Cape Malays…

and their Heritage

Self-Empowerment: Port Elizabeth-South End (-)

Posted by tahirfarrath on March 2, 2010

C.J. Skead in his “Reminiscences L.B.” Vol.2 states that the Malay Quarters of Port Elizabeth were in Strand Street in the 1870s and when the Paapen Bietjies farm was sold off in lots in order to create of the new suburb of South End, some Muslims bought of these lots. Muslims also inhabited the “Little Irish Town” along with the Irish in Evatt and Alice Streets. Some of the Muslims had very humble beginnings, living in tin shanties near the beach. A large number of Muslims resided in Brook Street near the railway station. During 1880, the area was taken over by the Railways and the Muslims moved to South End. Although the Muslims became diluted with other races, they upheld their Islamic religion. Rather than turning people away from it, they drew them towards it and accepted them into the community as Malays. The Malays were well known artisans, tailors, dressmakers, cooks and fishermen. Among them were Salie Sanoola, Abdol Sataar, April Abrahams, Affelia, Awallie, Dollie (a boatman), Abdol Galie (a tailor), Jappie and lakardien (the greengrocers), Madatt (a fisherman) and “Old Darby” – the “Greatest Whaler in the Country”. Paul Kariem, Jappie and Soudien Badien were the famous boat coxswain racers, and the other names at these events were Salie, Raffie and Abdul Mallick. There was also Jan Oesman who contested the right of an Emaam to appoint his sons, brothers, relatives or Gatieps as his successor, contending that the congregation as a whole should appoint the Emaam on a simple principle of competence and ability (Abdul Gakiem Abrahams, 1989?).

Before the National Party came into power in 1948, South End and other parts of Port Elizabeth were very multi-cultural and multi-racial. Whites, coloureds, Indians, Chinese and Africans lived in harmony and intermingled with each other freely. Then came the Group Areas Act of 1950. The residents of South End were given a choice of several homes in a pre-allocated area, which were chosen according to their skin colour and income level. (The areas were 10 – 25 kms beyond Kempston Road and added to Korsten, Shauderville, Springdale, Gelvandale, Helenvale, Windvogel, Chetty, Bloemendaal and Bethelsdorp such suburbs as Gelvan Park, Parkside, Hillside, Salt Lake, West End, Arcadia, Salsoneville, etc. Certain areas were called Malabar [Indians], Kabega Park [Chinese], and New Brighton, Kwazakele, Zwide, etc. for the blacks. Others settled in Missionvale. All the best areas were reserved for the whites while the State had prefabricated “matchbox” homes built on cramped plots for most non-whites.) Of the 3.5 million people who were required to leave their homes, only 2% were white (so they may enjoy the remaining 80% of the city). The people of South End were not the only ones affected by these new laws. Areas such as Fairview, Bethelsdorp, Central Hill, Korsten, Salisbury Park, North End, Sidwell and Neave Township where also ‘disqualified’ in terms of the Group Areas Act of 1957 due to their multi-cultural communities. In spite of the violence in certain areas, people of these different ethnic groups are still – even today – largely concentrated in the areas in which they were sent to live during the Apartheid regime, making true re-integration and harmony difficult at best.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: