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Kramat of Sheikh Yusuf
Macassar, Western Cape

Franklin Kaye KENDALL: Architect



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34°03'51.22" S 18°45'02.81" E

Die Kramat van Sjeg Yusuf, Faure

Die Kramat1 van Sjeg Yusuf (Abadin Tadia Tjoessoep)2 op 'n klein heuwel naby die mond van die Eersterivier in Makassar, Faure, is 'n terrein waarheen Kaapse Moslems oor die laaste drie eeue pelgrimstogte onderneem. Yusuf is op 23 April 1699 oorlede en op die heuwel begrawe. Volgens predikant en skrywer, Francois Valentyn (1666-1727), wat sy graf in 1705 besoek het, was dit "een cierlyke Mohammedaansch tombe, wat van zeer hoog opgezette steenen, verheerlykt was".3 Dit is nie heeltemal duidelik of hy van 'n hoog opgeboude graf of 'n struktuur daaroor praat nie.

Dié tombe moes mettertyd veranderings en verbouings het en volgens Biskop Patrick Griffith (1798-1862) wat dit meer as 'n eeu later op 25 Januarie 1839 besoek het, het dit heel anders daar uitgesien:

"... proceeded to a Mr Cloete's where we took horses and road (sic) to a Malay Mosque [i.e. the kramat] situated on the summit of a hill, to which we ascended by a rude Stone Stair Case, rather Circular and partly cut out of Limestone rock, by an hundred steps. We left our horses below tied to the door of a Caravansery where the Pilgrims who come every year from Cape Town and all around, lodge while they go thro' their devotions. Both Lodging House and Mosque are at present deserted and we cd. only see the Exterior of both. The Mosque has a small Mineret (sic) in the centre and contains the Tomb of some Prince and Priest of the Sect. The Building is square and low with a portico: the windows are screened within and all that could be seen through some chinks in the walls was some drapery. A curious sight, however, exists outside: graves covered with white Clothes, five or six of which graves are enclosed together with a low wall round them; two or three more are apart; each has a round black stone at the head round which a Malay handkerchief is tied, with another black stone at foot, represents the feet, so that with the white sheet over the body, one wd. imagine at first view that it was a corpse was directly before him, the representation of it is so like reality. These White cloths (of calico) are renewed every year and we found some sixty or more rotten ones under each of the last white Coverings."1

Die terrein is in 1862 deur die imam van die Jamia-moskee in Chiappinistraat, Abdol Wahab, aangekoop,5 maar die gebou het tot vroeg in die 20ste eeu bewaar gebly, hoewel dit by verskeie geleenthede klein veranderings en herstelwerk moes ondergaan het.

Die Oostenrykse wetenskaplike, diplomaat en ontdekkingsreisiger, Karl Ritter von Scherzer (1821-1903) het die Kaap in Oktober 1857 aan boord die Novara, op 'n omseilingstog van die wêreld, aangedoen. Hy het die volgende waardevolle beskrywing, deurdrenk met sy eie voor- en afkeure, nagelaat:

"The following morning we drove to a hill, ahout a mile and a half distant from Zandvliet, known as Macassar Downs, on which is the spot of interment, (Krammat or Brammat), of a Malay prophet.

This individual, so honoured in death, was, if we are to believe the Malays, a direct descendant of Mahomet, named Sheikh Joseph, who, expelled from Batavia by the Dutch Government for political reasons, settled in the colony about a century and a half ago, and died and was buried in the neighbourhood of Zandvliet. An especial deputation came over from Malacca to Cape Colony to fetch away the corpse of the defunct prophet, for conveyance to the land of his birth; but at the disinterment it happened that the little finger of the prophet, in spite of the most persevering research, could nowhere be found. This circumstance appeared to those simple believers sufficient reason for erecting a monument over the spot in which the finger of a Malay prophet lay hid from view. Even to this day the Malays from time to time perform a pilgrimage to the Colony and celebrate their religious ceremonies at the Mausoleum. Four followers of the prophet are buried with him, two of them Mahometan priests, who are regarded with much veneration by the Malays.

An extensive flight of stone steps leads to the tomb, the exterior of which is very insignificant, and, but for a small pointed turret, hardly differs from an ordinary dwelling-house. On entering, a low-roofed vault is visible, a sort of front outhouse, which rather disfigures the facade, and much more resembles a cellar than the portal of a Mausoleum. Above the arch of this vault an Arabic inscription has been engraved with a stylus but this is so painted over in brick colour that it has already become almost illegible. Judging by the few words that have been deciphered, it seems to consist of the first propositions of the Koran.

