Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 May 2014
This article investigates the role of Sufi networks in keeping Durban's ‘Zanzibari’ community of African Muslims together and developing their response to social change and political developments from the 1950s to the post-apartheid period. It focuses on the importance of religion in giving meaning to notions of community, and discusses the importance of the Makua language in maintaining links with northern Mozambique and framing understandings of Islam. The transmission of ritual practices of the Rifaiyya, Qadiriyya, and Shadhiliyya Sufi brotherhoods is highlighted, as is the significance of Maputo as a node for such linkages. The article discusses change over time in notions of cosmopolitanism, diaspora, and belonging, and examines new types of interactions after 1994 between people identifying themselves as Amakhuwa in Durban and Mozambique.
The author is grateful to the members of the ‘Amakhuwa Research Committee’ in Bayview, Durban, for their support and collaboration – Aziza Dalika, Alpha Franks, Ismail Fraser, the late Yacoob Ibrahim, Zaithoon Maziya, Eddie Osman, Salim Rapentha, and Yussuf Abdul Rehman. Thanks also to Felicitas Becker, Joel Cabrita, Hafiz Jamu, Chapane Mutiua, Abdul Sheriff, and Goolam Vahed for advice and assistance, and to the three anonymous Journal of African History reviewers for constructive comments. Author's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Together with the Alawiyya, the Rifaiyya, Qadiriyya, and Shadhiliyya are the most important Sufi orders extending down the African Indian Ocean coast from the Arab world. Trimingham, J. S., The Sufi Orders in Islam (Oxford, 1971), 31–66Google Scholar; Martin, B. G., Muslim Brotherhoods in Nineteenth-Century Africa (Cambridge, 1976), 152–76Google Scholar; Pouwels, R. L., Horn and Crescent: Cultural Change and Traditional Islam on the East African Coast, 800–1900 (Cambridge, 1987), 191–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
2 ‘Amakhuwa’ is the contemporary self-designation of Makua-speaking groups in both South Africa and Mozambique, aiming to emphasize their shared origins, as used, for example, by the ‘Amakhuwa Research Committee’ formed in Durban in 2011.
3 As discussed below, mawlid may also refer to the particular ritual performances for such celebrations as well as to the texts used within them.
4 G. C. Oosthuizen, assisted by Dalika, A., The Muslim Zanzibaris of South Africa: The Religious Expression of a Minority Group, Descendants of Freed Slaves (Durban, 1982)Google Scholar; Z. K. Seedat, ‘The Zanzibaris in Durban: a social anthropological study of the Muslim descendants of African freed slaves living in the Indian area of Chatsworth’ (unpublished MA dissertation, University of Natal, Durban, 1973); Sheriff, A., ‘The origins of the “Zanzibari” diaspora in Durban, South Africa’, in Prasad, K. K. and Angenot, J.-P. (eds.), TADIA: The African Diaspora in Asia: Explorations on a Less Known Fact (Bangalore, 2008), 547–78Google Scholar.
5 Seedat, ‘The Zanzibaris’, 253–82.
6 Oosthuizen, The Muslim Zanzibaris, 30–46.
7 Sheriff, ‘The origins’, 570–1.
8 Seedat, ‘The Zanzibaris’, 7–12; Sheriff, ‘The origins’, 559–67. Makua is the most widely spoken language in northern Mozambique, and Makua-speakers comprised the majority of people taken and sold as slaves along the coast of Mozambique during the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Indian Ocean slave trade.
9 Seedat, ‘The Zanzibaris’, 26–54.
10 ‘Sunnis' and ‘Barelwis’ refer to groups of Muslim Indian traders from Gujarat – so-called ‘passenger Indians’ – who had followed the trail of the Indian indenture labourers into Natal from the 1860s. Their religious practices accommodated Sufi practices as they developed in Durban around the shrines of two Sufi saints, Pir, Badsha and Green, Sufi Sahib. N., Bombay Islam: The Religious Economy of the West Indian Ocean, 1840–1915 (Cambridge, 2011), 208–34Google Scholar. Sunnis and Barelwis controlled Durban's biggest mosque, the Juma Masjid or Grey Street mosque, while the more scripturally dogmatic groups of ‘Deobandis’ or ‘Tablighis’ held sway at the West Street mosque, also located in central Durban. Vahed, G., ‘Contesting “orthodoxy”: the Tablighi–Sunni conflict among South African Muslims in the 1970s and 1980s’, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 23:2 (2003), 313–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
11 The Catholic mission of St Francis Xavier established a station in Inanda to the northwest of Durban, and an important school on the Bluff where significant numbers of both Catholic and Muslim Zanzibaris were educated. Seedat, ‘The Zanzibaris’, 29–34; Oosthuizen, The Muslim Zanzibaris, 13–18.
12 Seedat, ‘Catholicism and Islam as factors in the creation, the disappearance and the persistence of freed slave communities’, in ‘The Zanzibaris’, 26–54.
13 Seedat, ‘The Zanzibaris’, 36.
16 A Zanzibari elder, Yussuf Abdul Rehman, was – and continues to be – actively involved in this as a teacher of Arabic, and is remembered as such by Adam Mncanywa, an imam in the slum settlement of Amaoti, author of several Islamic pamphlets in Zulu, and chairman of the Islamic Nation Foundation. Interview with Adam Mncanywa, Durban, 28 June 2010.
17 Boyer-Rossol, K., ‘De Morima à Morondava: contribution à l’étude des makoa de l'ouest de Madagascar au XIXe siècle’, in Nativel, D. et Rajaonah, F. V. (eds.), Madagascar et l'Afrique: Entre identité insulaire et appartenances historiques (Paris, 2007), 192Google Scholar.
18 N.-J. Gueunier, ‘Les Makoa “engagés” à Mayotte et à Nosy Be dans la deuxième moitié du XIXe siècle’, in Nativel and Rajaonah, Madagascar et l'Afrique, 163–82; Alpers, E. A., ‘Recollecting Africa: diasporic memory in the Indian Ocean world’, African Studies Review, 43:1 (2000), 83–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Declich, F., ‘“Gendered narratives”, history and identity: two centuries along the Juba river among the Zigula and Shanbara’, History in Africa, 22 (1995), 93–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
19 Interview with Yacoob Ibrahim, Bayview, 13 Feb. 2010. Yacoob Ibrahim passed away on 20 Jan. 2014.
20 Prestholdt, J., Domesticating the World: African Consumerism and the Genealogies of Globalization (Berkeley, CA, 2008), 143Google Scholar.
21 Pouwels, Horn and Crescent, 196–8; Bang, A., Sufis and Scholars of the Sea: Family Networks in East Africa, 1860–1925 (London, 2003), 148–50Google Scholar.
22 Fair, L., ‘Dressing up: clothing, class and gender in post-abolition Zanzibar’, The Journal of African History, 39:1 (1998), 66CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Glassman, J., Feasts and Riot: Revelry, Rebellion, and Popular Consciousness on the Swahili Coast, 1856–1888 (London, 1995), 95Google Scholar. On the use of dance, see Fair, L., ‘Identity, difference, and dance: female initiation in Zanzibar, 1890 to 1930’, Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 17:3 (1996), 150–1CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
23 Interviews with Salim Rapentha, Bayview, 10 Feb. 2009, 12 Feb. 2010, and 15 Feb. 2011.
25 Oosthuizen, The Muslim Zanzibaris, 33 and 50.
26 Rosander, E. E., ‘Introduction: the Islamization of “tradition” and “modernity”’, in Rosander, E. E. and Westerlund, D. (eds.), African Islam and Islam in Africa: Encounters between Sufis and Islamists (London, 1997), 2Google Scholar.
27 Vahed, ‘Contesting “orthodoxy”’, 313–34; Green, N., ‘Islam for the indentured Indian: a Muslim missionary in colonial South Africa’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 71:3 (2008), 529–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Jeppie, S., Language, Identity, Modernity: The Arabic Study Circle of Durban (Cape Town, 2007)Google Scholar.
