Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Cape Malay Visitors

Back in 1993, when my family and I were in Cape Town, South Africa we met a Cape Malay couple Mohammad Sa’it Joseph and his wife Nabaweyah. They have one son, Achmat and two daughters, Wisaal and Ilhaam and all of them are married with childrens. Nabaweyah claimed that her forefathers were from Java and mixed with Dutch. Muhammad was not sure but belived to a Bugis descent. They were the first Cape Malays who invited us to their homes and hosted us. Later we met with several others, but Joe and Nabaweyah amongst that maintain a close relation with us.

After 13 years, they came to Malaysia for a visit. My family and I got the opportunity to host them in return. For the past several years, they have made more contacts with many Malaysians who were in Cape Town. It was indeed a pleasurable time to meet them again after many years. During their visit we brought them to Alor Setar, Hutan Kandeh, Langgar, Pokok Sena, Kubur Panjang, Tobiar, Sungai Petani, Kuala Kangsar, Shah Alam, Sepang and many other places around Kuala Lumpur for sightseeing, attended a Malay wedding and met my relatives. Apart from staying with us, they also stayed with several other friends.

We manage to learn a lot about the Cape Malay’s history. They were brought by the Dutch to open the Cape about 310 years ago. Today they have substantial numbers in the Cape. Mohammad said that he and his wife are Javanese decent. Although some percentage had a mixture with other Muslims but about seventy-five percents are still proper “Melayo”. Most Malays are the artisan, but many are professionals. As Mohammad Sa’it said, the current Western Cape Premier, Mr. Ibrahim Rasool is a “Proper Melayu”. It was astonishing to see and found out that after 310 years suppressed by the apartheid system of the whites they still maintained a strong attachment to Islamic values and “Malay Sopan[g]” as they call it. I found there are many similarities between the Cape Malays and us, Malays such as their looks, their lifestyle and their language. They have lost their language about 150 years ago and they speak Afrikaans, but they still use several Malay words such as “sopan, selamat, maaf, terima kasih banyak, nenek, opah, bunga rampai, baca, hasad, tulis, puasa, buka, ratib, tahlil, sembahyang, kopiah, tuan guru, alif diatas, alif dibawah, alif didepan, tamat, keramat, tanah baru, jenazah, tanah baru, lebaran, jamban[g], kaparang, baris, tukang mandi, kapan, mandi, pisang, kelapa, piring, nasi, kari pinang, acar, bubur, kampong, kilat, guntur”. Perhaps there are many more!

However, I noticed that they have distinct trait and their diets are westernized. During their visit, they took a strong interest to see and learn more about Malay lifestyle and culture.

It was indeed a nice experience to have them and to return their generosity.

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