Cape Town South Africa Travel

Bo-Kaap, the colorful neighborhood

Bo-Kaap (above the Cape in Afrikaans) is an area of Cape Town located on the slopes of Signal Hill above the City Centre. Beyond being one of the most instagramable place of Cape Town, it is first and foremost a place with a strong identity 😎. So let’s start this post by retracing its history. 
Under the Dutch occupation, Malays, Indians and Indonesians were taken to Cape Town and put in the township of Bo-Kaap.  Today their descendants, called Cape-Malays constituted the majority of the colorful neighborhood’s inhabitants 🌈. Regarding the reason why houses are painted with bright colors, I read and heard so many things. However there was two explanations that regularly came back. The first one was that the houses, initially whites, were covered with colors in order to celebrate the end of slavery. As for the second reason, the inhabitants would have decided a long time ago to color them as a mark of celebration for one of Eid’s holiday. 
Currently Bo-Kaap has the most important muslim community of Cape Town. Following the arrival of the British in the 18th century, the slaves were able to gain some rights such as the freedom to adhere to a religion. This led to a return to the roots for some of them or simply a conversion to Islam for others. 
Although everything is done to maintain this identity, for years the neighborhood has been a victim of its own success and is facing the issue of gentrification. Now an ultra touristic place and facing pressure from the municipality, a lot of families are selling what was their legacy, worrying others that it might cause the loss of the uniqueness of Bo-Kaap.

I told you that it was one of the most instagramable spot of Cape Town 🤗.
Generally when you read posts about Bo-Kaap, it’s either black or white. In the first case, the district is introduced as a dangerous place full of thieves and where tourists are being assaulted throughout the year. Unfortunately it’s not totally false, it does happen 😕. On the other side, it is introduced as a safe and trendy area with an artistic soul 😌. Again, it’s not totally false. When it comes to this place, you just need to balance. I rent a place there for several months. To be honest, the first days, I wasn’t fine with the idea to take a walk in Bo-Kaap. The only time when I was doing it were to catch a Uber 🙈. The reason why? Few days before going to Cape Town, my phone was overwhelmed with notifications about tourists being assaulted there. Add to this, the statements from the director of my internship placement agency who wasn’t at peace with me living there and insisted that I move out to safer place. After a while living like a psycho 😂, I just decided that I couldn’t live like that anymore. I was spending too much money on Uber. Sometimes I would order a cab to go to a place which was only 10 minutes by walk from home. Can you believe it? 🙈 Well, I’m so glad that I change my mind. I was going to miss so many great things 😏 such as sport classes organized by my neighbors ☺️. At the end of my stay since daytime lasted longer, I generally went back home by walk and it always went well. The only annoying thing was that Bo-Kaap is shaped as a ramp. So let’s just say that is it not really convenient when your house is at the top of the mountain 😅
Even through the district is not as dangerous as people describe it, be careful! Avoid walking there in the evening. During your visit, don’t expose your valuable items and don’t go alone in deserted areas. 
Well, enough talk about security 😊! If you are passing by, I recommend to stop at the restaurant Biesmiellah. There, you will eat dishes specific to Cape-Malaysian culture 😋. Then by continuing your tour, you can visit art galeries, the cinema…
The restaurant Biesmiellah
By the way don’t be surprised if you meet people dressed with a blue or green t-shirt asking to take your photo. Theses volunteers who work with the city are here to answer your questions… and to help you to get the perfect shot 📸 😉
Froholically, F. 
More posts about South Africa 👇🏽

(6) Comments

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