28 Green, N., ‘Saints, rebels and booksellers: Sufis in the cosmopolitan western Indian Ocean, c. 1780–1920’, in Simpson, E. and Kresse, K. (eds.), Struggling with History: Islam and Cosmopolitanism in the Western Indian Ocean (London, 2007), 125–66Google Scholar. See also Davids, A., The Mosques of Bo-Kaap: A Social History of Islam at the Cape (Athlone, Cape Town, 1980)Google Scholar; Tayob, A., Islam in South Africa: Mosques, Imams, and Sermons (Gainesville, FL, 1999)Google Scholar.
29 Bang, Sufis and Scholars; L. Bonate, ‘Traditions and transitions: Islam and chiefship in northern Mozambique, ca. 1850–1974’ (PhD dissertation, University of Cape Town, 2007); Bang, A., Ripples of Reform: Islamic Reform in the Southwestern Indian Ocean, c. 1860–1930 (Leiden, forthcoming 2014)Google Scholar.
30 These include the Badsha Piri shrine and burial site in Durban's central business district, next to the Victoria Market and the highly prosperous Sufi Sahib centre at Riverside on the Umgeni River, established in 1896. See the latter's web site at (http://www.soofie.saheb.org.za/riverside.htm).
31 Green, ‘Bombay Islam in the Ocean's southern city’, in Bombay Islam, 208–34.
33 Bang, Sufis and Scholars, 148–9.; Bang, Ripples of Reform; Green, ‘Saints, rebels and booksellers’, 149–50 and 156.
34 Trimingham, The Sufi Orders, 37–40; Martin, Muslim Brotherhoods, 165. On Rifaiyya in Java, see Laffan, The Makings, 5, 31, and 104–5.
35 On mawlid controversies in Zanzibar and Kenya, see H. Nuotio, ‘The dance that is not danced, the song that is not sung: Zanzibari women in the maulidi ritual’; Kresse, K., ‘Debating maulidi: ambiguities and transformations of Muslim identity along the Kenyan Swahili coast’, in Loimeier, R. and Seesemann, R. (eds.), The Global Worlds of the Swahili: Interfaces of Islam, Identity and Space in 19th and 20th-Century East Africa (Berlin, 2006), 187–208 and 209–28Google Scholar; and Loimeier, R., Between Social Skills and Marketable Skills: The Politics of Islamic Education in 20th Century Zanzibar (Leiden, 2009), 67–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For debates on mawlid and ziyara practices in southeastern Tanzania, see Becker, Becoming Muslim, 200–6.
36 It is interesting to examine how one of contemporary Cape Town's leading authorities on Islamic history, Achmat Davids, changed his views on ratiep, moving from considering it a heretic practice to seeing it is as a central ingredient of the mawlid ritual as practiced in the Cape. In The Mosques of Bo-Kaap from 1980, Davids criticized ratiep as a practice ‘probably of Hindu origin’ and having ‘nothing to do with Islam’, though it ‘must have been impressive to the uninitiated slave and probably led to his conversion’. Davids, The Mosques, 33. By a 1998 article in Muslim Views, Davids had changed his mind, and identified Rifaiyya with Sheik Yussuf of Macassar, a founder of Islam in South Africa ‘whose uncle initiated him into the Rifiyiah Tariqa’ and who, according to Davids, had first introduced the ‘celebration of moulood’ at the Cape in the 1690s. Davids, A., ‘Practice of moulood has deep roots in the Cape. Moulood-un-Nabi feature’, Muslim Views (June 1998), 10Google Scholar. This change of view may be related to the new interest that developed among Cape Muslims after 1994 in cultivating transnational linkages around common cultural origins with Indonesia and Malaysia, and recognizing the prominence of Sufi networks in facilitating and maintaining such linkages. Bangstad, S., ‘Diasporic consciousness as a strategic resource: a case study from a Cape Muslim community’, in Manger, L. O. and Assal, M. A. M. (eds.), Diasporas within and without Africa: Dynamism, Heterogeneity, Variation (Uppsala, 2006), 46Google Scholar; Jappie, S., ‘From the madrasah to the museum: the social life of the “kietaabs” of Cape Town’, History in Africa, 38:1 (2011), 369CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Kaarsholm, P., ‘Diaspora or transnational citizens? Indian Ocean networks and changing multiculturalisms in South Africa’, Social Dynamics, 38:3 (2012), 454–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
37 Stimulated by the fact that in 1961 a minority of Zanzibaris were classified as ‘coloured’ together with the majority of the Muslim population in the Cape. Interviews with Saleem Symallin, Johannesburg, 8 Feb. 2010; and with Sayda Moses and Lana Laila Pretorius, Wentworth, 16 Feb. 2010.
