brokkie taalmuseum abu bakr effendi

29 June 1880

Abu Bakr Effendi was one of the most well-known imams who helped to develop Arabic Afrikaans at the Cape in the early 1800’s. Arabic Afrikaans was one of the earliest forms of written Afrikaans. Seeing that the slaves’ Islamic religion required them to be able to read the Koran and other religious documents, there were even more literate people amongst them than among the sailors and soldiers of the VOC at a certain stage.

Muslim children originally received religious instruction in amongst others the Dorp Street Madressa in the Bo-Kaap. By 1807 the school had approximately 375 pupils. Part of their religious exercises was to copy texts from the Koran. These were written in “koples” books (exercise books), and seeing that many of them only understood the Cape Afrikaans, new phonetic symbols were designed for Afrikaans sounds in the Arabic alphabet. Various teachers were occupied with this task. In 1877 Abu Bakr Effendi’s book “Bayaan-ud-diyn” was printed, one of the first publications in Arabic Afrikaans. Hy died on 29 June 1880.

Today there are still some members of the Muslim community who can write and understand this Afrikaans in Arabic script.


Gencoglu, H: Abu Bakr Effendi: An Ottoman Alim at the Cape of Good Hope. Centre for Contemporary Islam, University of Cape Town, 2015 (