Cape Malays…

and their Heritage

Self-Empowerment: Beyond the Cape (1840 – 1843)

Posted by tahirfarrath on February 1, 2010

(History of Muslims in South Africa)

1840 – Muslims in Port Elizabeth

S.A. Rochin in his article “Africana Notes and News” (Vol.12, no.1, 1956) indicated that the Malays of the Eastern Cape originated from slaves who escaped from Cape Town in 1809. This also appeared in the Government Gazette at the time about the Governor of the Cape offering those who had absconded a free pardon if they returned. There is no record to show that they (possibly 89 army conscripts of the Battle of Blaauberg of 1806) accepted the offer and the names of these Muslims are recorded in the Cape Archives but have not been traced. It is thought that they made their way to Uitenhage (Abdul Gakien Abrahams, 1989?)

By 1840 there were 150 `Malays’ in Port Elizabeth and by 1849 they had built their first masjid. Sixyears later [1855] a need arose for the building of another masjid in Grace Street. This masjid was constructed with the financial assistance from the ruler of the Ottoman empire, Sultan `Abdul MaFid. Eleven years later [1866] the Muslims of Port Elizabeth built a third masjid in Strand Street (but there is uncertainty about its location today). A further discussion will follow as the stories unfold.

1841 – Distribution of Cape Muslim population

The first survey for allocation of ecclesiastical grants to community institutions produced the following distribution table of Muslims in the Cape Colony:

Cape Town      6 492
Cape District      400
Stellenbosch      268
Worcester          300
George              100 ?
Uitenhage          150
Albany                50
Swellendam        20
Beaufort West     20
Strand                  ?

Total                 7 800

Mossel Bay Muslim burial site

This site was discovered in 1968, not far from the Post Office Tree. Records show that this piece of land had been granted to the community more than 100 years before it’s rediscovery as burial ground for Muslims. It is believed that one of the graves is that of a very influential Muslim who was buried here in the 19th century after dying at sea.



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