Bo-Kaap woman launches collection of stories, poetry

From left are Mogamat Kamedien, Whafieka Martin, and Galiem and Galieja Martin, the parents of the author.

While recovering from a back injury, Whafieka Martin took to writing poetry and stories about life in the Bo-Kaap and after a few weeks she had the makings of a book, Stories of a Bo Kaap Girl.

Ms Martin, a copy editor, researcher, and high court legal translator who also specializes in Arabic and Islamic jurisprudence, has combined all of her skills to become an author.

“With all the rest, I read a lot, and I read about why we do things the way we do them and I realised I knew very little about these traditions. We did things because of our parents said so and this was actually a journey of self discovery,” said Ms Martin.

“So it was a research-driven task embedded with stories from my childhood, so the stories are real. I didn’t think anyone would be interested in it but my family and friends supported me and I was given good advice by other authors,” she said.

Ms Martin says the focus of the stories is the cultural practices of the Cape Malay traditions that she grew up with and still is part of.

“The language, the food, and the way we speak to each other and how we address our elders and the origins of the things we do, it’s not necessarily about Islam but about a Muslim that grew up in this area and the experiences that this little girl had,” she said.

Orders can be made via the Bo Kaap Girl Facebook page and collected at the Voice of the Cape offices, books can also be bought at Mariam’s Kitchen and Bismiellah restaurant.

Whafieka Martin and best selling author Yusuf Daniels at the launch.
A friend and supporter Shafeeqah Davids with the author Whafieka Martin.
The author with her primary school teacher, Naseeba Edwards.
A former student, Usamah Isaacs and the author.