The inner room, provided on two sides with modern glazed windows at irregular intervals, is about the size of an ordinary room of 12 feet long, 9 wide, and 7 high (3.66m long, 2.74 wide, and 2.13 high). In the middle rises the monument, to which access is had by some more brick steps. Immense quantities of unwashed white linen cloth are heaped upon it, which seem occasionally sprinkled with a brown odoriferous liquid (dupa). As at the head of Sheikh Joseph, so at his feet several figures, resembling those in enamel used to ornament tarts, are drawn upon the linen cloth with the overflowings of the unguent. These have undoubtedly been formed accidentally, and it appears wrong and unfair to attribute to them any more recondite significance. The monument rests upon four wooden pillars, with pyramidal pinnacles or ornaments, and is richly decorated with fine white muslin, which gives to the whole very much the appearance of an old-fashioned English "fourposter," with its costly drapery and curtains. While the curtains are spread out all around, several small green and white bannerets stand at the upper and lower end of the sarcophagus. The whole interior is, as it were, impregnated with the incense which devout Malay pilgrims from time to time burn here, especially after the forty days' fast (Ramadan), or leave behind upon the steps of the tomb in flasks or in paper-boxes. On such occasions, they always bring wax-candles and linen cloth as an offering, with the latter of which they deck the tomb afresh, so that a perfect mountain of white linen rises above the stone floor. During their devotions they unceasingly kiss this white mass of stuff, and as they are continually chewing tobacco, this filthy habit produces disgustingly loathsome stains.

On the same hill which boasts the tomb of Sheikh Joseph, there are also, in ground that is common property, nine other graves of eminent Malays, enclosed with carefully-selected stones, and likewise covered over with large broad strips of bleached linen cloth, protected by stones from any injury by weather or violence. At the head and foot of each individual interred, is a single stone of larger size. Formerly the black inhabitants of the neighbourhood made use of this store of linen cloth to make shirts for themselves, without further thought upon the propriety of the matter. Latterly, however, a shrewd Malay priest spread a report that one of these ebony linen stealers had lost all the fingers off one hand, since which the graves of those departed worthies remain inviolate and unprofaned.

At the foot of the hill are some small half-fallen-in buildings, near a large hall, painted white, red, and yellow, consisting of a small apartment and a kitchen, the whole in a most dirty, neglected, and desolate condition. At this point the Moslems must have accomplished certain prayers, before they can climb the hill and proceed to visit the tomb. Over the door of this singular house of prayer some words are likewise engraved in the Arabic character, which, however, are now entirely illegible.

On quitting the Malay Krammat, we next undertook a tolerably difficult walk to the Downs or sand-dunes, which at this point extend along the entire coast line, on which the wax-berry shrub, as already mentioned, grows wild in vast quantities, and visibly prevents the further encroachments of the moving sand. The Eerst Rivier (First River) may be regarded as the limit of demarcation between the sand-dunes and the soil adapted for vegetation."6

'n Britse joernalis en historikus, Ian Duncan Colvin (1877-1938), beskryf sy besoek aan die Kramat vyftig jaar later in die begin van die 20ste eeu:

"It was in springtime that we made the pilgrimage, in October, the springtime of the south... We passed through cow-scented pasture and the cornlands of Zandvliet, and so towards the sea, guided by the white star of the tomb.

