Cape Malays…

and their Heritage

Self-Empowerment: Port Elizabeth (1856 – 1857)

Posted by tahirfarrath on February 7, 2010

(History of Muslims in South Africa)

The Malay Corp who arrived in Port Elizabeth on the 18th of May 1846 to fight in the Battle of the Axe lost their interest in the battle when they heard that the Governor of Cape Town had not supported their families with victuals (foodstuff). When the Malay Corp was dispersed on the 14th of September 1846, some Muslims returned to Cape Town, while those who remained settled in the Eastern Cape. Many were attracted to the bay area. The focal figure in Port Elizabeth was Fortuin Weys who Thomas Pringle described as “One of the wealthiest and most respected inhabitants of the place”. Fortuin also had a brother called Christiaan who was married to Sarah, a free woman. Christiaan died in Uitenhage on 21 January 1853 at the age of 64. He left land in Cape Town to his grand daughters: Sarah Martha and Francis Pye. Names such as Aboo Rafie and Aboo Salie, an eatinghouse keeper and boatman respectively, became prominent. They were the sons of Tuan Nabain of Batavia (Abdul Gakien Abrahams, 1989?).

1856 – Masjied Akbar (Grace Street Mosque)

The land transferred on 16 June 1820 (on which the Grace Street mosque was built) had been owned by Fortuin Weys. The land was transferred to his wife, Dietjie Weys, formerly known as Doortjie van de Kaap, but somehow got transferred to George Wood on 20 October 1852 and then sold to Dietjie Weys again on 9 March 1853. The property was held in trust by Edward Hull who had the power of attorney to transfer to Aboo Rafie as the priest of the Masjied Akbar. (There is mention that the mosque was completed with the financial assistance from the ruler of the Ottoman Empire.) The First Emaam was Aboo Rafie who died at the age of 78 on the 6th of November 1860. Dietjie Wey’s sole executor and heir, Abdol Garies, authorised on behalf of the Muslim congregation the transfer of the property to Aboo Rafie and his successors in office on the 6th March 1861. Not much is known of Aboo Rafie’s family after his death. This Masjid saw the appointment of twelve Imams. Emaam Aboo Rafie’s son, Omar Rafie became the Imaam. An article “News-Views” of November 1969 lists him as the second Imaam (the source to verify this was not listed). There is mention that “a son” of Aboo Rafie married a daughter of the Largardien family. However, it is known that Omar Lagardien was the father of Gosain, Gasant, Salie, Fagrodien and Moegamat (Chukkie). Gosain married Fatima Dollie and their children were Abdulla, Roesdien, Fagroedien, Ebrahiem, Abduragmaan, Hassiem, Joenayn, Achmat and Sonny. There were also the four daughters: Salaama, Mariam, Zaynab and Gadija. Fasant was the father of Ismail (Pinie). Moegamat was the father of Ebrahiem (Konyntjie). Salie was the father of Ragma. Fagroedien married Gadija Agherdien and their children were achmat, Asma, Ebrahiem, Ganief, Gosain, Roekieyah, Abdulla, Alwie, Ragma and Dawood. The third (or second) Emaam was Fortuin ad Dietjie’s son-in-law, Ishaak Jukkie. Emaam Ishaak (a boatman) married Asia, their only daughter. He also fathered a child from Christine van de Kaap. Fortuin and Dietjie also had an adopted child, Nieba Weys, whose mother was a free woman called Hesge Oesten. Dietjie’s sister, Jatia, was married to Frans van de Kaap.

The 4th Emaam was Behaardien Jappie, also called Emaam Baarie Jappie. The 5th Emaam was Dout Mallick who was the father of Hadji Mallick Mallick – the father of Yusuf (Joe) Mallick and Amina. The 6th Emaam, Abdul Hakeem Hendricks (Oupa Kimmie) was the father of Sulayman Hammond (Romance) and Sadieyah and Maymona. He was the Ebrahiem (Brayma) Powell’s grandfather. The 7th Emaam was Bardrudien Agherdien, also known as Hadji Dienie – father of Grubby (Moegamat Tape). The 8th Emaam was Tawielodien Davids who died at the age of 93. He was the longest serving Imam of 33 years. Emaam Hadji Abduragmaan Johardien became the 9th Emaam and was known as Hadji Maan among his students. He was the father of Abdulla, Fatima, Gafsa and Farouk. Then Emaam Dawood (Dout) Tawieloedeen, the son of Emaam Tawieloedien Davids, was the 10th Imaam. The 11th Emaam was Hadji Fuad Jappie.and he had eight children, namely: Moegamat, Farouk, Ragma, Moegamat Zoughdie, Abdul, Gaseeb, Beharoedien, Yasmina and Magfooz. Next in line was Emaam Fuad’a son, Behardien Jappie (Abdul Gakien Abrahams, 1989?).

1856 – The Baakens Valley Cemetry

In 1855, the Government granted the Muslims a piece of land in the Lower Baakens Valley. A prominent Muslim allowed a piece of the cemetary to be sold to the P.E. Municipality to widen the entrance road to the Baakens Valley. The remains our forefathers and mothers were exhumed and buried elsewhere in the cemetary. This cemetary now lies dilapidated and forgotten with overgrowth. Tombstones stand isolated as an epitaph of pioneers of Islam oblivious to the generation of decendants  (Abdul Gakien Abrahams, 1989?).

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2 Responses to “Self-Empowerment: Port Elizabeth (1856 – 1857)”

  1. Ardiela Savahl said

    Very interesting indeed

  2. tahirfarrath said

    From Muhammad Salaam

    Assalaamu Alaykum

    I have read some of your articles with regards to Port Elizabeth and the first muslims that resided there. Do you have any information with regards to the Madatt family?

    You mention that there were about 150 families during 1840, and my great great ancestor that lived during that period was Samodien Madatt (1812 – 1918)

    Your input would be highly appreciated.

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