Cape Malays…

and their Heritage

Reading Ancient Tombstones: Tracing the Cape Malayu Heritage in South Africa

Posted by tahirfarrath on September 30, 2014


The Eastern Cape Malayo Cultural Society helped launch a New book in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Reading Ancient Tombstones: Tracing the Cape Malayu Heritage in South Africa and its link with South Africa

(By the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Cape Town, South Africa)

According to the Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia in Cape Town, Sugie Harijadi, the main purpose of the book is to assist the Cape Malayu Community/Indonesian descendants in unveiling the origin of their forefathers. She said that “Learning about our own heritage is important and valuable. It will shape our future and will allow us to know more about our identity”.


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Book: Religion and Ethical shadows – Sheikh Yusuf Al-Makassari

Posted by tahirfarrath on August 31, 2014


Author: Dr. Mustafa Mustari
Reformation of Indonesia had to face a much bigger challenge, both national issues and from abroad. Various crisis was engulfing this country. Starting from the economic crisis, politics, nationalism and morality are far more threatening the tranquility and peace of the nation and state. The tendency of ruling parties to advance personal or group needs, further increasing public distrust of the authorities. As a result, a variety of actions, even actions illegal participating public life would lead to national instability.

This condition is a major concern as well as uncertainty for Dr. Mustari Mustafa, an educator who spends himself in Makassar Alauddin State Islamic University. Lifting ideas from prominent Sheikh Yusuf Al-Makassari not be separated from its role as an ulema, preachers, Sufis, a congregation, and penjuang the master and the teachings of Islam in kafah. Kecendekiawan Shaykh Yusuf content explored more deeply, developed, and may be a new lesson for the next generation. The authors are also preachers, saw the figure Sheikh Yusuf as an exemplary figure who can not be ignored, and the role of services in the intellectual development of Islam in Indonesia, both for the past and for the future.

This book tells the story of Shaykh Yusuf (1626-1699) starting from the time before he was born, he was a period of growth and development, a period he studied, his crush Dutch colonial occupation in the country, to the days he was exiled to South Africa and spent the end of life his life there. Although Shaykh Yusuf was born and raised in the kingdom which is very convenient, but he does not necessarily accept that life. Indeed Shaykh Yusuf to work harder (gain knowledge) to enforce Islam, defend and advance their communities, as well as against the Dutch colonial time in Makassar.

Way of life Sheikh Yusuf spent most of his life abroad as in Yemen, Hijaz, Syrians, Turkey and ending in Cape Town South Africa. Sheik Yusuf also studied and traveled in Makkah and Madinah. During the long journey, he met and studied with great characters, phenomenal, the Sufis, the famous sheikh in Islam. Of all the learning that Shaykh Yusuf had produced great works that have more to do with the Shari’a. An understanding of the congregation and Sufism is also an important point that was developed by Shaikh Yusuf at the time.

Shaykh Yusuf thoughts could not be released from the fusion of ancient Greek philosophers interpreted by Islamic leaders before Sheikh Yusuf was born. The combination is even more colorful when the era of Sheikh Yusuf and after his time. Shaykh Yusuf emphasized how the position of Islam in different ages, so that the teachings of Islam are not only developed but also to grow and thrive in a pluralistic and modern society as it is today. One of them, how the teachings of Islam acceptable to the social status of people who are different from one another. Education level, income level, and residence perpengaruh greatly to the degree of understanding one’s Islam. Shaykh Yusuf looked at all of these are not mediocre, it is a big problem that could potentially lead to a tricky situation if not handled properly.

In the hands of the author, the book Religion and Ethical shadows Sheikh Yusuf Al-Makassari has become so important to understand the present condition as well as trying to find a way out (way out), which is much more meaningful and intellectual. The language is simple and easy to understand makes the book suitable as a leisure read. Happy reading!


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Tribute to Faldela Williams, author of Cape Malay Cooking

Posted by tahirfarrath on July 30, 2014






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Book: Sheikh Yusuf Al-Makassary – His Life Story

Posted by tahirfarrath on June 30, 2014

Sheikh Yusuf


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Book: The Killing of the Imam (Haron)

Posted by tahirfarrath on May 30, 2014

Haroon Book


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The 2nd International Maori-Melayu-Polynesian Ancestral Nations Conference, New Zealand

Posted by tahirfarrath on April 12, 2014

Revitalising Maori-Malay world relations

By Dr. A. Murad Merican
April 8, 2014

CHIEF Matutaera Te Nana Clendon, president of the Maori Malay Polynesian Society Inc, while sending me off at Auckland Airport recently, reminded that the past is our future. I retorted “you know what time is”.

