Just a stones throw above the City Centre of Cape Town, on the slopes of Signal Hill is an area that is referred to as Bo Kaap amongst other names. The area has been inhabited mainly by descendants of artisans and slaves from Malaysia and the Islands in that region. Large parts of the area still has the original cobbled streets, many original houses, built with Cape Dutch and Edwardian influences. Many of these homes dating back to the 17th and 18th century are still in their original form, with obvious renovations, though more and more evidence of modern interventions into the original designs can be seen. These steep narrow streets are a kaleidoscope of colour splashed across the mostly attached narrow frontaged houses, that are interspersed with numerous mosques, in this predominantly Muslim area. Testimony to this is the call to prayer, uttered 5 times a day from the minarets of the various mosques. Whilst the colouring of the houses doesnt seem to have an underlying order within it, there is a coherence that seems to arise out of the randomness. Being located on the slopes of Signal Hill also affords the visitor wonderful 360 degree views of the entire City, which includes the Waterfront, the Atlantic Seaboard, Table Mountain and Lions Head.
I had an opportunity to wander through the area today, camera in hand, and marvelled at how well the cultural heritage of the area has been preserved in the “inner sanctum” so to speak. It is very obvious that the precinct “above the city” had remained intact for a long time, preserving the heritage of the area. Sadly though, cracks are becoming evident as the fringes start to disintegrate, the area seems to have become a victim of commercialisation. Homes are being replaced by businesses, and commercial signage is starting to make an appearance on these colourful facades. This resullts in what was a vibrant community area being under threat of becoming substantially diluted.
Undoubtedly, one of the prime tourist destinations in Cape Town, evidenced by the number of tour buses travelling through the area, and the number of camera toting tourists, capturing the colourful cobbled streets as a memento of having visited the area.
Unless something drastic is introduced by regulation for preservation of this area, it is likely that the battle for retaining what remains of the original character will be lost. It is my hope that the City, too, has noticed what is happening to this historically and culturally significant area and will take the necessary measures to preserve what is left of this colourful haven….The journey continues………………………..
Todays images are views from and of the area
Canon 7d, Canon 18-200mm lens f3.5/5.6, ISO 100, F11, 1/250 sec,FL=40mm
Canon 7d, Canon 18-200mm lens f3.5/5.6, ISO 100, F11, 1/320 sec, FL=18mm
Canon 7d, Canon 18-200mm lens f3.5/5.6, ISO 100, F4.5, 1/40 sec,FL=40mm -left image, FL=18mm right image
Canon 7d, Canon 18-200mm lens f3.5/5.6, ISO 100, F11, 1/125 sec,FL=20mm