Bo Kaap, Cape Town
“Famously known as a Malay neighbourhood (it is sometimes referred to as "the Malay quarter”), the Bo-Kaap has always been racially and culturally diverse, first housing Europeans and some Asians in the 18th century. After slavery was abolished in 1834, many freed slaves made the area their home. Islam was brought to the Western Cape in the 17th century and the Bo-Kaap soon became a hotbed for its teachings. The religion was attractive to former slaves, who rejected the Christianity of the British and the Dutch. South Africa’s oldest mosque is in the Bo-Kaap.
Although it is predominantly Muslim, historically up to 40% of the neighbourhood was Christian. The area remained racially and culturally diverse until it was designated a Malay area under the Group Areas Act. It remained one of the only sections of the central business district (CBD) that housed nonwhites throughout apartheid.
But the Bo-Kaap is changing. Booming demand for prime real estate in the CBD has made the neighbourhood increasingly appealing to outsiders. Its famous cobbled streets, coloured houses and homey atmosphere, coupled with relatively low house prices compared with other parts of the CBD, make it especially attractive to young creative types who want to get off the beaten track but still stay close to the city hub. In some parts of the Bo-Kaap, you are now as likely to meet a young, blonde German-born filmmaker, a skinny-jeans-wearing, soya-cappucino-drinking fashion editor or a Jo'burg business executive as you are an imam or artisan at one of the neighbourhood’s many corner shops.“