This tradition of “ons gaan Kramat toe” was birthed more than 300 years ago, when Sheikh Yusuf Al Makassari was banished from his homeland, Indonesia, for his political stance against Dutch colonialists, to the Cape of Good Hope, then forced to work here as a slave.
He brought with him the knowledge of Islam and the desire to help spread the religion of peace to the four corners of the earth.
Upon his arrival in the Cape, he was sent into exile by the Cape’s Dutch Governor to the place we now know as Macassar, named after the saint’s place of birth.
The other Indonesian slaves who were also sent to the Cape were aware of the knowledge which he possessed and when they were given the Easter weekend break by their slave masters, they flocked to Macassar to spend the holiday period in the company of this great Islamic scholar.
The main objective of those Muslim slaves was to seek knowledge about their religion, but they also spent time enjoying themselves there with their families.
Today, the Easter weekend Kramat camping tradition is exactly that, the biggest halaal family holiday destination in Cape Town over the long weekend.
This year visitors were treated during the day with Qaseedas, Qiraah, lectures by scholars like Moulana Igshaan Hendricks, visiting Tuang Yusuf Maqaam and performing prayers in the Masjid at the Kramat fives times a day.
It is only at night after the final prayer that light comedy was introduced as a form of entertainment for the visitors.
This programme, which varied over the five days, was drafted and put together by one of Cape Town’s most prolific businessmen to come from the Cape Malay community, Mr Kader Miller, in conjunction with the Nurul Latief Islamic Association.
Mr Miller says: “Is baie swaar om die entertainment bymekaar te sit want die main goal is om die authenticity van die Kramat tradition te bly hou, soe popsong singers moet maar gaan na die Joseph Stone vir Easter."
Nou net soe, soos my ouma altyd geserit, Mr Miller, daar is ‘n tyd en plek vir alles.
Innie nag, however, ruk die ding by die tente with the age old tradition of “die singkring”.
Die Malay choirs staan ommie vuur and sing old traditional songs, ghoema-liedjies and nederlandsliedere into the early hours of the morning.
The sound of banjos and guitare can be heard and the melodious voices of the Malay choirs is enough to give anyone hoendervleis.
With that said, I don’t think one can say you know Cape Town music until you have experienced the feeling of die singkring.
Is ‘n gevoel tussen happy en sad.
The feeling that reminds you why you love Cape Town and why I still believe our local radio stations are missing out on this sound, they are quite simply missing “die hartklop van die Kaap”.
In America they believe that “it’s all about the bass”, but innie Kaap “it’s all about the gummy”.
We need to get this sound on radio!
Shabier Ismail, chairman of the Nurul Latief Islamic Association, says “the annual Kramat festival is the one fundraiser we host to raise funds for the maintenance and running of the Nurul Latief Masjid at the Kramat”.
He says the association is pleased with the turnout and that every year they strive to make the Kramat experience a better and safer experience for all.
Mr Ismail said “over the years when we had bigger attendances, some bad elements crept in, but we moved swiftly to remove such people, opting for quality over quantity. Soes die ou mense sal geserit ‘is * bietjie minnere maar is innere’.”
All this took place over the duration of the Easter weekend with delicious food and delicacies sold by the stall holders, and Mr Miller’s innovative idea of setting up an ATM at the Kramat made for good business for the stall holders.
Now, in case you were wondering what I’m doing next Easter, kry my by die singkring. My camping spot is al kla gebook.