He resonated with an approving smile. We both know what that implies.

For the duration that I was in Waitangi and Auckland attending the Second International Maori Melayu Polynesian Conference late last month, I encountered a consciousness in the Maoris — a heightened manifestation of ethnicity and identity. There was the presence of a transnational relations beyond Aotearoa, the Maori name for New Zealand.

It was resisting the Pakeha — the Maori label for the Europeans — the other White Man.

The 80-year-old Chief Matu perhaps represents that consciousness — for, unbeknown to him then, he has been to his tanah air (homeland) more than 50 years ago defending Malaysia against the communists.

Many like him who first landed in Malaya/Malaysia as New Zealand servicemen in the 1960s later realised that it was a journey to the past, linking them to their origins in the Malay archipelago.

The Maoris, 600,000 of them, forming 15 per cent of New Zealand’s population, are part of the Malay world stretching from Madagascar to Rapanui (Easter islands) and from Hawaii to Aotearoa. They belong to the Austronesian linguistic group with some 371 million souls — a large market as an economic community as I reminded the conference during the resolution session.

Western writers described the Maoris, as the “Vikings of the Orient”. But the Atlantic, as the Maori responded, was just a pond compared with the Pacific.

In presenting my paper later in the day titled “Early European/Pakeha Discourses on Melayu-Polynesian Identity”, I initially reflected that the meeting between the peoples of Southeast Asia and the Maori at the conference strongly signified a counter-narrative to mainstream Eurocentric view of the world.

There was a predominant manifestation of reasserting and re-establishing indigenous and endogenous views of the world and oneself from the discussions and papers presented.

It evoked Kupe, the earliest explorer who discovered Aotearoa in the 10th century. Later, a participant from Manahiki, an island in the Cook Islands (named after Captain James Cook) fairly located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, whose inhabitants are a close kin of the Maoris, suggested dropping the name “Cook” to the group of islands.

Kupe was there first.

The second conference was themed “Strengthening Cultural, Educational, Trade and Tourism Networks among the Melayu-Polynesian Ancestral Nations”.

While there was a sense of urgency in translating the many resolutions, I cannot help but assume the continuous relevance of the theme from the first conference, held in Seremban, Negri Sembilan in July of 2012, which was “Reestablishing and Revitalising Melayu-Polynesian Cultural Grounds and Global Relations”.

Three significant resolutions, among others, were the establishment of the Melayu-Maori-Polynesian Chamber of Commerce Business Council, and a university based in Auckland tentatively named as the Nusa Melayu-Polynesia International University. The other was revising history — resonating the oft repeated phrase in the conference — “The past is our future”.

In my paper, I articulated that for us to know ourselves, our identity and origins, we also have to know how we were constructed by others over the centuries. We have to internalise ourselves from within, we have to represent ourselves, and be conscious of our own voice and expressions of our being. I revisited two works relevant and much critical to the discourse.

One was Syed Hussein Alatas’ Myth of the Lazy Native: A Study of the Image of the Malays, Filipinos and Javanese from the 16th to the 20th Century and its Function in the Ideology of Colonial Capitalism published in 1977; and the other Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples by Maori educationist and scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith, published 22 years later in 1999.

While Syed Hussein adopts the sociology and philosophy of colonialism in the Asian setting and the concept of ideology as the system within which the representation of identity operates, Tuhiwai Smith holds no reservations on the Pakeha.

She advocated for a rewriting and rerighting “our position in history.” Writing history and theory are key sites in which Western research of the indigenous world have come together.

“Research” is inextricably linked to European imperialism and colonialism. According to Tuhiwai Smith, it is probably one of the dirtiest words in the indigenous world’s vocabulary.

History and theory evoke emotions. Being Maori was also ridiculed and condemned in academic and popular discourses.

In the Maori, we see outside of ourselves, that the production of knowledge is not always direct and neutral process. Even identifying ourselves as the Melayu-Polynesian rumpun (cluster) is not value free.

A pertinent example is the text of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The Maori language text was signed by 45 rangatira (leaders) on Feb 6. No rangatira had signed the English language text.

There are some five versions of the Treaty in English, which, according to the Maoris, have conflicting translations and interpretations that are still being debated today.

