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Bo-Kaap takes back its identity

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Hundreds of Capetonians braved the heat on Saturday to gather on the streets of Bo-Kaap for a symbolic event called the Bo-Kaap Doekmal.  There was an atmosphere of excitement as residents gathered to witness a renaming ceremony, in which the area was officially changed from Schotchekloof to Bo-Kaap, its traditional moniker.

The event comes after Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, approved the application from the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association (BKCRA) to officially adopt the name “Bo-Kaap” and change the borders of the area. The area had previously been divided into three areas, named Schotsche-kloof, Stad-zicht and Schoone Kloof, all of which had Dutch origins.

At 8am, the festivities started with a 4 kilometre walk along the new 4km boundary of Bo-Kaap, from Wale Street and ending at the Boorhanol Centre in Pentz Street.

Bo-Kaap residents begin the 4km walk [Credit: Fatima Allie]
After huffing and puffing up the historical cobble stoned streets, residents later convened for the formal ceremony, which took place at the Boorhaanol Centre in Pentz Street.

Residents gather in the heat [Credit: Fatima Allie]
Addressing the audience, Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekoom said the history of Bo-Kaaphas not been sufficiently recorded and that tourism “poses a threat” to communities. He said responsible tourism should be practiced.

With its bright coloured Dutch styled homes, cobble streets, Cape Malay flair and stunning mountain views, the area’s colonial and slave history is integral to its modern day façade.

While some see the event is trivial, many supporters feel the renaming is significant as it removes the imposition of colonial structures. The renaming is symbolic in terms of asserting the community’s rich history and cultural identity, that some feel is being eroded by urban dynamics and gentrification.

Bo-Kaap ‘hadjies’ in their traditional Cape Malay garb [Credit: Fatima Allie]
Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel said the Bo-Kaap community has overthrown their colonial affiliation and taken back their identity.

Minister Ebrahim Patel addressing the crowd

The Bo-Kaap Ratepayers and Civic Association said Schotchekloof can now be “put in a museum”.

The general stance of the community is that they agree – and are rather satisfied with the official induction of the name Bo-Kaap. Resident Nazli Benito said she is happy that the name is now recognised by the government.

“It’s a good thing as we belong here and this is our home. This should have happened long ago. I am glad it’s now being acknowledged by government and its now in the Government Gazette.”

Bo-Kaap residents excited to be part of the event

Another Bo-Kaap resident Mujaahid George expressed his elation at the renaming.

“I was born and bred here and have been living here for the last 27 years. I am happy that we have finally gotten rid of the slave name, Schotchekloof or the Malay Quarters.  I am ecstatic that our community is being given the name it deserves, which is the higher part of Cape Town, the Bo-Kaap.

No Cape Town event is complete without a barakat. [Credit: Fatima Allie]

VOC


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