It stands upon a sandstone rock which the Eerste River bends round on its way to the sea, and you can hear the breakers roaring, though unseen behind the sand-dunes. A little wooden bridge crosses the river beside the drift... On the farther side the little hill rises steeply, and under it nestles a row of very ancient and dilapidated cottages. One of them is used as a stable by the pilgrims and another as a mosque, and upon its porch you will see a little notice in English that 'women are not allowed inside the church', a warning signed with all the weight and authority of the late Haji Abdul Kalil... Inside, this little chapel is touchingly primitive and simple, with blue sky showing through the thatched roof, and a martin's nest plastered on the ceiling of the little alcove. Between these cottages and the stream is a field of sweet marjoram, no doubt grown for the service of the shrine, and the way up the hill is made easy by a flight of steps build perhaps centuries ago, and ruinous with age. With their white balustrades, and overgrown as they are with grass and wild-flowers, they are very beautiful, and in pilgrimage-time we may suppose them bright with Malays ascending and descending. We mounted them to the top, where they open on a little courtyard roughly paved and encinctured by a low white wall. On the farther side, opposite the top of the stairs, is the tomb itself, a little white building with an archway leading into a porch. Beyond is a door, of the sort common in Cape farm-houses, divided into two across the middle. Of course, we did not dare to open it and peep inside; but I am told by a Mahomedan friend that the inner tomb is of white stucco with four pillars of a pleasant design. It is upholstered in bright-coloured plush, and copies of the Koran lie open upon it. The inside of the room is papered in the best Malay fashion, and over the window is a veil of tinselled green gauze. From the roof several ostrich eggs hang on strings, and altogether it is the gayest and brightest little shrine. The ostrich eggs hanging on their strings made me think of a much more splendid tomb which Akbar, the first greatest of the Moguls, build for his friend Selim Chisti, a humble ascetic, in the centre of the mosque at Fatehpur Sikri.7 If any of my readers have made a pilgrimage to that wonderful deserted city, they will remember the tomb build of fretted marble, white and delicate as lace, in the centre of the great silent mosque of red sandstone – surely the finest testimonial to disinterested and spiritual friendship that exists in the world. And, if they look inside, they will recollect that around the inner shrine of mother o’pearl hang ostrich eggs just as they hang in Sheik Joseph’s tomb on the Cape Flats. But this digression is only to show that the Malay of Cape Town knows what is proper to the ornamentation of kramats. The shrine is tended with pious care, kept clean and white by the good Malays – a people of whom it may be said truly that they hold cleanliness as a virtue next to godliness."8

Hierdie beskrywing kom ooreen met dié van Scherzer en 'n foto in die Elliot-versameling in die Kaapse argief. Die minaret wat deur Biskop Griffith genoem en deur Scherzer geïllustreer is, en moontlik van hout gemaak was, het intussen verdwyn.

In 1925 het die Indiese filantroop, Hadji Sulaiman Sjah Mohamed Ali, opdrag vir 'n nuwe tombe gegee en is die huidige vierkantige en gekoepelde Moghul- of Delhi-inspireerde struktuur opgerig. Die argitek was F.K. KENDALL wat van 1896 tot 1918 in vennootskap met Herbert BAKER praktiseer het.

Die kramat vorm deel van die sogenaamde beskermende "Heilige Sirkel van Islam" wat strek van die kramatte teen die hange van Seinheuwel bo die klipgroef waar die eerste openbare Moslemgebede aan die Kaap gehou is, deur die kramatte op die rug van die heuwel en die kramat van Sjeg Noorul Mubeen by Oudekraal, en om die berg na die kramatte van Constantia, Faure, Robbeneiland, terug na Seinheuwel.

Sjeg Yusuf van Makassar (1626-1699)

Sjeg Yusuf (Abadin Tadia Tjoesoep) is in 1626 te Gowa by Makassar (Mangkasara), op die suidwestelike punt van die Sulawesi-eiland (voorheen Celebes) langs die Straat van Makassar, gebore. Toe die Portugese dit vroeg in die sestiende eeu bereik het, was dit 'n besige handelshawe waar Arabiese, Indiese, Javaanse, Maleise Siamese en Chinese skepe aangedoen en hulle produkte geruil en verkoop het. Met die koms van die Nederlanders, wat die speseryhandel wou monopoliseer en Britse deelname daaraan wou stuit, is die tradisie van vrye handel aan die begin van die 17de eeu omvergewerp. Nadat hulle die fort van Makassar ingeneem het, is dit herbou en as Fort Rotterdam herdoop. Van hier het hulle die vestings van die Sultan van Gowa geteiken.

Toe hy agtien jaar oud was, het Yusuf op 'n pelgrims- en studietog na Mekka vertrek waar hy verskeie jare deurgebring het. Met sy terugkeer het hy die Nederlanders in Makassar vermy en hom in Bantam in Wes-Java aan die hof van Sultan Ageng (Abulfatah Agung, 1631-1695) as onderwyser en geestelike rigter gevestig. Hy het die sultan se seuns onderrig en met een van sy dogters getrou. Hy was deeglik in die Shari'ah (Moslem kode en godsdienstige wet) onderlê en diep betrokke by die mistieke aspekte van sy geloof met die gevolg dat sy reputasie as 'n vrome persoon en heilige kenner en geleerde vinnig versprei het.