The coloniser and the colonised, in Frantz Fanon’s words “…know each other well” — perhaps much too close for comfort.


See also Maori TV clip:


Patron of the World Melayu-Polynesian Organisation, His Highness Prince – Yang Amat Mulia Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin ibni Tuanku Muhriz  (left) – more popularly known as Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz, the son of Sultan, Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan (Malaysia), Tuanku Muhriz ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir.  Part of the Malaysian group with the Hon. Minister of Maori Affairs, Peter Sharples (3rd from left).


Concurrent sessions: Toyer Farrath meeting the first arrivals, Prof Dato Nik Hassan Shuhaimi (Malaysia), Rawson Wright (Chairman of Taitokerau Forests Ltd, New Zealand) and presenter Mohd Yusof Abdullah (Director of Negeri Terengganau Museum, Malaysia).


Expat, Toyer Farrath, delivering his paper on Globalisation and Multiculturalism: Working together on strengths, not Differences


Toyer Farrath and Nuruniesah Farrath with Prof Dato Kamarudin Kachar (Malaysia), President of The World Melayu-Polynesia Organisation.


Toyer Farrath with the Maori members of the Maori-Malay-Polynesian Society – organisers of the The 2nd International Maori-Melayu-Polynesian Ancestral Nations Conference (Waitangi, New Zealand).

See more at:


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Three Abdullahs: A Genealogy of Resistance

Posted by tahirfarrath on March 13, 2014

Tuan Guru (Imam Abdullah Qadi Abdus Salam), Imam Abdullah Haron and musician Abdullah Ibrahim share a first name but also a firm grounding in Islam. Together they have plotted a course of resistance to colonialism and Apartheid with Islam as their vehicle. The three Abdullahs lives have become salient points within the trajectory both of Islam in South Africa and in the story of South Africa itself.

Three Abdullahs: A Genealogy of resistance celebrated and reflected on this history by examining the visual representation of these figures in the public imagination through an exhibition format. UCT Honours in Curatorship student, Justin Davy, invited Weaam Williams, Igshaan Adams and Haroon Gunn-Salie, as artists, who deal with the theme of resistance in their work, to respond individually to the archive of the Three Abdullahs with new and existing works.

Weaam Williams presented Medora: Ancestral Omega, a performative installation which centres around the practice of pinning a Medora – a turban-like headdress – onto a Muslim brides head on her wedding day. The practice of crafting and pinning Medoras is closely linked to the history of Weaam’s family, her great-grandmother at one stage being the only person in Cape Town able to make a Medora. Furthermore, the work embraces women’s stories and responds to a male dominated history including that of the Three Abdullahs.

Fresh from a solo show entitled Have you seen Him? at Blank Projects, Igshaan Adams presented a ritualistic performance in response to the idea of legacy or “what we leave behind when we die”.

Haroon Gunn-Salie is a 2013 Sasol New Signatures finalist. He described being named after Imam Abdullah Haron as a “narrative he has been coming to terms with throughout his life”. Gunn-Salie will be digging deeper into the Haron archive and simultaneously adding to it through the course of the exhibition.

Special Guest James Matthews, the acclaimed poet and icon of the struggle against Apartheid, will collaborate with Haroon Gunn-Salie on a performative piece conceived for the exhibition.

It was hels at:  Centre for African Studies Gallery  Harry Oppenheimer Institute Building  Engineering Mall Road  University of Cape Town  Upper Campus  Rondebosch, Cape Town

The exhibition ran till 18 November, Monday to Friday between 12 and 4pm. By appointment only.

For more information or to arrange a visit after the opening event please contact Justin Davy on 0832120702

The exhibition is curated by Justin Davy in fulfilment of the requirements of the Honours in Curatorship Course at the Centre for Curating the Archive, Michaelis, UCT.


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Khoi-San: Abolish the term ‘coloured’

Posted by tahirfarrath on February 2, 2014

By Thamsanqa Magubane

The Witness


Pietermaritzburg – The word “coloured” is a derogatory term that should be abolished like all other offensive terms, says the Khoi and San community in KwaZulu-Natal.

The leader of the Khoi-San in KwaZulu-Natal, Raymond Trollip, said members of the coloured community should be referred to by their different tribes such as the Khoi, San, Nama, Khorana and the Grique.

“The word ‘coloured’ must be removed like all the other names that have been removed. It is similar to the offensive K word.”

