History of the Tana Baru at a glance.

A timeline compiled  from the late Dr Achmat Davids’ book “The History of the Tana Baru”  published in 1985 by the Committee for the Preservation of the Tana Baru.

1772 –archival evidence that it was already unofficially in use as a burial ground for Muslims.
1804 –25 July : the granting of religious freedom by the Batavian Administration which allowed  for the building of a mosque and the allocation of a burial site.
1805 –2 October : the first piece of land on the Tana Baru ( Erf No. 938 &  Erf No.962 ) is granted to Frans of Bengal by the Raad der Gemeente in an effort to retain Muslim loyalty in the event of a British invasion.
1807 –Tuan Guru (Imaum Abdullah Kadi Abdus Salaam), pioneer of the Cape Ulema and he first Qadi ( Chief Imam ) at the Cape, passes on and is buried at the Tana Baru.
1830 –26 November : only now is the land grant of 1805 registered via Deed of Transfer in the name of the “Mohametan Population of Cape Town”.
1842 –25 August : a second piece of land ( Erf No. 682 ) is granted by Governor Thomas Napier during the reign of Queen Victoria.
1857 –Four (4) Imams purchase land for burial on behalf of and for the use of their respective congregations ( from the insolvent estate of Hendricus Adreas Truter ).
2  February  – Hadje Ebriem (Erf No. 678)
26 February – Hadje Samoudien (Erf No. 677 & Erf No. 681)
26 February – Imam Hadje (Erf No. 679) Imam Hadje was Imam of Mosque Shafee
26 March – Hadje Medien (Erf No. 960)
1858 –Imam Hadje delivers evidence to the Cemeteries Committee of the Municipal Commisioners of Cape Town that besides the two public Mahomedan burial grounds at the top of Longmarket Street, there lies between these two a private burial ground purchased by four priests for the use of their respective congregations.
1861 –4 December 1861 – Imaum Abdol Wahab purchases Erf No. 680 ( now 680 & 9410 ) from Jan Wagenmaker ( alias Ajamoudien ) who in turn had purchased it from the insolvent estate of Hendricus Truter on 7 April 1857. Imam Wahab was the Imam of the Jamia Masjid in Lower Chiapppini Street.
1880 –Abubakr Effendi, the Turkish scholar who was responsible for introducing the Hanafi School of Thought to the Cape as well as the red fezzes worn by men and the face-covering worn by women, passes away and is buried at the Tana Baru.
1886 –15 January – Tana Baru officially closed as a cemetery by the authorities.
17 January – Abdol Burns leads a funeral procession of 3000 Muslims through the city to Tana Baru.
For this he and 12 others are arrested on the 20th January.
1920 –The Moslem Cemetery Board fences in the Tana Baru area as depicted in the map, clearly indicating that they regarded the entire area, including the private plots, as a cemetery.
1973 –The Muslim Judicial Council decrees that all Muslim cemeteries are sacred and cannot be desecrated in any way.
1978 –The Committee for the Preservation of the Tana Baru under the leadership of Imam  Manie Bassier is established with a brief to pursue all means to preserve the sacred ground.
1985 –Dr Achmat Davids launches his book “The History of the Tana Baru“.
1998 –The Tana Baru Trust is registered as a legal entity and Imam Abdurahman Bassier becomes its first Chairperson.
2004 –Imam Bassier passes away and Taliep Sydney takes over as chairperson.
2008 –12 new Trustees are elected at the AGM and Faried Allie becomes the third chairperson of the Trust.
2012 –Faried Allie passes away on the (6 June) and on the (3 July) Mogamat Shaheed Jacobs becomes the fourth chairperson of the Trust.
At a public meeting held in November, a resolution to replace the existing Trust Deed is adopted.
2013 –24 September – M Shahied Jacobs stands down as chairperson and Dr M Aadil Bassier becomes the fifth chairperson.
On the 17 November the Tana Baru Trust co-hosts the first historic Muharram March.
2014 –24 September, the first Public Participation Day (PPD1) is held & on the 2nd November, the Trust co-hosts the second annual Muharrah March. 
16 December the 2nd PPD is held.
2015 –On Sunday the 25th October the Third Muharram March is held.
On Tuesday 8th Dec, the Turkish Ambassador, Mr Kaan Esener, facilitates meeting of Trust with the Mayor of Cape Town, Ms Patricia de Lille.
2016 –On Sunday the 17th January an event is held at the Tana Baru to mark the 130th anniversary of the uprising in 1886 sparked by the closure of the Tana Baru as a cemetery. Wide media coverage received.
At the invitation of the CG of the Republic of Indonesia, Trust meets their delegation at the Hilton on the morning of Sat 10th January 2016.
On the 10th February, the chair and treasurer attend a dinner hosted by the CG.
2017 –12 May, Trust participates in Slave Run Mini-expo at the Castle.
4 June, A Muhaimin Bassier steps down as Secretary and Imraan Solomons is elected.
22 June : MJC issues fresh Fatwa confirming Waqf status of Tana Baru.
24 September : Trust co-hosts 5th Muharram March.
28 Sep : Trust meets new Turkish Ambassador Ms Elif Ulgen.
08 Nov : Public Report Back Meeting held at Boorhaanol Centre.
2018 –10 Feb : Trust meets Ambassador Elif at Waterfront.
16 Sep : sixth Muharram March 1440 is held.
2019 –26 May : Chair & Secretary attend Iftaar Tika function hosted by the Ottomans Cricket Club and attended by senior Tika and Turkish government representatives as well as the MJC.
01 Sep : 7th Muharr am March 1441 is co-hosted by the Trust
2020 –30 Aug : because of Covid-19 pandemic, Muharram March 1442 is not held but Trust co-hosts the distribution of food and snacks amongst the children and needy residing in Bo-Kaap
23 Sep : all Covid-19 protocols having been observed, first face-to-face Board meeting held since 18th March.
21st Oct : first Virtual Monthly Board Meeting held.
2021 –25 Sep : Triennial Public Update held at the Bo-Kaap Cultural Hub
2021 –07 Oct. : Trust invited to reception to welcome the Turkish Ambassador-designate 
2021 –08 Oct. : Opening ceremony of the Landscaping & Pathway project at the Tana Baru hosted by TIKA and attended by the Ambassador HE Aysegul Kandas


