Colourful Cape Town
If you would find yourself in the colourful Cape Town for any given reason, make a note in your itinerary: Follow Wale Street until you get to vibrantly painted Georgian terraces. You are in the Bo-Kaap. Venture further into this bright, vivacious suburb, by following the narrow cobbled streets.
The brightly coloured houses date mostly from the nineteenth and seventeenth century. It is filled with Muslim saints shrines called kramats and many Muslim mosques. This suburb is also home to the very first established Muslim Mosque in South Africa.
I would suggest that you make a pit stop at the Bo-Kaap Museum to learn about the fascinating history of this multicultural community. The Museum itself is one of the oldest houses in the Bo-Kaap. Afterwards you will understand and appreciate the uniqueness of this suburb, set at the foot of signal hill, beyond the hustle and bustle of Cape Town.
Many of the residents are descendants of slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia and various African countries, who were imported to the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch during the 16th and 17th centuries. There are still traces of Indonesian vocabulary in the Bo-Kaap, such as “trim-makaasi” thank-you and “kanalah” please!
The slaves were known as “Cape Malays” (which is not essentially true as most of the residents are not entirely of Malaysian descent). However the term has stuck and Bo-Kaap is also known today as the Cape Malay Quarter.
For hands on experience, visit the monthly community craft market, held every first Saturday of the month. Entrance is free. You’ll be able to mingle with the residents and really experience the culture. There are opportunities to learn to cook some of the famous dishes with the food demonstrations. You can also indulge in the tasty traditional foods such as biscuits, cakes, samoosas, smoked snoek etc, while you browse the crafts around the market.
The Cape Malay cuisine is very popular. The uniqueness lies in the use of aromatic spices and herbs. These were originally brought with them from the different countries they originated from. The distinctive cuisine has also influenced South African cooking. The combination of Asian, Arab and African cooking makes for very interesting dishes.
You can visit a restaurant in the Bo-Kaap where food is served in the traditional way: sitting on the floor and eating with your hands. You will also find hotels nestled between the colourful houses.
A visit to The Bo-Kaap is essential to the experience of the mother city. The rich history of The Cape Malay quarters adds to the inimitable identity of South Africa.
Cape Town Central, Accommodation
- Avatara Guest House
- The Best Western Cape Hotel
- Tintagel Guest House
- The Cape Milner
- Milford House
- Atlantic Dream Beachfront Villa
- African Fiesta Holiday Apartment Rentals
- Peak Village Lodge
- The View Sunny Cove
- Hippo Boutique Hotel