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The Tana Baru Trust was established for the protection, preservation, and conservation of the historic Tana Baru cemetery (meaning ‘New Ground’ in Bahasa Malayu) in Bo-Kaap, on the slopes of Signal Hill, in the shadow of the Noon Day Gun fired daily from Lion Battery, and nestled above the Bo-Kaap Museum, Wale Street Heritage Mural Wall, historic Malay Quarter cultural precinct, Schotchekloof Civic Centre in the Bo-Kaap, i.e. the cradle of Islam in South Africa.
The historic Tana Baru burial ground is the final resting place of the pioneer forebears of Islam at the Cape. This ancient urban cemetery, which is situated at the top of Longmarket Street in the heart of the inner city of Cape Town, was officially closed on the 15th January 1886, despite vehement and sustained mass public protest from the Muslim community at the time.
The oldewold Bo-Kaap enclave (literally ‘Above the Cape‘) is the traditional home of the Cape Muslim community and hallmarked with unique built environment architectural gems (cobble-stoned streets, narrow lanes / alleyways, steep thorough-fares, mosques, minarets, and melodious muezzins) on the fringe of the City Bowl, with the historic Tana Baru cemetery as an eternal sentinel on the eastern slopes of Signal Hill.
The Tana Baru Trust was constituted in late 1998. Its forerunner, the Committee for the Preservation of the Tana Baru was formed in 1978 as a direct result of the deep anguish the late Imam Abdurahman Bassier, resident Imam of the Boorhaanol Masjid in Longmarket Street at the time, felt and experienced when he witnessed the shameful desecration of the historic Tana Baru cemetery. The late Dr Achmat Davids, the cultural historian, who had done extensive archival research to prove that the whole of the Tana Baru was once the earliest burial ground for the Cape Muslim community, lent his support to the Preservation Committee and together with Imam Bassier and a few dedicated community workers, set about first arresting the desecration of this sacred heritage site and then instituting a restoration programme.
The Tana Baru Trust was the culmination of their sterling efforts to secure an official footing for the preservation and restoration of the oldest Muslim cemetery, generally accepted and recognised, in South Africa