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Bo-Kaap Stoeps, Malay Quarter, Cape Town

An unmistakable uniqueness about Bokaap houses is the ” stoeps” (front porches). The height of the stoep is usually elevated from the streets and built up from solid bricks finished with tiles or “klompjes” which is a hard brick from the Netherlands. Some stoeps have iron railings. But the stoep best serves the purpose of being a place where family and friends meet and socialize. In the old buildings of the Cape yellowwood, stinkwood, teak and pine were imported from Norway Indigenous Timber was scarce.

The Bo-Kaap, which lies on the fringes of Cape Town’s city centre, is full of character and colourful houses (pink, orange, lime green and turquoise), many of which are national monuments and date back to the 1750s, with cobbled streets that rise up to meet the lower slopes of Signal Hill on which the suburb lies.

A lively suburb, the Bo-Kaap’s inhabitants are a blend of cultures that descend from slaves imported by the Dutch in the 1700s. They came from Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and the Indonesian Archipelago. Not only were these people incorrectly branded as ‘Cape Malays’ but the Bo-Kaap became known, and remains so today, as the Malay Quarter.

There is a strong Muslim influence - more than 90% of the people who live here are Muslim - as many of the early slaves were Muslim scholars and religious leaders, as well as craftsmen and artisans. This is a throwback from the apartheid era when the Bo-Kaap was declared an exclusively Cape Muslim residential area, and people of other religions and ethnicity were forced to leave.

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Additional Photos by Alex Fan Moniz (LondonBoy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 57 W: 0 N: 179] (1282)
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