Achmat Davids

by Rashard Jedaar

Dr Achmat Davids’s legacy is to be found in his commitment to build a better society: his lifelong struggle, his contributions and acclaims being the fulfilment of that dream - his legacy.

After completing his training as a social worker (1964), Achmat joined Kupagani (1965-7), where he worked – feeding and educating the poor, and gaining hands-on experience of the scourge of poverty and its many faces, reinforcing his modus operandi: “administer with compassion”.

As Director of Social Services at the Muslim Assembly (1967 - 1980) he had found a base to interact with the family –the socially deprived, formulate and launch his literature for community building. “Community Sentiment and the New Coloured Townships” (1969), followed by papers delivered at conferences, publications in academic journals inspired and provided direction to community-conscious activists.

His Mosques of the Bo-Kaap (1980) acclaimed as a must-read book awakened in the community an awareness of the struggle of their forefathers and leaders to survive and perpetuate the values of our ancestors. Achmat unlocked the history, the culture and the beliefs of a once vibrant community hidden in the darkness of oppressive colonialism. And as the excitement of the people grew so did his detemination to dig deeper and publish - over 40 publications culminating in his magnum opus:  The Afrikaans of the Cape Muslims from 1815 to 1915:  A Socio-Linguistic Study, being a thesis in fulfilment of an MA degree.

Today, 21 years after his demise, he is still regarded as the leading authority on South African Muslim culture and history, and acknowledged nationally and internationally as an expert on the genesis of the Afrikaans language. He travelled widely and presented papers at international conferences. BUT he was born and lived all his life in the Bo-Kaap - a legend and Insha-Allah with a living legacy.

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