DAVIDS, Achmat :” The History of the Tana Baru “,
The Committee for the Preservation of  the Tana Baru,
 203 Longmarket Street, Cape Town, 1985;
DAVIDS, Achmat :The Revolt of the Malays  –  a study of the Reaction of the Cape Muslims to the Smallpox & Epidemics of the 19th Century”,
   5 : 47-49, 1984;
DAVIDS, Achmat :Role of the Imaam in 19th Century Cape Muslim Medicine”,
   5 : 19-21, March 1989;
DAVIDS, Achmat :Cape Muslim Responses to Medical Issues in 19th Century Cape Town”,
  30 (2) : 17-20, May 1995;


  1.  The ‘Crescent  of Urban Cemeteries” forming part of Cape Town’s forgotten history were : Newlands Avenue Muslim Cemetery, Claremont Draper Street Muslim Cemetery, Wynberg Church Street Muslim Cemetery Section (Brodie Rd), Kalk Bay Muslim Cemetery, Simonstown’s Seaforth Muslim cemetery section, Greenpoint’s Highlevel Rd Muslim cemetery, etc. (Acknowledgement : Research Info on Old Muslim Cemeteries supplied by Salie Dawjee of the Wynberg Station Mosque -Yusuffia Masjid). Similar ‘buried histories” of other disused / defunct Inner City / urban cemeteries are : Prestwich Street burial grounds / Somerset Rd’s Prestwich Ossuary (facing St. Andrews Church Square), Rustenburg Estate Slave Burial Grounds (at UCT’s Middle Campus – New Africa House / Kramer Bldg) , etc.
  2. The TANA BARU 2010 REMEMBRANCE MARCH / WALK which  took place on Sun, 17 Jan 2010 at 14h00 was to commemorate the TANA BARU CEMETERY UPRISING in the Bo-Kaap on 17 Jan 1886, 124 yrs earlier, which was a seminal / pivotal event, similar in scale & significance to the Soweto Student Uprising  on 16 June 1976
  3. COMMUNITY HEROES : Below, the names of the participants of the 1886 TANA BARU CEMETERY UNREST who were charged with “Public Riot and Assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm” 

     1. Abdol BURNS     
     2. Ta Atchie DAVIDS
     3.  Abdullah CAROLUS
     4.  Abdol LATIEF
     5.  Abno HENDRICKS
     6.  Abdol RABAN
     7.  Gamaldien TITUS
     8.  Mohammad STELLENBOOM
     9.  Alia ABDOL
    10. Mohammad SABAN
    11. Abdol ???? SAAKIE
    12. Abdol STOFFEL
    13. Moqmeen Abdol KARRIEM
    14. John ABRAHAMS
    15. Mimo ??? JONAS
    16. Hadjie Mahmoud NOU
    17. Hermanus Le ROUX
    18. Railoune …… (not guilty)
    19. Johaar ……. (discharged).

    Abdol BURNS, the then community spokesperson & civil rights movement leader, was fined 10 pounds and 2 months imprisonment with hard labour, whilst co-accused numbers 2-7 above were sentenced to 2 months imprisonment with hard labour.
  • A weekly radio programme that was broadcast on Voice of the Cape on Saturday evenings at 7pm
  • ran for seven months from the 16th Jan 2009.
  • anchored by the cultural historian Hadji Ebrahim Rhoda who was also a Tana Baru Trustee.
  • commenced on the eve of the Tana Baru Remembrance March which was held to commemorate the first public protest on record in Cape Town on the 17th January 1886 where Muslims voiced their displeasure at the closure of Tana Baru as a burial site.