He said it had been coined by the “Dutchman to classify us from human beings to nothing”.

“Those who do not like to be referred to by these [tribe] names, they should simply be referred to as the ‘descendants’.”


Trollip was addressing delegates at a workshop organised by the department of rural development and land reform in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.

The event is aimed at collecting the views of coloured people about the possible reopening of the land claims process.

Their forefathers were dispossessed of their land in the 1800s and the current generation could not file land claims with the government because they lost their land before the 1913 cut-off date.

Trollip said that in their efforts not only to abolish the classifications of the past, the communities were also fighting to regain their culture and identity and were already looking at teaching one of their original languages, Nama, in schools in the province.

“We have identified the Nama language that should be taught in schools. It is an African language and would be easy to learn and would simply fall on the tongue,” he said.

“Right now our children are being taught Zulu and other languages, so the other children should also be taught to speak our language.”


Trollip said much needed to be done to restore the dignity of the “coloured” community.

“We lost too much to even try to explain – our land, our livestock, our culture, language, way of life, our heritage sites and historic landmarks, our forefathers’ farms, our identity and our first-nation status.”

His words were echoed by Gabriel Marais, representative of the National Khoi and San in KwaZulu-Natal, who said it was important that their culture, language and heritage be revived.

Advocate Bheki Mbili of the department said the workshop would look at the concerns raised by the community.

“The Khoi-San indaba will provide the platform for more inputs to the policy document the department is currently developing to the benefit of all exceptional land restitution claims,” Mbili said.

- The Witness


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Cape Malay Heritage Day

Posted by tahirfarrath on January 5, 2014

Cape Malay Heritage Day

Moegamat Hilmy Hartley’s presentation

Cape Malay Heritage Day1

cape Malay heritage silat1

Silat demonstration by Instructor Faheem Rhoda Jackson

cape Malay heritage dancers1

The Cushion dance of the Malay slaves

Cape Malay slave dance Cushion dance This dance was performed in Malaysia and Republic of Indonesia

cape Malay heritage dancers2

cape Malay heritage dancers4

Cape Malay Face of Melayu

Cape Malay Face of Melayu

Cape Malay Face of Melayu Cape Finalist Nashiya Salie

Finalist Nashiya Salie

Cape Malay UCT exhibition of the Medora

Cape Malay UCT exhibition of the Medora

Cape Malay Jamaat

Cape Malay Jamaat1

Cape Malay Jamaat2


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Farewell Nelson Madela

Posted by tahirfarrath on December 12, 2013

Mandela’s Journey With Islam, Muslims

7 December 2013

JOHANNESBURG – As millions worldwide bid farewell to Nelson Mandela, many Muslim eyes were turned back to history, reviving memories of a long history of interaction between Muslims and the iconic leader across the past decades.

Here are some key events that show a collection of milestones highlighting Mandela’s historic and warm interactions with Muslims, gathered by Cii Radio on Friday, December 6.

17 March 1992: Nelson Mandela pays a visit to the predominantly Muslim area of Bo Kaap in Cape Town – 17 March 1992
Mandela paid a visit to the predominantly Muslim area of Bo Kaap in Cape Town in 1992. He was met by, amongst others, the late author and historian Achmat Davids and the late Sheikh Nazeem Mohammed, then President of the Muslim Judicial Council.

24 March 1993: `Eid Message to the Muslim Community from ANC President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

In his message to Muslims in 1993, Mandela said, “I have always been particularly attached to the Muslim greeting – I thus greet you in the name of Peace.”

He has also praised the Muslim community, praying that their “sacrifice and discipline during the fast will stand this nation in good stead.”

He concluded his message saying, “On behalf of the National Executive Committee of the ANC and its entire membership I wish you all `Eid Mubarak and may you have a joyous day.”

9 May 1994: Nelson Mandela’s Address to the people of Cape Town, Grand Parade, on the Occasion of his inauguration as State President, 9 May 1994

In his inauguration speech, Mandela gave a remarkable speech which was concluded by the statement, “We can count amongst them Africans, Coloureds, Whites, Indians, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews – all of them united by a common vision of a better life for the people of this country.”

1994: Nelson Mandela received Sheikh Yusuf Peace Award from the Muslim Women’s Federation, 10 September

Message by Mr Nelson Mandela to Sheikh Gabier and the Muslim community on the birthday celebrations of Prophet Mohammed(Meelad un Nabi)

“Today is the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed and our thoughts will be with you and the entire Muslim community, wherever in the world they may be, as you all gather at the various mosques to pay homage to a unique religious leader, whose influence continues to spread to practically every part of the world and to every nation,” Mandela said in his message.

