Thousands take part in Muharram March

Marchers walk through the streets of Bo-Kaap

Thousands of people from across Cape Town gathered in Bo-Kaap to participate in the Muharram March on Sunday September 16, which marked the start of the first month on the Islamic Calendar Year.

This year’s theme paid tribute to the pioneers of the Islamic faith and their countries of origin. Dressed in white, the participants walked through Bo-Kaap historical areasstarting from Boorhaanol Centre, the very first mosque that wasgiventoawomantoTana Baru, the first official cemetery that was given to the Muslim community in the 1800s, and where most of the faith’s local pioneers are buried.

The organiser,Mohammad Groenewald, said they chose the route because they wanted to teach the youth about the area’s history.

He said Bo-Kaap was the cradle of Islam in South Africa, and a living memorial of the history, culture and institutions of the Muslim way of life.

The route also passed the Auwal Mosque, the Nurul Islam Mosque, the Bo-Kaap Museum and Mosque Shafie, before ending at Tana Baru.

“We have to pass the knowledge onto the next generation,” he said.

“This has to remind us where we come from, whether we came here in chains as slaves or we came as political prisoners, we all come from somewhere,” said Mr Groenewald.

He said a major challenge facing South Africa was xenophobia.

“We want to remind people that there was once a time in Cape Town’s history that various people were sent here against their will. Today others are fleeing the violent countries, and it’s time we shared the solidarity and understood their situation,” he said.

RukeaPetersonsaidshe enjoyedthemarchbecauseit brought unity among the people.

“This march is important and very close to my heart because we get to be reminded of where we come from, and that’s the only way we’d know where are going. It’s great to pay tribute and commemorate the lives of the people who brought Islam to South Africa,” she said.