The Bo-Kaap Neighborhood

6 Aug

The architectural style of Bo-Kaap

The Bo-Kaap is a part of Cape Town that really celebrates the city’s diversity, its culture, architecture and history.

It is a multicultural neighborhood in Cape Town. Something not that easily found as races often live in separate neighborhoods. The people who settled in Bo-Kaap were craftsman, free traders and freed slaves from Indonesia, Java, Celebes, Bali and the Indonesian Archipelago brought over originally by the Dutch East Indies Company.

Bo-Kaap’s character started emerging during the period of 1790 to 1840. The houses are characterized by either Dutch or British influences. Houses are mainly semi-detached but free standing homes can also be found. The facade of the houses is what charms visitors the most. The entrance to the houses are elevated from the streets.

Parapet’s and cornices of various shapes can be found. The parapet is sometimes raised to a central point, but is normally straight.

Houses stand cheek by jowel on narrow streets

The typical Bo-Kaap house is usually about six meters wide. L-shaped houses are also found and have either a small yard or garden in the back. Narrow passages serve as alley ways separating houses and providing entrances to the back of houses.

An unmistakable uniqueness about Bo-Kaap houses is the ” stoeps” (front porches). The height of the stoep is usually elevated from the streets and built up from solid bricks finished with tiles or “klompjes” which is a hard brick from the Netherlands. But the stoep best serves the purpose of being a place where family and friends meet and socialize.

The Cape Malay cuisine found in Bo-Kaap is known for the use of very aromatic spices and herbs that makes Cape Malay cooking so unique. Over 300 years ago,’malay slaves’ brought fragrance and flavour of various spices and herbs such as cloves, all spice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, ginger and coriander to their  foods. Here is a tasty Bo-Kaap recipe for Bobotie.

Oldest mosque in South Africa

Bo-Kaap is South Africa’s oldest Muslim area. Today, there are at least three mosques in the neighborhood including the oldest mosque in South Africa.

Dana and I were lucky enough to be there at noon when the calls/singing goes out from the mosque called the faithful to prayer.  The beckoning sound wafted over the neighborhood and the city.

5 Responses to “The Bo-Kaap Neighborhood”

  1. Neil Freer August 6, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    Hi, Guys,
    Sounds like a great recipe, thanks. Need to know the correct pronouciation of the bobotie word, accent on what syllable, tie is tie as in necktie or tee?
    Do you find that you have to eat only cooked foods or can you risk raw, sanitary and all that?

  2. Maryl August 6, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    Love the architecture and bright, clean colors. Reminds me a bit of that iconic street in San Francisco.

    • Jill August 7, 2012 at 1:21 am #

      Hi Neil:
      Grocery shopping here is just like home. We eat all of the same things except adding fresh papaya. No sanitary worries at all. You pronounce it with the emphasis on the last syllable as you guessed. so it is boboTEE.

      • Neil Freer August 7, 2012 at 3:21 am #

        Curious, I went here and found that 1 Rand = .12 of a U.S. dollar. So……….for one U.S. dollar you get 8 Rands plus a torn up piece of a 9th………..?? Sorry………arffff. Seriously, when you go to a bank to make an exchange how is the fractional part handled?

      • Jill August 7, 2012 at 5:48 am #

        When we exchange the .12 is figured into the total of the exchange. In our heads when we are paying we figure 8 Rands to the dollar.

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