It’s often said that “Africa is a country” – well, that’s how we refer to it. one homogeneous entity but those of us who live there or are from there know how diverse and rich a continent it is. Despite this, little discoveries are made which make this diversity even more remarkable and all added together over the years, decades and centuries which have gone by, aspects of each community making up the whole influence and impact the other making the sum of us greater than the individual parts.
One of these little encounters was the discovery that the oldest Mazaar (Islamic holy site) in South Africa suggests that Muslims settled in South Africa back in 1667 – that is not too long after the ‘discovery’ and the start of settlement by Jan van Riebeek and his crown (1654).
Another snippet, this coming out of the sad story of building being destroyed by fire, is that this destroyed building housed the first Afrikaans school, before the one better known in the Bo Kaap, a community linked with Islam. A publication by Achmat Davids in 2011, suggests that ‘the Afrikaans of the Cape Muslim’ dates from 1815. This accounts for the variations between mainstream Afrikaans and that spoken by the Cape Coloured community, a group of people who have given us the Kaapse Klopse, Malay dishes such as bobotie and koeksusters. While I might wonder where that leaves the monument in Oranje, it is suggested there is a difference between the two: all just adding to the rich culture that makes up the rainbow nation that is South Africa.