Cape Town is home to a vastly diverse populace; many members of this community have lived through some very challenging and difficult times in the city. As a result, countless fascinating stories and intriguing family histories have emerged from various population groups, none more so than from the Cape Malay community of Cape Town. The Heritage Museum in Simon’s Town tells the very personal story of a Cape Malay family adversely affected by the draconian laws of South Africa’s apartheid past, as well as outlining the arrival of their ancestors in the country and an exploration of the early slave trade.
A rich, diverse history explored
The Heritage Museum pays tribute to the region’s rich Cape Malay history and their cultural influence, tracing it from as far back as 1743. This was when Simon’s Town became an anchorage for the Dutch East India Company and saw a steady influx of people of Dutch Batavian descent into the area. The journey explores life in the Cape well into the last century and examines the effects on a family and a community of apartheid-era rule.
A family home and a family story
The museum was originally the home of the Amlay family, who were forcibly removed in 1975 after the town was declared a whites-only area under apartheid law. At the time, more than 7 000 people in the Cape were forced from their homes following the implementation of the Group Areas Act, which segmented residential areas along racial lines. Subsequent to the demise of apartheid, the Amlay family were the first non-white family to return to Simon’s Town after the arrival of democracy, and family member Zainab “Patty” Davidson established the museum.
What to expect
Visitors can expect to learn more about the early residents of Simon’s Town and the intricacies of Muslim culture and Cape Malay heritage. The displays include photographs, traditional attire and ceremonial artifacts. There are also a number of walking tours on offer from the museum.
The Heritage Museum is open from Tuesdays to Fridays from 11h00 to 16h00, on Saturdays between 11h00 and 13h00, and on Sundays by appointment.
Tel: +27 (0)21 786 2302
Address: Amlay House, King George’s Way, Simon’s Town
- Phone: 021 786 2302
- Website: http://www.simonstown.com/museum/sthm.htm
- Physical Address: Amlay House, King George's Way
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