38 In its origins, muharram is a shia Muslim ritual of mourning and self-mortification commemorating the death of Imam Hussayn in the battle of Karbala on the tenth day of the Muslim month of Muharram in the year 680 CE. Kavadi was brought to Durban by indentured labourers from Tamil Nadu. Vahed, G., ‘Constructions of community and identity among Indians in colonial Natal, 1860–1910: the role of the Muharram festival’, The Journal of African History, 43:1 (2003), 77–93Google Scholar.
39 Green, Bombay Islam, 228.
40 Oosthuizen, The Muslim Zanzibaris, 40f.
43 Bonate, L., ‘Islam in northern Mozambique: a historical overview’, History Compass, 8:7 (2010), 581CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Arnfred, S., ‘Tufo dancing: Muslim women's culture in northern Mozambique’ , in Arnfred, S. (ed.), Sexuality and Gender Politics in Mozambique: Rethinking Gender in Africa (Woodbridge, 2011), 265–90Google Scholar; Nuotio, ‘The Dance’, 197–202; Bonate, ‘Traditions and transitions’, 66. On duffu drums, the Shadhiliyya brotherhood, and ngoma dancing in Tanzania, see Becker, Becoming Muslim, 202–5.
45 Bonate, ‘Traditions and transitions’, 79–84; A. Bang, Ripples of Reform.
46 Interview with Shehe Omar Bishehe Abdallah, Nampula, 27 Jan. 2011. A shehe is the local leader of a particular Sufi order; Nampula is the provincial capital of Nampula province, the most populous part of northern Mozambique between the Lurio and Ligonha Rivers, where Mozambique Island is also situated.
47 Bonate, ‘Traditions and transitions’, 103–8, 123, and 128. Interview with José Ibraimo Abudo, Maputo, 7 Feb. 2011.
48 Seedat, ‘The Zanzibaris’, 30–1.
49 Interview with Billie Mola, Bayview, 13 Feb. 2011.
50 Compare to Green, Bombay Islam, 22.
51 Interviews with Eddie Osman, Bayview, 11 Feb. 2010 and 16 Dec. 2012.
52 Interviews in Bayview with Yacoob Ibrahim, 22 Feb. 2011; with Eddie Osman, 23 June 2010 and 13 Feb. 2011; and with Billie Mola, 13 Feb. 2011; interviews with Ismail Fraser, Glenmore, 19 Feb. 2011; with Shehe Yussuf bin Hajji Adam, Mafalala, 7 Feb. 2011; with Sheykh Cassim David, Matola, 8 Feb. 2011; and with Shehe Basheko Abdulrazak Rajaab, Minkajuine, 7 Feb. 2011.
53 Interview with Shehe Basheko, Minkajuine, 7 Feb. 2011. Shehe Basheko passed away in May 2013 – two weeks after his one hundredth birthday.
54 L. Bonate, ‘Traditions and transitions’, 73–122; interviews with Hafiz Jamu and Saide Amur bin Gimba Amur, Nampula, 26 Jan. 2011. Sadat (Arabic) is the plural of sayyid, meaning a lord, master, or descendant of the Prophet.
