More than 200 years ago, a little hall was built in Rose Street in the historic area of Bo-Kaap. But little did anybody know that it would still be standing, shining bright like the star it really is, so many years later.
The Young Stars Hall was built in the 1800s and used as a preferred spot for meetings, Islamic classes, other community activities and events.
In 1974, Bo-Kaap-based Young Stars Rugby Club bought the hall and started using it as a venue for club meetings.
“Every Friday evening, it was important for us to come to meetings with a blazer and a fez and be properly attired,” said long-standing member, Kader Miller, who added that the club had “very rich traditions”.
The club was established in 1928 and is now 89 years old, with preparations for their 90th anniversary next year, already under way. They are one of the oldest clubs in Cape Town.
The former player said in the 1990s, The Young Stars Hall was upgraded by the club’s Honorary Life President.
Mr Miller then got the idea of undertaking a further restoration at the hall this year, identifying the potential at the hall.
“I could see that the hall could be used again if it should be upgraded and restored,” he said, and the idea was quickly supported by the current chairman of the club, Ebrahim Samaai, and president, Jamiel Alexander.
Mr Miller, who was born in Bo-Kaap and currently lives in Hanover Park, then undertook a three-month restoration project at the hall with no sponsorship and very little external funding.
“This I did also with the intention of never ever asking the club to refund me as it’s a community upliftment project for me and I do it from my heart,” he said.
The restoration inside and outside the hall then gave rise to the Bo-Kaap Cultural Cafe and Art Gallery, a space where tourists could learn more about the history of the club, Bo-Kaap and District Six.
“I came up with this idea after travelling overseas and I thought of starting something where locals and tourists can come together and experience our culture,” he said. “We opened the doors on Monday and the first clients our local designers received were foreigners from London. And the tourists were really impressed to be introduced to something new in the Bo-Kaap area,” he said.
The restoration has certainly impressed the public, particularly as the hall had been looking rundown over the past few years.
Shafieqah Adams from Salt River grew up in Bo-Kaap and also attended Islamic classes at the hall when she was young. When she first spotted the work being carried out, she thought the hall had been sold. “I thought there goes another piece of history. There are very few people from the area who have not had an experience at that hall, whether it was a function, Islamic classes or just hanging out in front with your friends. It really is one of those iconic venues in Bo-Kaap,” she said.
“I just love what they did with it – it looks in a much better state and I hope they keep it looking that way.”
Faghrudien Meyer now lives in Sherwood Park with his family, but his late father was from Bo-Kaap and had a short stint with the club when he was younger.
“My father always used to tell us stories about the club and how much of a family-style club it was. I believe it still is so today. That hall was never forgotten in his talks – always telling us about the songs they sang, the fights they had and the memories that surrounded the hall. When I saw how nice they made it, it was quite impressive to know that with a little bit of tender, loving care, it was more than just the building that was maintained, it was a whole host of memories that was also restored,” he said.
“Well done to everybody who played their part and I am sure the community will go on to appreciate this,” said Mr Meyer.
The Bo-Kaap Cultural Cafe and Art Gallery 64 Rose Street in Bo-Kaap will be open daily. Operating hours for the Pop-Up Eid Market will be from 9am until 4pm and th en from 8pm until 11pm. For details or if there are artists and traders looking to get involved, contact Kader Miller on 082 882 8577.