Sheik Yusuf arrives at the Cape of Good Hope

Wednesday, 31 March 1694

Sheik Yusuf, Islamic leader and brother of the sultan of Macassar, was banished to the Cape by the Dutch East India Company (DEIC). He arrived on board De Voetboog and with his family and retinue; they were forty-nine people in total. In order to minimise his influence on enslaved people at the Cape, he was housed by the Dutch East India Company on the farm Zandvliet, located outside Cape Town. Although he died in 1699, just five years after his arrival at the Cape, after more than three centuries his memory lives on and Zandvliet is a noted place of pilgrimage for Muslim people in South Africa. Although there were already some Muslims at the Cape before the arrival of Yusuf, he is regarded as the founder of the Islamic faith at the Cape. The Muslim community, to whom he had provided guidance, faith and hope, flourishes in South Africa today. 

The name "Zandvliet" disappeared many years ago, when the area was renamed "Macassar", in honour of Sheikh Yusuf's place of birth.

References:
• Potgieter, D.J. et al. (eds)(1970). Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Cape Town: NASOU, v. 11, p. 567.
• SAHO, Sheik Yusuf, from South African History Online, [online], Available at www.sahistory.org.za [Accessed: 12 March 2014]

Last updated : 27-Mar-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011