Sport and Recreation

by Dr Ehsaan Behardien

Three factors were fundamental to the development of sport in the Bo-Kaap.
Firstly the fact that the majority of the inhabitants were Muslim played a key role in the way that organizations were structured.
The second factor was that the Bo-Kaap was an enclave allowing it to develop a culture that was unique to the area.
Thirdly, its urban location exposed it to social activities to which isolated enclaves would not generally be exposed. Yet while the Bo-Kaap community adopted sports codes such as cricket and rugby, it patented these within a framework of its own values and moral codes. Sport thus served to provide for the youth a cultural outlet and for the seniors a way of guiding young people on the path of good values. The cricket and rugby clubs were thus also institutions of learning and discipline.

Rugby in the Bo-Kaap was introduced into its culture during the final quarter of the nineteenth century, but its development became established early in the twentieth century when rugby clubs such as the Young Stars, Buffaloes and Young Ideas were started. Later Tricolours and Leeuwendales emerged representing other parts of the Bo-Kaap. Strong Islamic values prevailed at all these clubs.

There was a strict code of conduct that was reflected in their constitutions relating to dress codes, eg. the wearing of a fez was compulsory at meetings. In 1936 Mr Gamiet Davids was the initiator of the Stars-Callies Rag that became an annual event between the two clubs to raise funds for a number of charities.

The Rag which took place on the Green Point Track in September every year was an event that brought great excitement.

A similar picture could be painted of cricket in the Bo-Kaap. The two oldest cricket clubs in the area were the Ottomans and Arabian College Cricket Clubs. Probably the most outstanding cricket administrator in the Bo-Kaap was Sadick Emeran who presided over United Cricket Club from the time of its inception in 1976 in opposition to the racially orientated white cricket set-up.

The Ottomans Cricket Club had their own luminaries such as the Salie brothers amongst others. Amongst the legendary cricket personalities produced in the area were Armien George, Armien Jabaar and Basil D’Oliveira, who represented England in several Tests as an outstanding all-rounder.

A more controversial social activity was the coon or klopse culture.
Within the Bo-Kaap community, there has always existed divergent views on the cultural value of klopse. However, the Bo-Kaap had down the years been a centre for the coon procession during the New Year period and many of its residents participated and/or hosted the troops.

A unique feature of the Bo-Kaap culture was ‘hoek-hou’ tradition. Down the years 2 corners in the Bo-Kaap had become famous for the gathering of young people as meeting places. The best-known one was the corner of Rose and Wale Streets where sports people and supporters of clubs met to discuss forthcoming matches or analyse the results of games played. The other was on the corner of Lion and Leeuwen Streets.