Bo-Kaap is a neighborhood in Cape Town
, South Africa
, that was originally settled by freed slaves brought over by the Dutch in the 17th and 18th Century. Bo-Kaap is situated on the slopes of Signal Hill, west of the City Bowl. Steep streets are lined with colorful traditional houses, painted in vibrant colors. The Cape Malay community is proudly Islamic. There are several mosques dotted around the cobbled streets and you'll see many of the locals wearing traditional dress.
Bo-Kaap was settled by the descendants of slaves brought over by the Dutch in the late 17th and 18th centuries. They originated from different parts of Southeast Asia, but were collectively referred to as "Cape Malay". Cape Malays were a mixture of political exiles, convicts, skilled craftsmen, artisans, scholars and religious leaders. The first South African Mosque was built in this area in 1794.
The Afrikaans language is thought to have developed as a lingua franca for the slaves, as well as their masters, to be able to communicate effectively. Educated Muslims were in fact the first to write texts in Afrikaans.
While the majority of Bo-Kaap's residents are still of Cape Malay origin, the housing boom in the past fifteen years has seen an influx of foreigners buying up the beautiful, quaint, historical homes of Bo-Kaap. But despite the apparent "gentrification" there are plenty of little local restaurants still open to sample the traditional cuisine. The streets are safe to stroll around during the day and the unique Islamic culture still appears to be intact and thriving.
Bo Kaap-Tours and Points of Interest:
Today the Bo-Kaap area is an attractive place to stroll around. The cobbled streets are lined with colorful houses providing the perfect opportunity for some wonderful snap shots. Walking tours
as well as culinary tours
are readily available.
The Bo-Kaap Museum is housed in one of Bo-Kaap's oldest buildings and is open on Mondays to Saturdays from 9:30am to 4:30pm. It documents the history of the Cape Malay community and is furnished in traditional 19th Century Cape Malay style.
The colorful "Coon Carnival" originated in the Bo-Kaap and still takes place every year on the 2nd of January.
Bo-Kaap and Cape Malay Cuisine:
The freed slaves that eventually settled the Bo-Kaap area were used to cooking with spices that originated in their home countries. The Dutch East India company continued to sail to Asia, via, Cape Town so many of these traditional spices continued to be available.
Dutch housewives began to include cinnamon and cloves in their pies while the Cape Malay cooks started adding the potato to their dishes. A wonderful fusion of cuisines developed and continues to influence South Africa's finest dishes.
Check out this Cape Malay cooking safari, or simply stroll into one of the Bo-Kaap restaurants for a delicious meal.
Bo-Kaap Resources and Links: