Challenges Facing the Bo-Kaap
in the 21st Century

by Sheikh Sa’dulla Khan

Protest Pics by Ashraf Hendricks

Bo-Kaap’s charming setting, increasing tourist attraction, growing foreign interest and ideal location, makes it a magnet for tourists, real estate agents and investors, and therein lies its greatest challenges, namely gentrification, tourism and possible loss of identity.

Many who reside there do not earn enough to afford the increased rates, hence increased protests amidst the rising tide of gentrification. Overcoming this challenge of Bo-Kaap gentrification requires a realization that the issue is not merely about the commercial value of property, but rather about the area’s antiquity, identity, destiny and hence the need to perpetuate the legacy of a unique historic community. Our heritage must not be relinquished, our principles should not be compromised, our values should not be abandoned and our faith should not be sold at the altar of profit or greed.

Within the current Bo-Kaap community, there is also the semblance of disconnect between the younger generation and the elders relating to faith practices. Mosques are sparsely attended and youth appear to be conspicuously less visible at religious events. Bo-Kaap residents and former residents need to host more events in the Bo-Kaap, re-familiarise themselves and others with the hallowed history of the area and reconnect to its proud past. There is a need to revive the warm spirit of community that was evident in the previous generations; that spirit of our illustrious pioneers who left an honourable legacy which every South African should be proud of; a legacy worthy of emulation and preservation.

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