An Afternoon in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town

Rags hang from a line in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town

This is one of my favourite photos of Bo-Kaap – the light reflecting on the pieces of cloth, the clouds falling over Table Mountain and the Bo-Kaap Museum in the middle ground.

Emm in the Bo-Kaap district of Cape Town

Bo-Kaap was the place I most wanted to visit during our whistle-stop visit to Cape Town and we walked over on our first afternoon. I was intrigued by this beautiful place, the most colourful neighbourhood this side of Burano.

A Protect Bo-Kaap sign on a colourful red house

Of course, like everywhere in South Africa, there is a story behind the colourful houses of Bo-Kaap. During Apartheid South Africa, Bo-Kaap was known as the Malay Quarter, a primarily Muslim area.

>The Corner of Church and Chiappini Street, Bo-Kaap

Homeownership by non-whites was prohibited under Apartheid and thus houses were leased to families and painted white.

Looking down a street of colourful houses in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town

People were finally able to own their homes when Apartheid fell and they painted them in bright colours to exert their individuality and to celebrate their freedom.

>A Green Door and House in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town

With doorways like this, it’s little surprise that the neighbourhood is so Instagrammable but Bo-Kaap is an area of significant cultural importance.

A Save Our Heritage Poster on a Yellow House in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town

For years, Bo-Kaap was at risk of gentrification with trendy businesses and developers moving in to push up the price of properties and force locals out.

A Blue House in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town with Clouds Rolling Over Table Mountain in the background

In March 2019, residents of Bo-Kaap won heritage status after a four-year fight. The aim is to protect the neighbourhood and make it easier for local resident to retain their homes.

A One Way Sign in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town

It was a quiet Friday afternoon in December when we visited but I would love to return one day and sample local food and drink.

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