October 1994 – Prominent Scholar Ahmed Deedat has an interesting encounter with Mandela (as narrated by Goolam Vahed in his book, “Ahmed Deedat: The Man and His Mission” p. 19)

“In October 1994, Ahmed Deedat received a call from Saudi Arabia at his Verulam home. When told that it was Nelson Mandela, the new South African president, Deedat recalled: ‘At first I thought it was a prank call, and did not take the matter seriously. However, when I realized that it was indeed the State President, I nearly fell off my seat.’
Mandela, who was on an official visit to Saudi Arabia, told Deedat that wherever he went people asked whether he knew Mr Deedat. He suggested that they meet on 6 November 1994 during Mandela’s visit to Durban. The meeting did not materialise because Deedat had to travel abroad, but he told reporters that he was greatly honoured and humbled at receiving the almost unbelievable telephone call from the President.”

Later when Ahmed Deedat fell into his illness, the following statement was made by the ambassador of South Africa:

“Mr Mandela is concerned about any South African living in any part of the world but the case of Deedat is special as he is highly respected, not only in South Africa, but in the world, for his dedication and hard work in the preaching of Islam during the past fifty years” (Ahmed Deedat: The Man and His Mission, by Goolam Vahed, p. 18)

11 July 1997: Lecture by President Nelson Mandela at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies

In his lengthy warm speech at the Islamic center in Oxford, Mandela gave an important lecture titled, ““Renewal and Renaissance – Towards a New World Order” in which he touched on the relation between Islam and Muslims in South Africa as well as his own reflections on the role of religions in the black continent.
“I am most grateful to the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies for the invitation to share ideas with you. When da Gama finally reached the Indian Ocean, he found navigators there far more competent than himself to guide his expedition, and wisely he relied on them in the same way that I know that I am following where others have opened the way, and that we are amongst those from who we have much to learn,” he said.

“What encourages me to add my humble contribution, is the Centre`s commitment to the promotion of understanding, tolerance and co-operation as essential conditions for advancing the welfare of all.”

He went on saying, “African Muslim polities shared the ambivalence of other states and religions towards the colonial slave trade, protecting believers from the violation of their fundamental rights but also complicit in the trade in human lives.

“In the face of European colonialism, Islamic communities took their place along the whole spectrum of resistance politics, including the struggle against apartheid.”

30 January 1998: Speech by President Nelson Mandela at an Intercultural Eid Celebration

In his speech in Johannesburg, Mandela congratulated Muslims on their `Eid, reflecting on the deep roots of Islam in the history of South Africa.

“Africa has made Islam its own, from the very beginning when the African Christian King Negus and Abyssinia gave protection to the followers of Prophet Muhammad. That example of respect and co-operation points to the role religion can play, and the spiritual leadership it can provide, in contributing to the social renewal on our continent,” he said as part of his speech.

“Now that South Africa is free, the ties which the Islamic community has always had with other parts of our continent can flourish and enrich our nation without restraint or distortion. They are part of our common African heritage.”

12 April 2010: Sheikh Qaradawi meets Mandela

During his visit to South Africa, prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradawi met South African leader Nelson Mandela and gifted him some of the books he authored on Islam and the Holy Qur’an.

Qaradawi hailed the South African leader as the “hero of Africa”.

Sheikh Aidh al Qarni invites Mandela to accept Islam

In a letter, whose date could not be verified, Sheikh Aidh al Qarni invited Mandela to accept Islam.

“I am one of millions on this globe who have read your autobiography, realized your struggle, admired your bravery and wondered about your sacrifices and devotion for the cause of your principles, your freedom and the freedom of your people,” the letter said.

“Therefore, I request you, I beseech you, and I do sincerely hope to hear your declaration of Islam loud and clear, the eternal statement, ‘La ilaha illa Allah, Mohammed Rasool-ullah’, [There is no deity worthy of worship but Allah alone, and Mohammed is Allah's Messenger.] At that time, all slave-servants of Allah, the Almighty, in all the six continents will applaud you, the holy city of Makkah will salute you, the Door of the holy shrine of Ka’bah will be opened for you, and the pulpits of the Islamic world will salute your name in great tumultuous praise.”


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