While the residential area of Bo-Kaap is an instagrammable destination that always places at least top 5 in the list of most colourful destinations in the world, it comes with a very bleak past. ack during colonial times in the 17th century, the neighbourhood was home to slaves and political prisoners from India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia and other Dutch East Indies countries. The people who lived there weren’t allowed to own properties and could only paint their rentals white. When slavery was abolished, they were able to finally purchase their own homes and all of them chose to paint them in bright colours as an expression of their newfound freedom
This freedom of expression is what makes the area what it is today and is what inspired us to create our own “Bo Kaap”
Part of the Bo Kaap’s charm is the mix of Cape Dutch and Cape Georgian architectural styles. One of their oldest buildings (now a museum)was originally built in 1768 is the oldest house in the area that still is in its original form. The museum showcases local Islamic culture and heritage.
The area is still standing today because of its Cape Malay community who is very attached to its neighbourhood and defends it passionately. Bo-Kaap contains the greatest density of pre-1850 buildings in South Africa, making it the oldest residential area in the country and in Cape Town.
Thanks to the persistence of its inhabitants, Bo-Kaap is in the process of becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site so that the neighbourhood is not tampered with and retains its cultural specificities. Today Bo-Kaap is flourishing as a proud and prominently Muslim district with a mixed and vibrant social life and a strong sense of community.