As a Cape Malay, woman, I grew up with highly detailed traditions. Living in a Western- influenced society in this day and age; many of these traditions are slowly fading before my eyes. Traditions my father grew up with has leaked over to my generation but many didn’t make it through (I’ve never seen ratieb, something he saw regularly) and gradually as the generations come to pass I can see these traditions going sparse.
Traditions intertwined with religion, many a folk would say the end is nigh. With the younger generation coming up with their own un-Islamic traditions e.g. going to the mall on Eid night, girls and boys dressing up in un-Islamic garb, mixing with each other without adult supervision and doing all sorts of forbidden things.
I’m glad to have been in a generation that has experienced the rich traditions our culture has, (before internet, reality shows and malls being the dictator of one’s world).
When I was a child our Eid day would consist of wearing the outfit your mother had made for you, breakfast at Grandma’s, visiting all neighbours in hopes of accumulating lots of money. Money is given to kids as gifts, you’re not a kid anymore once you’re 14yrs + but nowadays if you’re lucky, a neighbour would say, “Oh here’s something for airtime” and you’ll get a R5. There were no mobile phones before I was in high school. You’ll be offered what ever is on the table; sweets, nuts, donuts, finger foods, juice etc..
After lunch with the whole family, you’ll visit other family members or mom would host supper for the other side of the family.
These days its quite similar, I can’t speak for the teens of today who parade in prom dresses and visit malls at night without adult supervision as I have no idea what they get up to. But as for my own family; since I’ve moved house and Grandma’s no longer with us to keep the family together, we had to start new traditions. It was tricky at first, family all scattered without the heart of the home; that was Grandma, nobody knew where to go for lunch and also as the immediate families grew and my aunts become grandma’s themselves, things changed. The kids still visit neighbours with hopes of getting money and because my neighbourhood is new (a brand new neighbourhood developed where there was only sand and bush before) the adults are all relatively the same age, so are the kids, we’re mostly Muslim and get along fairly well. The Adults also walk to neighbours to greet them and wish them Eid Mubarak (Blessed Eid)
Everyone has lunch with their own immediate families and thereafter its free-for-all. We have desert at home or go visit family members and receive desert there.
My brother who’s married and doesn’t live with us (my parents, my husband and I) has lunch with his immediate family and come to us for desert.
Since my uncle who lives in my Grandma’s house got married to a woman who gets on very well with her in-laws (us), after desert at home, we go to her for supper and most of the other uncles, aunts and cousins meet us there and we all have a merry good time talking and laughing the night away.
I’m not like my Grandmother, I don’t know every duah. I don’t know what to do on the various significant Islamic dates or what they even mean. (I’m terrible, I know) but this is good motivation to learn my faith. To learn the significance of these dates and act out the rituals that have been passed on for decades. I’ll try to keep up our heart-warming traditions in hope that my son and future children will also experience the virtuous customs of our culture and our Faith.
* Our Cape Malay culture is separate to our faith. Islam is a way of life that is not restricted to one ethnicity. E.g. Muslim Indians have a different culture due to their specific historical background and different traditions, same goes for Asian, Arabic, American, European or even Xhosa Muslims.