55 L. Bonate, ‘Traditions and transitions’, 194–202.
56 When talking of Sayyid ba Hassan, Shehe Omar Bishehe Abdallah made a point of dissociating this great Qadiriyya leader from the Rifaiyya, emphasizing the distinction between ‘high’ and ‘low’ religiosity and between reformed and unreformed varieties of Sufism. The Qadiriyya and Shadhiliyya orders belonged in the ‘high’ category while the Rifaiyya ritual practices like the ‘dancing mawlid’ and ratiep had a lower status, associated with recent converts and sometimes with descendants of slaves. Interview with Shehe Omar Bishehe Abdallah, Nampula, 27 Jan. 2011. Other informants make a similar distinction. Interviews with Saide Abdulrahmane ‘Makamba’ Shehan (a Mahafil Issilamo representative) and with Nakuti Adamo Nakuti (a Rifaiyya performance group leader), Ilha de Moçambique, 31 Jan. 2011. Shehe Assane Issufu of the Qadiriyya Sadat said in another interview that ‘Rifaiyya is like a discotheque – not serious like the brotherhoods. But it is doing good work – it is popular and defends us against the attacks of the Wahhabis.’ Interview with Shehe Assane Issufu, Nampula, 26 Jan. 2011.
57 Interview with Khalifa Shifa Yussufo, Ilha de Moçambique, 31 Jan. 2011.
58 Interview with Ali Muhammed Ninkwanta, Ilha de Moçambique, 2 Feb. 2012.
59 Seedat, ‘The Zanzibaris’, 32f.; Oosthuizen, The Muslim Zanzibaris, 17.
60 Interview with Eddie Osman and Billie Mola, 13 Feb. 2011. See also Oosthuizen, The Muslim Zanzibaris, 41.
61 Interview with Shehe Yussuf bin Hajji Adam, Mafalala, 7 Feb. 2011. Habib Shali – whose name may refer to the famous Habib Salih of the tariqa Alawiyya, who was the founder of the Riyadh mosque and college in Lamu – was a khalifa at the Qadiriyya mosque in Mafalala who travelled to Durban and Kings Rest in the 1940s. On Habib Salih and the outreach activities of the Alawiyya, Qadiriyya, and Shadiliyya brotherhoods, see Bang, Sufis and Scholars, 149–50.
62 Interviews with Yacoob Ibrahim, Bayview, 22 Feb. 2011; and with Salim Rapentha, Bayview, 16 Dec. 2012.
63 Interview with Eddie Osman and Billie Mola, 13 Feb. 2011.
64 L. Bonate, ‘Traditions and Transitions’, 170f. Interview with Ismail Fraser, Glenmore, 19 Feb. 2011. On the history of the mawlid al-barzanji, see Pouwels, Horn and Crescent, 196; Bang, Sufis and Scholars, 149; Loimeier, Between Social Skills, 67f.
65 Bonate, ‘Traditions and transitions’, viii and xi.
66 This section is based on information provided in an email from Aziza Dalika on 30 September 2013, following consultations with Salim Rapentha, Eddie Osman, Yussuf Abdul Rehman, and Alpha Franks.
67 Interview with Shehe Basheko, Minkajuine, 7 Feb. 2011.
68 On Estrela Vermelha and tufo dance group competitions in Ilha in a secularist setting, see Arnfred, ‘Tufo’.
69 Explained in ‘The Zanzibari Time Line’ prepared and stencilled in 2006 by the Zanzibari Development Trust for ‘The first celebration commemorating the arrival of the Zanzibaris to South Africa 133 years ago held on 4 August in Chatsworth’ (copy kindly provided by Alpha Franks).
70 For Tablighi Jamaat in Durban, see Vahed, G., ‘Contesting Indian Islam in KwaZulu-Natal: the Muharram festival in Durban 2002’, in Kaarsholm, P. and Hofmeyr, I. (eds.), The Popular and the Public: Cultural Debates and Struggles over Public Space in Modern India, Africa and Europe (Calcutta, 2009), 116Google Scholar. For the Africa Muslim Agency, see Sadouni, S., ‘New religious actors in South Africa: the example of Islamic humanitarianism’, in Soares, B. F. and Otayek, R. (eds.), Islam and Muslim Politics in Africa (New York, 2007), 103–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar. An account of similar recent contestations elsewhere in northern Mozambique can be found in Declich, F., ‘Transmission of Muslim practices and women's agency in Ibo island and Pemba (Mozambique)’, Journal of Eastern African Studies, 7:4 (2013), 588–606CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
71 For the importance of Zanzibar from the late nineteenth century onwards as a centre for learning and the training of imams within these coastal networks, see Bang, Sufis and Scholars, 114–15; Loimeier, Between Social Skills, 105 and 109; Bang, A., ‘Zanzibari Islamic knowledge transmission revisited: loss, lament, legacy, transmission – and transformation’, Social Dynamics, 38:3 (2012), 419–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Bang, Ripples of Reform.
