Concept

Cape Malays

Summary
Cape Malays (Kaapse Maleiers, کاپز ملیس in Arabic script) also known as Cape Muslims or Malays, are a Muslim community or ethnic group in South Africa. They are the descendants of enslaved and free Muslims from different parts of the world, specifically Indonesia (at that time known as the Dutch East Indies) and other South East Asian countries, who lived at the Cape during Dutch and British rule. Although the initial members of the community were from the Dutch colonies of South East Asia, by the 1800s the term Malay encompassed all practising Muslims at the Cape, regardless of origin. They initially used Malay as a lingua franca and language of religious instruction, and this was one of the likely reasons that the community were referred to as Malays. Malays are concentrated in the Cape Town area. Cape Malay cuisine forms a significant part of South African cuisine, and the community played an important part in the history of Islam in South Africa. The community played a part in developing Afrikaans as a written language, initially using an Arabic script. "Malay" was legally a subcategory of the Coloured racial group during the apartheid era. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) founded and established a colony at the Cape of Good Hope (the Dutch Cape Colony), as a resupply station for ships travelling between Europe and Asia, which developed into the city of Cape Town. The Dutch had also colonised the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia), which formed a part of the Dutch Empire for several centuries, and Dutch Malacca, which the Dutch held from 1641 to 1824. Key figures in the arrival of Islam were Muslim leaders who resisted the Company's rule in Southeast Asia who, like Sheikh Yusuf, a Muslim scholar from Sulawesi were exiled to South Africa by the company. They were followed by slaves from other parts of Asia and Africa. Although it is not possible to accurately reconstruct the origins of slaves in the Cape, it has been estimated that roughly equal proportions of Malagasies, Indians, Insulindians (Southeast Asians) and continental Africans were imported to the Cape, with other estimates showing that the majority of slaves originated in Madagascar.
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