Cape Malays…

and their Heritage

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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