The Tana Baru Trust hosted a Remembrance Day celebration on Sunday, aimed at commemorating the 130th anniversary of the infamous Tana Baru riots. The event was attended by over 100 guests, who were treated to guided tours of the historic cemetery.
Each year the Trust seeks to bring light to the case of 3000 Muslims who clashed with police on the 17th January 1886 over their attempts to bury Amaldien Rhoda, a deceased child, at the Tana Baru. Just two days earlier Cape Town authorities had shut the burial site, along with all other inner-city cemeteries, in order to contain a small-pox epidemic. This was despite engagements with the Muslim leadership in the city who had sought to stress the point that Muslims traditionally walked their dead to the graveyard and closing the Tana Baru would leave the nearest accessible site a substancial distance away.
Event coordinator, Dr Adiel Bassier said the Trust were eager to make the public aware of this historic event, as well as the overall significance of the Tana Baru.
“We feel we need to commemorate that, to demonstrate to us that the power of a united front is critical. It is a lesson for us as present day Muslims as well, it’s not just about a cemetery and dead people but about the legacy they left behind and the lessons you can learn from it,” he explained.
Bassier said the Trust’s ultimate goal would be to try and transform the Tana Baru from a mere cemetery into a world class heritage site.
“Everyone would be welcomed to come and visit it. Our vision is that whenever you come to Cape Town, whether you are a non-Muslim from Sweden or Canada, you would want to come to the Tana Baru as you would want to go to Table Mountain, Robben Island, Kirstenbosch or Cape Point,” he stated.
He added that it was vital the Muslim community in Cape Town were aware of where the Tana Baru was situated, what purpose it served, what it stood for and its historical significance.
Apart from the Remembrance Day campaign, the Trust also conducts a Muharram march during the onset of the new Islamic year, as well as public event on Heritage Day.
More information on the site can accessed at http://www.tanabaru.co.za/. VOC