Wednesday, October 30, 2013

You're alive for a purpose

One of my purposes is to to walk the streets and paths of the world, as an observer-flaneur, even where there are no streets and paths visible to the unseeing eye.

That's why I pray for eyes to truly see with.

I took this moody photo of the Jamia Mosque at dusk on Sunday; I could not resist it, I almost fell out of my car when it beckoned to me from the steep corner of Chiappini and Castle streets in Cape Town's colourful Bo-kaap district, on the slope of Lion's Head.

Without intending it, Sunday afternoons have become trawling times for me, that's when I aimlessly and curiously trawl my adopted city looking to be smacked over the head by its wonders.

According to a just discovered (today) and wonderful website,, the Jamia Mosque was established in 1850 in Lower Chiappini Street.

According to the website, this Shafee mosque was the first mosque which was specially granted land for a mosque site; which is also why it's known as Queen Victoria Mosque, because of the patronage of the British Crown. John Muir confirms this in his 2013 edition of 'Walking Cape Town': the British Crown gave the land to the Muslim community in 1850.

Very interestingly this fourth mosque is adjacent to the disused stone quarry where the first Jumu-ah (Friday Congregational prayer) was read in South Africa in 1790.

"It is the biggest mosque in Bo-Kaap and the fifth eldest in South Africa. The minaret was constructed in 1932 and later enlarged ... to accommodate the Hiempu."

The meaning of the next paragraph is unclear to me, but piques my curiosity; I'll have to find out more, can anyone help me?

"The Jamia Mosque is the main Shafee Jumu-ah Mosque in Bo-Kaap and serves as a reminder of the Cape Muslims in the Battle of Blaauwberg and the Battle of the Axe, in order for the construction site for a mosque to be acquired."

A bit more about It's described as a website "about Bo-Kaap and is updated by people who live or have previously lived in Bo-Kaap."

It was started in June 2002 by Rishka Booran-Johnson ... then resident of, and a tour guide within the Bo-Kaap, and in 2010 [was] still run by her.

"Both my parents, all aunts and uncles were born and raised in the BoKaap too," she writes. I love passion projects like these!

My curiosity is also piqued by the street name Chiappini. Was it named after Anthonio Caspar Melchior Balthazar Chiappini, a merchant born circa 1778 in Florence, Tuscany and who died on 30 August 1860 in  Wynberg, and then buried in the Dutch Reformed Church Cemetery, Observatory?

In his petition for permission to remain at the Cape, dated 13th July 1807, presented to then Governor of the Cape, he stated that he was a native of Florence, and had arrived at the Cape on his return from Calcutta, to England in the Danish ship Dannebrog, in the month of October 1803, from circumstances was induced to stay in the Cape and on application to the then existing government procured permission ot the Governor to remain at the Colony.

I wonder what the life purpose of Anthonio Caspar Melchior Balthazar Chiappini was, and why - possibly - was a Cape Town street named after him?

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