The Story Behind Radio Jeem & The Muslim Heritage Museum
HERITAGE DAY – South Africa’s first Virtual Muslim museum launched on Table Mountain on National Heritage Day, 24 September 2020.
One of the museum’s founding directors is Yasien Mohamed, a member of the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) and a veteran of its military wing, Apla (Azanian Peoples’ Liberation Army). Mohamed played a major role in converting Robben Island into a museum, depicting the history of political prisoners held on this once notorious island.
The unveiling of the virtual museum caused so much enthusiasm and excitement amongst the Community. The birth of the Virtual Muslim Heritage Museum captured the attention of the Voice of the Cape, Cape Town TV, SABC, ITV, and Channel Islam International as well as Radio Islam. People started telling their stories at the event, which was documented by brother Faizel Sayed of Deen TV.
The mission of the museum is to capture the 350 years of Muslim history in South Africa. It will also record Muslim history as it happens today, with the focus on Africa. The museum’s objective is the recording and preserving Muslim history in South Africa,
The first person to record a narrative was Valerie Truter, the sister of Christopher Truter who was shot dead through the head by apartheid security police in 1976, told the museum’s first story which will be documented in the museum’s archives. Valerie received a framed certificate from Al Jama-ah’s Councillor Faried Achmat, honouring her bravery.
Al Jama-ah’s member of the Western Cape legislature, Hon. Moulana Galil Brinkhuis who hosted the launch described it as a historic occasion. “Muslims share a very rich history and vibrant cultures and traditions in the country which we must preserve,” Brinkhuis said. The museum will start archiving historical documents and stories immediately. A local mosque in Cape Town in Grassy Park has offered one of its floors as an archive platform.
Al Jama-ah’s leader and member of parliament Hon. Ganief Hendricks confirmed that the party has registered the museum as a non-profit company (NPC). The NPC’s secretary is Moulana Tawfeeq Ely who represented Al Jama-ah at the “Youth in Parliament” on Youth Day.
“Muslims in South Africa must preserve their history, as a nation without a memory, has no culture. The Muslim museum will be a great legacy to leave behind for the next generations,” Hendricks said.
During the Dutch occupation, Islam and Congregational prayers were prohibited at the Cape. The first known Congregational prayers in South Africa was held on Table Mountain at the historic Quarry. “Table Mountain was the first sighting of Sheikh Yusuf in 1694 when he was brought on the Voetboog ship by the Dutch as a political prisoner along with his two wives and 49 followers from Indonesia,’ Hendricks explained.
Sheikh Yusuf who spread Islam in South Africa was exiled by the Dutch to Sandvlei near Macassar. The museum will record the history of communities that were close to Muslim communities. The history of the Khoisan will also be a focus area as they lived side by side with the founders of Islam in Sandvlei.