72 Regional Land Claims Commission, KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg (RLCC), Claim form submitted to the Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights of 7 July 1995, signed by ‘A. Franks – in my capacity as Secretary of the Zanzibari Civic Association’ and c/o D. K. Singh, Vahed and Partners; Negotiation Report, The Zanzibari Civic Association and the Juma Musjid Trust, Claim reference nos. (KRN) 6/2/3/E/8/817/2712/185 and KRN 6/2/3/E/8/817/2712/187.
73 RLCC, Memorandum, Request for ministerial approval in terms of section 42D of the Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994 (as amended) for the claim by the Zanzibari Civic Association (ZCA), KRN 6/2/3/E/8/817//2712/187.
74 The ‘Strategic Plan’ for developing Kings Rest includes a ‘Cultural village & market’, a ‘Museum, cultural & tourism centre’, a ‘Traditional restaurant with Zanzibari theme and cuisine’ as well as an ‘Islamic School and Centre’ and a ‘Guest house’. Income from cultural tourism and programmes to ‘strengthen and promote the Islamic faith and identity of the Zanzibari community’ were deemed vital. See RLCC, Zanzibari Development Trust, Strategic Plan, 5 Nov. 2003, 11; Appendix: Sustainability Plan, 13. See also Zanzibari Development Trust (ZDT), Zanzibari Heritage Centre, A proposal for the establishment of the Zanzibari Heritage Centre, n.d.
75 J. Ahmed, ‘Zanzibaris. Part One: Identity and Community. Part Two: The Struggle for King's Rest’. Produced by The Centre for Democratic Communications for the South African Broadcasting Corporation 1 (SABCI) television channel (Feb. 1996).
76 Interviews with Salim Rapentha, 10 Feb. 2009; and with Eddie Osman, 23 June 2010. Email from Zaithoon Maziya, 21 May 2013. The term ziyara used by the informant here in reference to Sufi ceremonies of prayer, performance, and recital more broadly, rather than to grave visitations.
77 Interview with Ismail Fraser, 19 Feb. 2011.
78 Becker, Becoming Muslim, 257–63; Loimeier, Between Social Skills, 125–35; G. Vahed, ‘Contesting “orthodoxy”’, 313–34.
79 Interview with Saleem Symallin, a member of Ahlu Sunnah wal Jamaah, Johannesburg, 8 Feb. 2010. On the centrality of capulanas in Ilha tufo performances, see Arnfred, ‘Tufo’, 283–5.
80 Interview with Eddie Osman, 23 June 2010.
81 Email communication from Thamim Aboobacar, chairman of the Zanzibari Development Trust, 7 May 2013.
83 Interview with José Abudo, Maputo, 7 Feb. 2011.
85 Interviews with José Abudo, Maputo, 22 Jan. 2014; and with shehe Mohammad Ali Aboobacar and shehe Yussuf Amadi, Qadiriyya mosque, Mafalala, 22 Jan. 2014.
86 This includes Said Habib, a great-grandson of shehe Sayyid ba Hasan mentioned above, now an imam at the Mohammad mosque in central Maputo and an advisor on Islamic affairs to the president of Mozambique. With Habib, I visited the grave of ba Hasan in Maputo on 22 Jan. 2014.
87 Bangstad, ‘Diasporic consciousness’, 32–60; Jappie, ‘From the madrasah to the museum’, 369–99; Kaarsholm, ‘Diaspora or transnational citizens’, 454–66.