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The History of Muslim Primary Schools at the Cape

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In eight years time Rahmaniyah Primary will be celebrating its centenary. This will co-incide with 100 years of Muslim Primary education at the Cape and a massive tribute to the countless number of pioneers, educators and funders who made it possible. Central to the establishment of at least four of these Muslim Primary schools in those pioneering days of the early 20th century was Dr Abdullah Abdurahman, a man who left an indelible mark on the Cape’s political and educational landscape until his death in 1940.There were many others, but the scope of this publication allows us only a bird’s eye view of the history of these schools. The names of famous politicians, learned ulema and sporting greats grace these pages both as educators and learners and imparts a sense of pride and connectivity with our past to the readers. This survey has concentrated on gathering data on the establishment of the earlier schools (pre-1950), its various principals down the years, the vision of the schools, and well-known personalities associated with them. The data were supplied by the schools themselves and we apologise for any errors or omissions, although we would highly appreciate if these could be brought to our attention.

The history of our community, however flawed, needs to remain within our collective consciousness if we are to learn from them in building towards a better future. So next time you pass one of these icons and “tut-tut” goes through your head whip out your Companion 3 wherein all the banking details of these institutions are supplied.

This was the first Muslim primary school to be established in 1913 by Dr Abdullah Abdurahman. The school was initially situated in District Six, on the corner of Pontac and Nelson Streets, until it moved premises to Constitution Street. The first principal of the school was Mr Ahmed Gameeldien (1913-1918), followed by Mr Moosa Behardien and a number of temporary principals until 1950. Mr Abdullah Adams took over the reins (1950-1976). He was succeeded by Mr Salie Dollie (1977-1982), followed by Mr Rushdie de Vries (1983-1993). The current principal Mrs Nouwara Mouazer was appointed in 1994.

Prominent religious leaders who over the years have had a close association with the school include Abdullah Johaar Gamieldien, Imam Abdullah Behardien, Sheikh Tape Jassiem, Sheikh Ismail Nawawie Jamodien, Sheikh Ehsaan & Sheikh Shakir Gamieldien. Other staff members that will be remembered by many include Boeta Hakkie Kamaar and Boeta Gamat Peters.

Of the well-known alumni of the school are Faldela Williams (author of the Cape Malay Cook book), Dr Ismail Jakoet, Cassiem Jabaar (SARFU), Mr A Moerat (Moerat De Luxe Travel), and the Mammon Family (SAM Bottling Co.) The school started off as a privately funded project and over the years became state funded, but currently relies largely on the public for its funding.

To provide a holistic, integrated, individualized quality education to learners of all faiths which will make them proud and active South Africans with a commitment to excellence in their work and in their play

Rahmaniyeh Primary School
First National Bank – Market Street Branch (code 201909),A/C No. 50090743441


Although Talfalah Primary operated as a Madrassa school since 1912, it was in 1916 that Emaum Sedick negotiated with Dr Abdurahman to convert the Madrassa into a secular school. Mr Moosa Behardien was appointed as the school’s first principal with a small staff of 3 teachers from its humble premises in Draper Street, Claremont.  When Mr Moosa Behardien was transferred to head up the Rahmaniyyah school, he was succeeded by Mr Curry who in turn was succeeded by Mr Sonny Abdurahman.

In the 1930’s the school was thriving with such well-known teachers as the late Shakoer Toefy, the late Hassiem Edeross and the late Braema Phillips.  With the introduction of the Group Areas Act in the 1950’s, the roll dwindled and the school was forced to move to its present site in 4th Avenue, Sherwood Park.  Sadly the name ‘Talfalah’ was no more but the enthusiasm of the new Sherwood Park Primary’s first principal Mr Cassiem Isaacs, ensured a smooth transition. In 1974 the school boasted an enrolment of 1400 learners, the third largest primary school in the country with 11 double-shift classes.  Mr Isaacs served as principal until 1977. Thereafter Mr Haka Galant took over until 1990, to be succeeded by Mr N Jamodien (1990-1994), Mr I Sadan (1995-2001) and the present incumbent Mr A Kassiem.

Two of the most famous Talfalah alumni are the late Sheikh Salie Abadie and Imam Ebrahim (Sep) Davids.  However, Talfalah blood still courses through the veins of most of the old Claremont community – ask the Galants, the Conrads, the Adams’, the Toefy’s, the Moos’, etc.

We live for our children.

Talfalah Primary School
Standard Bank – Kromboom Road Branch (code 026-209)
A/C No. 072921307

The school, originally situated in Kingsley Road, Salt River, was established in 1917 by Mr Ebrahim Norodien. The school started with 3 classes and had as its first principal Mr Norman Chrissy. After serving the school for 18 years, he was succeeded by Mr J R Strydom (1936-1945), Mr Abdullatief Scello (1955-1975), Mr Kamaal Karriem (1976-1993). The current principal Mr Faried Hartley took office in 1994.

Prominent people who taught at the school include Boeta Yusuf (Prof da Costa), Sheikh Abdul Gamiet Gabier (South African Ambassador to Saudi Arabia), Mr Osman (Meneer) and Ms A Desai (Juffrou). Some of the well-known alumni of the school are Mr Dullah Omar (former Minister of Justice and Minister of Transport), Dr Parker (Nuclear Scientist), Mr Mogamat Bardien (Auditor), Mr Muqbiel Semaar (Pharmacist), Dr Gabeba Willis (nee Abrahams) – Archeologist, and Mr Saadick Beith (Attorney). Since its inception the school was funded from contributions by the public. In later years up until today the school receives financial support from the State.

To embrace and manage change, to uphold high standards and to educate for life within a safe and caring environment which challenges learners to realize their full potential. Credo: Knowledge is Light.

Salt River Moslem Educational Board
Standard Bank – Mowbray Branch
A/C No. 071288759

In 1920 Muslim children attending St Francis School in Simonstown were told that there was no accommodation for them at the school. Although most of the expelled children were accommodated at other schools, the Imam and the Muslim congregation of Simonstown felt that they should establish their own school attached to the Masjid.
On 9 July 1923, the Muslim community unanimously elected Hadji B Manuel as the first manager of the school.

A noteworthy feature of the Simonstown Moslem Primary School was that it was initiated by the Noorul-Islam Masjid congregation as an integral part of the masjid complex and administered by them. Within two years, the Masjid congregation, with their own labour and finances built two classrooms of the school. The first principal of the school was Salie Berdien who has a T3 qualification and teaching experience at the Rahmaniyyeh Institute. He was succeeded by Imam Mogamat Armien Baker (until 1965) followed by Mogamat Adnaan Davis who served until 1968 when the school was permanently closed as a result of the Group Areas Act.
Prominent teachers at the school included principal m Adnaan Davis (Dopey), Mr Karriem, Mr Isgak Adams (Gakkie), and Mr Jadallula Kimmie (Dullie). Boeta Gee Slarmie is also well remembered as the caretaker.

Well known alumni include Dr Ayesha Ahmed, Prof Arief Manuel (Urologist in Toronto, Canada), Imam Abdul Gakiem Raban, Abbas Solomon, Abdurazak Cader, Moosa Davis (school inspector), Anwar Baker, Abduraghman Aziz, and Zubeida Fakier.

This school was established in 1928 by the Muslim community of the Strand. The original premises for the school was on the corner of Abegglen and Fagan Streets and accommodated learners from Grade 1-7.

PIC : Strand3 : The school at its original premises >>

The first principal of the school was Hadjie Johaar Adams (1928-1950), followed by Mr M Armien Arnold (1951-1962), Mr Bienjamien Crombie (1963-1990), Mr Ebrahim Rhoda (1991-1993). The current principal is Mr Mogamat Sadik Fanie who was appointed in 1994.

Strand Moslem School
Standard Bank, Strand Branch (code 033012)
A/C No. 033012

The Muhammadeyah Primary School was established in 1929 by the Muslim Education Trust with a total of 11 children. The first principal was Mogamed Saligh Berdien and the school operated from 103 Batts Rd in Wynberg.  When Mr Berdien stepped down in 1943 he was followed by Mr Ishmael Solomon who had a long innings of 38 years till 1981, Mr Rashard Jedaar (1981-1993), Mr Sedick Gamiet (1994-1996), and the current principal Mr Ebrahim Ismail (1996-present). Two of the school’s most prominent teachers were the late Hadji Abbas Cloete (Radio 786 presenter) and Omar Esau, the president of schools chess in South Africa.  Well known alumni of Muhammadeyah include Shiekh Ismail Gqamana (Imam of Khayelitsha Mosque), Imam Omar Slamang, Ridwaan and Layla Barron (ABC Caterers), Seraaj Jacobs  (Yachting Olympics), Dr Surur Solomon and Dr Nisaar Lilla.

To promote an Islamic Ethos to stimulate creativity and critical thinking in our youth.

Muhammadeyah Muslim School
Standard Bank – Plumstead Branch (code 25409)
A/C 071778179

In 1929 the Indian Moslem Relief Fund under the chairmanship of Mr M Halim, purchased houses in Pontac & Muir Streets to establish the Muir Street Moslem School. In January 1930, the school opened its doors with Mr Phillip Scholtz as its first principal. Mr Schotz was the stepfather of Dr Abdurahman’s deceased brother’s children. Mr Halim was the school’s first Manager and Sheikh Abdullah Behardien the first Arabic teacher, whist Mr Abdullah Adams was the first academic teacher.
Other principals who served the school were Mr Adams, Mr A J Scello and Mr M M Hayet.

The school had 12 classrooms and accommodated about 500 children from Sub A to Standard 3. Most of the people who served on the school committee, were also members of the Muir Street Mosque Committee. The school closed in 1978.

Also known as ‘Schotshies’ this school was set up in 1931 by Dr Abdurahman. The first Muslim school to be established for the Bo-Kaap community, its was originally situated at the ‘old skooltjie’in Pentz Street, now the Boorhaanol Centre. Schotsche Kloof Primary is currently situated in Tana Baru Street, Bo-Kaap.

The first principal of the school was Mr Abdurahman, followed by Mr Khan, Mr Abrahams and Mr Fredericks.  Mrs Dramat was appointed in 1997 and is the present principal. Prominent teachers at the school include Mr Hashiem Edroos, Seena Edwards, Salie Jamodien, Joehara Marcus. Popular staff member Hajee Boeta Doellah will also be remembered for his outstanding contribution to the school.

Well known alumni of the school are Sheikh Seraj Johaar, Zaheer Ryland (rugby), Faiz Gierdien (Maths), Drs Bassier and Dr Ismail.

To promote and pursue excellence in the moral, educational, cultural and physical development of all concerned with the institution to the benefit of the community and the country as a whole. The ideals of equality, justice, democracy, and non-racialism will be the cornerstone of our Institution.

Schotschekloof Primary
First National Bank – Long Street, Cape Town (code 201709)
A/C No. 5006 1767602

Previously known as the Habibia Kokanie Moslem Primary (up until 1993), the school was established in 1946 by the Habibia Kokanie Educational Trust, as part of the development of the Habibia Soofie Masjid Complex at 40 Johnston Road, Rylands Estate. The driving force behind the establishment of the school was H Ebrahim Abdulla “Balu” Parker who passed way 1961 whilst on a collection drive in the then Transvaal.

The school started with 25 classes (Grade 1 to 7) and was initially funded by the community with financial aid from the State. Presently the school is a fully fledged state school. The first principal was Mr M H Allie (1946-1982), followed by Mr E Toefy (1983-1992), and presently Mr M R Gasant who took over the reign in 1993.

Some of the prominent teachers who taught at the school include Mr M H Allie, Mr I Adams, Mr E Albertus, Mr A Hayat, Mrs N Conrad and Mrs R Domingo. Mr E Aziz (Boeta Hiema) and Mr A Dawood (Boeta Doella) who served as caretakers, are also fondly remembered by many.

The school has an impressive alumni list, including Ml Kootbodien Kagee, Qari Abdurahmaan Sadien, Imam Omar Abdullah, doctors Prof M E Parker, Dr Abdullah Mohamed, Dr Rafiq Moosa, Dr Abdullah Mohamed, Dr Abdul Aziz Adams, Dr Usama Kagee, Dr M Cassiem Adam, Drs Abdurahim & Habib Ashtiker, Dr Akbar Ganie, Dr Anwarie Haneker, Dr Shabier Kagee, pharmacists Ahmed Halday, Ayesha Kriel, Gadija Mookrey, Hamied Parker, Hassan Parker, scientists Saalih Allie and Faizel Kariel, singers Allie Mia Chicktay, Altaaf Faki, Abeeda Parker, educationists Tahir Salie, Ashraf Kagee, Ismail Adams, Hidayet Sonday, Armien Jardien, Noor Fakier, advocates Ismail Jamie & Abdul Aleem Parker, business people like the Banderkers (Elite), Mukhtar Karbary, Salie Mohamed, Edroos Royker, the Sayed brothers, Rashaad Adams, architect Allie Harneker, civil engineer & MD Abbas Jamie, journalist Faried Sayed, radio presenter Zubeida Edries and Yasmin Osman, printer Allie Parker, politician Saleem Mowzer, the Chilwan brothers and sister

To develop people holistically as progressive leaders concentrating on their spiritual and intellectual enhancement. The institution should be a centre of excellence creating an environment for the promotion of Islamic Values.
The role players of Habibia Primary School will strive to achieve their vision by :
- Academic excellence
- Developing skills to face the challenges of a dynamic society
- Using technology to stay abreast with changes in the global society
- Produce independent and critical thinkers
- Creating environmental consciousness
- Allowing shared decision making in realizing its vision, and
- Having an interaction between the community and the Institution.

Habibia Primary Governing Body
Standard bank (Kromboom Branch, Code 026209)
A/C No. 072 869771

Comments (2)
Muslim Mission Schools - Moslem Primary Schools of Paarl, Stellenbosch, Worcester, Strand
2 Saturday, 10 April 2010 14:04
Mogamat Kamedien
The Boland heritage activist and renown poet, Moosa Patel briefly gives the brief background of the provision of education to the Paarl Muslim community in the early 20th Century :

Extracts of the section : "Religious and Secular Instruction" :
"It was not until 1917 that a formal school was built on the second plot which Jakoef du Toit had acquired in Weiss Street in 1887. And by 1922 the building was brought into use as a government-aided Mission School under the Cape Provincial Administration. ...a full-time Arabic teacher (Imam Kiemie Gamieldien) was provided and paid by the Education Department. Aziz Latief was the first and only teacher and became the first Principal when the first assistant was added around 1929. In fact, during its 72 years in existence, only three Principals served the school, namely Aziz Latief, Abdul Gamied Khan and Fouzul Latief.

In 1931 the school’s Arabic teacher reached retirement age and the department insisted that his successor should be a qualified teacher on the permanent staff. As the enrolment did not warrant the appointment of another teacher, the community itself appointed and paid a religious instructor, who taught on the premises during school hours. A third member of the staff was only allowed in 1944. By the 1970s, the staff had grown to a total of six teachers, but by then most of the parents were forced to move to Paarl East as a result of the Apartheid Government’s Group Areas Act. The act also forced the closing down of
the school in 1974.

The Paarl Moslem School finally closed its doors during the first week of May 1974, 52 years after its initial establishment, and the entire staff together with its complement of about 200 pupils was transferred
to a brand-new state institution, known as New Orleans Primary School, with Mr Fouzul Latief as Principal. Mr Latief, .., was later promoted to Principal of New Orleans Secondary School, ....."

With reference to Stellenbosch, it is recorded that the first Masjid was built in 1897 and Imam Abdul Gabier was the community’s first Imam. It is believed that the Stellenbosch Moslem School officially opened in
1911 to accommodate the increasing Muslim population.

What can the community historians of the Stellenbosch, Worcester, etc inform Li viewers about the rich cultral history of the educational leadership of its teachers and the educational achievements of the learners of yesteryear.

Recomended reading :
Muslim eduational effort in South Africa : a report
Author: Mogamed Ajam
Affiliation: a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociopedagogy,
University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Published in: journal Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Volume 5,
Issue 2 July 1984 , pages 468 - 473
Muslim Mission Schools
1 Saturday, 10 April 2010 12:06
Mogamat Kamedien
The social histories of the other Muslim Mission Schools in Paarl, Worcester, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley & Fietas [Jo'burg], not mentioned in this Li article , which became victims of the Group Areas forced removals must still be uncovered and written up by community historians for their sterling contributions in providing educational leadership to generations of Muslim youth.

I D Du Plessis maintains that in 1931 eleven primary schools were subsidised by the Cape Provincial Education Department, ...including the seven already described in the aticle : The History of Muslim Primary Schools at the Cape published by Li;

From a brief biography of Dr A Abdurahman :
In addition to the part, which Dr Abdurahman played in promoting the education of Coloured pupils, he also played the leading role in establishing Muslim " Mission Schools " in the Western Cape. The mission school system, or the system whereby religious bodies established schools which the State subsidised in various degrees, was the backbone of the education of Blacks. Abdurahman recognised the specific need of the Muslim community to preserve its cultural identity in religion and other ways, and also the important role, which the school could play in this process.

To this end, he set about establishing primary schools, which he called " Institutes " because he wished to emphasise that they would offer more than secular education, the further characteristics being the religious and cultural heritage of the Muslim children, which stemmed from their ancient and rich oriental background. Professor Mohamed Ajam, who has researched this area, says that Abdurahman cast " a long shadow " over education and especially Muslim education at the Cape through his endeavours.

The first of these schools was the Rahmaniyeh Institute, founded in 1913, following the formation in Cape Town of The Moslem Educational League in January 1912. Abdurahman was Chairman of the League, which gained its funds (the school was started with five hundred pounds) not only from the rich, but also from those who contributed as little as a shilling a month. The Rahmaniyeh Institute, at 117 Aspeling Street, Cape Town, was followed in time by many other schools with the same philosophy, in Cape Town, Salt River, Wynberg, Claremont, Simon's Town, Worcester, Paarl and other places, so that Professor Ajam records by 1953 there were fifteen Muslim schools in the Western Cape, as well as a Moslem Teachers 'Association, founded in 1951.

Yet, although Abdurahman founded these schools for the Muslim community, he did not preach a narrow isolationism. On the contrary, he held that modernisation of the Muslim school in regard to equipment and content was essential to a defined community within a larger setting.

Abubakr Effendi's second son, Hishãm N'imatullah ran a Muslim school in Port Elizabeth for a number of years. It was also under Abubakr Effendi's influence that the first Muslim school for girls was established in Cape Town.

Recommended reading :
Ajam, Mogamed, The Raison d'etre of the Muslim Mission Primary School in Cape Town and environs from 1860 to 1980 with special reference to the role of Dr A Abdurahman in the modernisation of Islam-oriented schools, Cape Town, UCT, Ph D dissertation, 1986;

Prof Robert Shell, the foremost academic South African slave historian highlights the educational leadership of the Abubakr Effendi and his family in the establishment of the Ottoman schools across South Africa ( Kimberley, Port Elizabeth, etc) and right to up to Mocambique)

Robert C.-H. Shell. “Madrasahs and Moravians: Muslim educational institutions in the Cape of Good Hope in the 19th Century.” New Contree, no 51 (May 2006): 101-114.
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