Bo Kaap is a central city neighbourhood in Cape Town famous for its colourful houses. It is situated at the base of Signal Hill, overlooking the city bowl – the name literally means “above the Cape” in Afrikaans. It is very multi-cultural and famous for its Malay food.
The residents are mostly descended from slaves, convicts and political exiles brought by the Dutch from Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Sri Lanka. They came to be referred to, somewhat inaccurately, as “Cape Malays”. Under apartheid Bo Kaap was officially sanctioned as a Muslim area and people of other religions were forced to leave. The first mosque in South Africa was built here in 1794.
Why the houses are painted as they are is still a matter of debate, but on the free walking tour I learned that the slaves were only allowed to wear black or grey coloured clothes and therefore painted there houses bright colours as a means of self-expression.
Tweede Nuwe Jaar
Malay and African slaves were only allowed one day off per year, the second day of January. They took advantage by dressing up and having a huge party. Nowadays the “Second New Year” is celebrated with a massive street parade lasting all day in the Cape Town CBD. People camp out overnight to get the best viewing spot.
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