Sheik Yusuf, ruler of Gowa on the Islands of Celebes in South East Asia, was born in 1626. He was also the brother of the Sultan of Macassar. In 1646 Yusuf went to Bantam in Java to spread the Islamic faith, where he married the daughter of Abdul Fatah, the Sultan of Bantam, also known as Ageng (the Great). He supported his father-in-law against the Dutch East In dia Company (D.E.I.C) in the struggle to gain a trade monopoly. He was eventually compelled to surrender and was imprisoned in the Castle of Batavia, but in 1684 was banished to Ceylon, as the D.E.I.C feared his influence.

Due to the fear of the Macassarese landing in Ceylon in order to liberate Yusuf, the D.E.I.C banished him, his family and retinue, 49 persons in total, to the Cape in South Africa. The contingent arrived at the Cape on 31 March 1694 on board ‘De Voetboog', and was accommodated in the Castle. On 14 June 1694 the Council of Policy resolved to settle Yusuf at the mouth of the Eerste River at False Bay. The name Macassar  Beach refers to Sheik Yusuf. He was to receive 12 rix-dollars a month, and his contingent would be supported in a humane manner.

In 1699 Sheik Yusuf passed away on the farm, Zandvliet and only his wives and daughters were allowed to return to their fatherland. In the same year a resolution was reached to have all his relatives' names recorded. Although there were already some Muslims at the Cape before the arrival of Yusuf, he is regarded as the founder of Islamic faith at the Cape. Local Muslims regularly visit his Kramat, a holy place or tomb, near Faure. The actual tomb is permanently kept and covered with costly cloths donated by devout pilgrims. Some prominent Malays at the Cape trace their ancestry to his followers, who were also of noble descent. In the East it is asserted that Yusuf's remains were reburied in Macassar in 1705, at the foot of the burial-hill Bonto Biraeng. His kramat there is held in high esteem, as is the one in Faure.


• Potgieter, D.J(ed)(1970). Standard Encyclopedia of Southern Africa Vol 3 , Cape Town: Nasou, p 567

Collections in the Archives