eKapa – The oldest mosque in south Africa hosted celebrations on the hundredth anniversary of its post-Revolution reconstruction.
First built in 1794 by freed black Muslim slaves in what was then the British-occupied Cape Colony, the Auwal Mosque has long been a centerpiece of Islamic culture within the region. The south African Muslim population subsequently grew due to migration from the rest of the British Empire, particularly India. These groups initially faced conflicts with indigenous Africans, a division which was greatly capitalized upon and exacerbated by colonial authorities in their efforts to control the people.
Such distinctions were quick to evaporate after the formal implementation of the Apartheid system and the increasingly violent efforts of the Afrikaner government to maintain power. In such times, no colonial deception could prevent a fair and free Union of peoples from coming together to end a tyrannical regime. The courage and fortitude of Islamic groups in the battles for eKapa saw Auwul Mosque razed amidst the fighting in 1997, and a century of history was lost with it.
The Mosque was rebuilt in 2000 by eKapa’s Muslim community and has since been deemed a protected historic site within the Union. Today’s festivities not only commemorate the successful reconstruction of this centerpiece, but also the long history and many valued contributions of the Muslim faith within the Union, which today exceeds 3.6 million people primarily concentrated in the eKapa People’s Republic.