A man considered the father of Islam in the Cape and a man considered an icon of the Cape Malay musical tradition were both remembered on Wednesday when two of seven footbridges along Nelson Mandela Boulevard and Rhodes Drive were renamed after them. Tuan Guru and Taliep Petersen, along with Father John Oliver, IA!kunta (Klaas Stoffel), Father Basil Van Rensberg, Ingrid Jonker and Dawid Kruiper were the seven names revealed.
Ahead of national Heritage Day this year, the City’s Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, along with family members and representatives of those being honoured, celebrated and commemorated these individuals who played an instrumental role in the history of Cape Town and the country with a renaming ceremony that took place in Woodstock.
In her speech, Mayor de Lille said that South Africans have come from a divided past and very sad history. The event was to honour those individuals that played a role in bridging those divides.
“We have chosen to name these seven footbridges after these individuals who are unsung heroes who used their lives and life’s work to bridge the divide by building bridges between rich and poor, the have and have nots and those who had access to education and those who did not,” Mayor de Lille explained.
“This is the most diverse set of names to have come through the City’s naming process to date, it is a list we are extremely proud of as it is a true reflection of our diverse history, heritage and culture” Mayor de Lille added.
Performances at the ceremony displayed traditional or original pieces such as a musical number performed by the children of Taliep Petersen, who passed away nine years ago. Petersen was a well-known singer, composer and director of popular musicals.
Jawahier Petersen, one of the daughters of Taliep Petersen, says that naming a bridge after her father is such an honour for the family to have their father’s name and memory solidified in stone.
“We (Petersen’s children) sang seven steps of stone because it speaks to the memories that lie in the remains and rubble of District Six. District Six is a big part of his identity,” Petersen went further.
Descendants of Iman Abdullah ibn Abdus Salaam, known more famously as Tuan Guru were also in attendance. Tuan Guru was captured by the Dutch and brought to the Cape as State prisoners on 6 April 1780 and incarcerated on Robben Island.
While imprisoned on Robben Island, the imam wrote a book on Islamic Jurispudence and several copies of the Holy Quran from memory. His hand written works on Islamic Jurispudence, became the main reference work of the Cape Muslims in the 19th century.
When asked about future plans for the city of Cape Town, Mayor de Lille added that they (The City) are continually looking for ways to build an inclusive city.
“We are always trying to build a city where people can feel a sense of belonging and building a well-run city, it never ends, this is part of the integrated development program that we continue to roll out,” Mayor de Lille concluded. VOC (Umarah Hartley)