Hoewel die Nederlanders die handel op Java beheer het, het Bantam 'n sterk mate van onafhanklikheid behou. Yusuf was 'n vurige teenstander van die VOC en het en ook 'n rebellie teen die Europeërs gelei toe 'n ouer vredesooreenkoms tussen hulle in 1656 gebreek is. 'n Nuwe ooreenkoms is in 1659 bereik, maar 'n interne tweestryd in die Sultanaat het in die VOC se kraam gepas. Die sultan se seun, later as Sultan Hadji bekend, het met die hulle saamgespan teen sy vader en jonger broer wat voorkeur aan die Britse en Deense handelaars gegee het. Die breuk het in 1680 gekom toe Ageng oorlog teen Batavia (Jakarta) verklaar het. Hadji het 'n opstand teen sy vader gelei wat Ageng tot sy woning beperk het. Hoewel sy volgelinge teruggeveg het, het die Nederlanders Hadji te hulp gesnel en is Ageng na die hooglande verdryf waar hy in Maart 1683 oorgegee het. Hierna is hy na Batavia geneem waar hy oorlede is.

Yusuf het die verset voortgesit en is eers teen die einde van 1683 gevange geneem waarna hy ook na Batavia geneem is. Sy invloed in die Moslemgemeenskap van die VOC se hoofkwartier in die Ooste, waar hy as heilige vereer is, asook die aandrang op sy vrystelling deur die vorste van Gowa (Makassar) – wat toe bondgenote van die VOC was – het daartoe gelei dat Yusuf en sy gevolg eers na Ceylon (Sri Lanka) en daarna na die Kaap verban is. Sjeg Yusuf en sy "aanhang", soos in die notules van die Politieke Raad aangedui is, het op 31 Maart 1694 aan boord die Voetboog in Tafelbaai aangekom. Hier is hulle gul deur goewerneur Simon van der Stel ontvang, maar in die Kasteel gehou totdat daar in Junie besluit is om hulle na die mond van die Eersterivier, wat oor die plaas Zandvliet van ds P. Kalden uitgekyk het, te stuur.9

Hier in die duine, wat later as Makassar en Makassarstrand bekend sou word, het Yusuf en sy gevolg hulle gevestig. Volgens oorlewering was dit die eerste sentrum van Islam en Islamitiese onderrig in Suid-Afrika en het die terrein 'n sakrosante ereplek gebly na Yusuf se afsterwe op 23 April 1699 en sy begrafnis op die heuwel. Hoewel sommige skrywers nie oortuig is dat ook Yusuf se oorskot na die Ooste terug is nie, argumenteer André van Rensburg dat dit wel gebeur het.

"Hoewel 'n aanvanklike versoek van 31 Desember 1701 dat Yusuf se oorskot opgegrawe en na Indonesië gestuur word, geweier is, is in 'n verslag van 26 Februarie 1703 deur die Here XVII gelas dat die sjeg se naasbestaandes en sy oorskot na Indonesië weggebring moes word.

Op 26 Februarie 1704 het die amptelike geskrewe instruksies van die VOC in die Kaap aangekom. Die weduwee van Yusuf, hul jong kinders en ander lede van sy gevolg moes toegelaat word om na Indonesië terug te keer.

Daar is ook bepaal dat die oorskot van Yusuf onopsigtelik opgegrawe moes word sodat die naasbestaandes dit kon saamneem. Voorsorg moes egter getref word dat ander Oosterse bannelinge nie ontsnap deur voor te gee dat hulle naasbestaandes van sjeg Yusuf is nie."10

Die gevolg van Sjeg Yusuf het op 5 Oktober 1704 aan boord van De Spiegel uit Tafelbaai met sy oorskot vertrek en op 10 Desember in Batavia anker gegooi. Hierna is sy hulle na Makassar waar sy oorskot op 6 April 1705 op Lakiung in Ujung Pandang herbegrawe is. Bo-oor Yusuf se nuwe graf is 'n kramat of ko'bang deur die Chinese bouer Dju Kian Kiu opgerig. Ook hierdie Kramat word druk deur pelgrims besoek.


