Cape Town on Foot: From the Slave Lodge to Bo-Kaap
You are now walking through the historic heart of the Bo-Kaap, which for many people, is still known as the Malay Quarter. These houses were constructed between the 1750s and 1850s and were first occupied by Muslims from the latter part of the eighteenth century.
Slaves and exiles communicated in a lingua franca known as 'Melayu'. In its written form, Melayu was an Arabic script. It became the religious language of the Cape Muslims, used in their prayer rooms. It is possible that the word Melayu led people to speak of the Malay Quarter.
It is incorrect to label all Muslim people who came to the Cape as 'Malay'. Barely one percent of slaves and exiled persons originated from Eastern Malay, now known as Malaysia. About 34% of the slave and exiled population came from India, 22% from the Indonesian region, and the rest came from the coast of Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. So it is preferable to speak of Cape Muslims. Presently about 70% of the Bo-Kaap residents are Muslims. The Muslim population of Cape Town is approaching 400 000, while country-wide it's about two million.
I'll meet you a little further on.