family were forced to leave the house by Apartheid regime.

The house is designed to reflect the cultural characteristics of Muslim family two centuries ago. There are bridal gowns from 18,19 and 20th centuries. The walls are all along decorated by old photos which turns the museum a rich source of visual history. The photos of Muslim leaders who pioneered South African Muslim community and Islamic scholars who studied on education and law are also found among photos.

One part of the museum is committed to portray Muslim pilgrimage. The photos of South African Muslim pilgrims and the gifts they brought from Mecca and Medina are presented in the room. A piece that attracts visitors' attention is a fez, a kind of cap associated with Ottomans, which is believed to be brought by Ebu Bekir Efendi, an Ottoman official assigned to South Africa in 1862. Ottoman coat of arms that is also believed Ebu Bekir Efendi made along with hand-written documents in Arabic, Malia and African languages are other notable pieces.

The owner of the museum Zeynep Davidson said " The hand-written documents do not belong us but various Muslim families here in Cape Town. They can borrow under some circumstances. During the years when Muslims were forced to immigrate, the level of education swiftly fall and literacy decreases among Muslims. Most of the hand-written documents are in Malia and Indonesian. The people who got the historical books did not recognize their value and because the books are in foreign languages, they destroyed books. Today, Muslims in Cape Town are aware of the value of manuscripts and protect them appropriately."

A historian focuses on museums, Joelene Wambery explained the first Muslim slaves were brought to the country in 1743 mostly from Malia islands. The Muslim slaves had a determining effect on the country's history with their role to bring Islam to these lands. She adds "They brought occupational crafts. The Muslim women were tailors as the men were craftsmen. The first showcase in South Africa was a product of Muslim man. However, the most effective thing is of course the religion, Islam. The expansion of Islam among slaves have had groundbreaking impacts. With Islam they gained a character and become an individual. If they had not converted to Islam, they would not have had a psychological support."

Last Mod: 12 Temmuz 2014, 17:29
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