  1. Kramat is die algemeen Kaapse term vir die tombe van 'n [Moslem] heilige of Wali van Allah; in Urdu verwys karamat of keramat na die wonderwerking van 'n heilige, soms word dit ook as sinoniem vir heilige gebruik.
  2. Die meer algemeen gebruikte spelling word hier in plaas van die erkende Afrikaanse "Joesoef" gebruik.
  3. Raidt, E.H. 1971. François Valentyn Beshryvinge van de Kaap der Goede Hoop met de zaaken daar toe behoorende. Kaapstad: Van Riebeeck Vereniging, Vol. 1, p. 198.
  4. Brain, J.S. (ed.). 1988. The Cape diary of bishop Patrick Raymond Griffith for the years 1837-1839. Cape Town: Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, pp. 189-90.
  5. Aktekantoor, Kaapstad, Akte 6/3/1862, no. 121.
  6. Scherzer, K. 1861. Narrative of the circumnavigation of the globe by the Austrian frigate Novara, (commodore b. Von Wullerstorf-Urbair,): undertaken by order of the imperial government, in the years l857,1858, & 1859. London: Saunders, Otley & Co, pp. 244-248.
  7. Seremoniële hoofstad [Fatehpur = stad van oorwinning] van 1569 tot 1574 deur die Mughale Keiser Akbar (1542-1605) by Sikri, die hermitage van sy spirituele gids, Sjeg Salim Chisti, opgerig. Die tombe wat deur Colvin beskryf word, is deur Shah Jahan (1592-1666) herbou.
  8. Colvin, I.D. 1909. Romance of Empire, South Africa. London: TC & EL Jack, pp. 16168.
  9. Böeseken, A.J. 1961. Resolusies van die Politieke Raad III 1681-1707. Kaapstad: Argiefkomitee, p. 283 (14.06.1694).
  10. Van Rensburg, A. & Van Bart, M. 2004. Waar rus Sjeg Yusuf: van die Kaap tot in Makassar. Kultuurkroniek, Bylae by Die Burger, 10 Julie, pp. 12-13
  11. Van Rensburg, A. & Van Bart, M. 2004. Waar rus Sjeg Yusuf: van die Kaap tot in Makassar. Kultuurkroniek, Bylae by Die Burger, 10 Julie, p.13.


Schalk W le Roux, Gordonsbaai, Februarie 2013

See also Van Bart, M. & Van Rensburg A.


Wording on Minaret:

1629 - 1699
MAY 1925


4TH MAY 1925





Wording on plaque:

ON 7 AUGUST 1995

Writings about this entry

Anonymous. 1938. Pictorial History of South Africa. London: Odhams Press. pg 109
Davids, Achmat. 1980. The Mosques of Bo-Kaap - A social history of Islam at the Cape. Athlone, Cape: The South African Institute of Arabic and Islamic Research. pg 37-40
De Bosdari, C. 1971. Cape Dutch Houses and Farms. Cape Town: Balkema. pg 73
De Kock, WJ. 1976. Suid-Afrikaanse biografiese woordeboek : Deel 1. Kaapstad: RGN/Tafelberg. pg 429-430
Du Plessis, Izak David. 1944. The Cape Malays. Cape Town: Maskew Miller. pg 4-7
Jaffer, M (ed). 2001. Guide to the Kramats of the Western Cape. Cape Town: Cape Mazaar (Kramat) Society. pg 17-19
Jaffer, Mansoor. 1996. Guide to the Kramats of the Western Cape. Cape Town: Cape Mazaar Kramat Society. pg 17
Le Roux, SW. 1992. Vormgewende invloede op die ontwikkeling van moskee-argitektuur binne die Heilige Sirkel aan die Kaap tot 1950 . Pretoria: PhD-verhandeling: Universiteit van Pretoria. pg 201-202
Oxley, John. 1992. Places of Worship in South Africa. Halfway House: Southern Book Publishers. pg 63-64
Potgieter, DJ (Editor-in-chief). 1975. Standard Encyclopaedia of South Africa [SESA] Volume 11 Tur-Zwe. Cape Town: Nasou. pg 567
Potgieter, DJ (Editor-in-chief). 1972. Standard Encyclopaedia of South Africa [SESA] Volume 6 Hun-Lit. Cape Town: Nasou. pg 454-455
Rhoda, E. 2010. Hajee Sullaiman Shahmahomed and the shrine of Shayk Yusuf of Macassar at Faure. : Unpublished manuscript. pg
Richardson, Deidré. 2001. Historic Sites of South Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. pg 116
Van Selms, A Joesoef, Sjeik: in De Kock, WJ. 1976. Suid-Afrikaanse biografiese woordeboek : Deel 1: pp 429-430