And all the Colourful Houses

 A Photo-Series

by Shameelah Khan

This is an Ode to the community of Bo-Kaap.

Throughout this challenging time where the rapidly increasing effects of cancerous gentrification are looming at their doorsteps- they have continued to find ways to be strong. More than this- to open their doors when a stranger knocked- invited her in for tea and shared their stories of memory, generational healing, and love for the spiritual-sacredness that will continue to linger in the cracks of the walls in Bo-Kaap.

Yellow House. Number 77. This House belongs to Aunty Maimoona and family. They have lived here for more than 50 years.

Orange House. Number 79. “My entire family has lived here in Bo-Kaap. We lived here for more than 60 years, generation after generation.” Juleiga Bassier and family.

Bright Blue House Number 81. “This was my grandfather’s house and he had lived in it since 1977 and all my life I have lived here. We couldn’t paint in those years under the Apartheid government- we could only paint our window-frames and that is something I will always remember. That later on- we painted whatever we wanted to and made things beautiful. I have a feeling that we won’t always have this home but for as long as we have it we must pursue our beginnings and preserve the heritage passed down, for example- there are almost 11 mosques here- that says something so powerful about who we are as a people here.” Gamidah and Nadeem Jacobs.

The Other Blue House belongs to the Abrahams Family. “My husband was here from the 70s. They were born here and lived here for longer than 50 or so years. To start off, we need to be one- to form one alliance with those who want to protect Bo-Kaap. We don’t want it to become another District 6. I am in full support because we need to continue to reclaim our space.”

The Pinkish-House. The Samuels Family. They have lived in this Pinkish-House for more than 20 years. “we don’t know what will happen to us…”

The Bright Yellow House. Number 106. A home to the Soeker family for 45 years. “there are Palestinian flags in the sky when you enter Bo-Kaap and if they are still fighting- so will we.”

House Number 108. “I have been here since 1973 and now I am old and losing my eyesight but that is also okay because OI am beginning to feel.” The Hartley family.

House number 110. “Since 1973 we have been here. I was 7 years old at the time. There are many reasons for why this happening to us right now and it is rooted in Apartheid. Our parents were kicked out of District 6 and I think it is the same thing happening now. I am tired of these tourists moving in. I had to build a gate by my house because sometimes they will come right to my door to take photos of my house and me- the Cape Malay eating- now is that right? Is that okay? This is overbearing, and you can’t stop them. It is as if we live in a museum. We just want to rest. We just want to find a moment- just a moment- to rest.” (Wants to remain unnamed)
To those who were not home that day- but very much present in this piece.

The Pink house. Number 93. “We have lived here since the occupation.” Moegamat Mybosch

The Bubble-gum House. Lauren May says, “We moved in in March 2013 and we are absolutely loving it here.” House number 99


Another Bubble-Gum House. Alex Fernandes and Perry Tyukala. 1 year… House number 103.
The Orange House. “The Environment is safe, and we love it here. This is home.” They have lived here for 32 years. House number 120.

The Avacado-Green and Yolk-Yellow House. Number 122. The Mathews Family. Living in this home for 38 years.

The Violet House at the end. Number 109. Faldela Tolkier. “Tell them I teach people how to cook if they ever ask about me.”

To find out more about how to save Bo-Kaap from gentrification, you can read more on the Save our Bo-Kaap, Save our Heritage site here: