Minister Marais' Speech at HWC plaque unveiling at Al-Jaamia Masjid
WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS AND SPORT, ANROUX MARAIS
PROVINCIAL HERITAGE SITE PLAQUE UNVEILING: AL- JAAMIA MASJID/ IMAM HARON GRAVESITE
26 SEPTEMBER 2019
Good day, molweni nonke, goeiemôre,
It is indeed a privilege and absolute honour to address you at this very significant occasion as we unveil the Provincial Heritage Site plaque for the Al-Jaamia Masjid, also the gravesite of Imam Haron in Claremont today.
At the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport we strive to provide for the conservation, promotion and development of heritage resources to facilitate processes for the standardisation or changes, where necessary, to assist with heritage resource management by implementing at provincial level the mandates of the World Heritage Convention Act, 1999 and the National Heritage Resources Act, 1999.
Together with the expert assistance of Heritage Western Cape, the City of Cape Town’s facilitation and valued input from the Muslim Judicial Council, the socio-political and religious significance of this site is now officially acknowledged and will rightfully be promoted in the public domain as a Provincial Heritage Site.
As a result of in-depth research and following the relevant official processes, the socio-political significance of the Al-Jaamia Masjid and gravesite of Imam Haron can now be highlighted.
Imam Abdullah Haron is affectionately remembered having been involved in the liberation movement in order to bring about change in South Africa. Imam Haron specialised in socially relevant religious teaching and saw this role as an opportunity to bring awareness to social inequalities. The classes he held at this very Al-Jaamia Masjid revolutionised the thinking of those who attended. His appointment as Imam signalled a new era in the history of the Muslim community in Cape Town. The Imam’s active interest in the resistance movement was partially sparked by his decision to take the teachings of Islam to black migrant labourers. Despite public ridicule, Imam Haron was a courageous voice openly showing his disdain towards the regime with his passionate stand against discrimination, bigotry and racism. His contribution, at a time when many Muslim clerics were silent, played a critical role in influencing people’s thinking and actions towards the apartheid state.
The Al-Jaamia Masjid is a remnant of the once vibrant community uprooted by the Group Areas Act. The congregation of the Stegman Road Masjid played a pivotal role in the discourse against apartheid. The Al-Jaamia Masjid bears strong association to Imam Haron, the dynamic and much-loved community leader who was tortured and killed for his role in the anti-apartheid struggle. The Al-Jaamia Masjid flourished in spite of the close-knit Muslim community forcefully removed by the Group Areas Act in the 1960s. The members of the Stegman Road Masjid suffered many hardships but resisted and continue the legacy of faith, congregation and upliftment through education. Imam Haron served the Masjid, as well as the Muslim community until his death in 1969 and the work of Imam Haron continues at this Masjid through the programmes he initiated.
The value of the Al-Jaamia Masjid and the legacy of Imam Haron lies in its political and social nature and is of outstanding significance for the memorialisation and acknowledgement of civil organisations and their role and contribution to our democratic society as experienced today.
The Provincial Heritage Site Status will communicate clearly and definitively that the heritage community and agencies consider this site to be a major and important heritage asset that warrants serious and focussed conservation attention from all parties. Provincial Heritage Site Status immediately provides the full protection to these sites described in the National Heritage Resources Act (1999). This is indeed welcomed by the Western Cape Government as we can all agree that the value of the Al-Jaamia Masjid lies in its societal nature, amplified by its socio-political significance.
I look forward to collaboratively sharing the significance of the newly officiated Provincial Heritage Site of the Al-Jaamia Masjid. I thank all who had a hand in the approval of the Provincial Heritage Site status bestowed upon the gravesite of Imam Haron. We are indeed grateful to each stakeholder as you have contributed to a community’s sense of place, belonging and purpose and unleashed its potential to yield information contributing to a wider understanding of the history of co-existence in the Western Cape.
I thank you
Spokesperson for the Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais
083 504 1171