This entry is late. 9 days aog the old man would have been 99 according to the Gregorian calendar, 102 if one would measure the years by the lunar orbit.
At the ripe old age of 98 Boeta Maan started the return
journey to his Maker.
A man who in the frailty of his body maintained the strength which came with his God given right to speak truth.
I first met Boeta Maan (BM as my wife calls him ) about 3 and a half years ago. I had in fact known him from the time I was able to walk to Motjie Janie’s, the old lady who had a corner shop where Pepper and Lion street met. BM lived on the opposite corner, and my earliest memories of him was of ann old man always busy, either painting, building, and even replacing the corrugated zinc sheeting of his double storied house.
An active, vibrant man of unabashed straight talking he did not endear himself to people who entertained the niceties of civil interaction without having the necessary sincerity. A treasure trove of knowledge, this hidden gem embedded in the memories of all of us who grew up in that part of Bo Kaap remained true to his Maker, and looked forward to the day of his return.
I knocked on his door that summer afternoon, hot like it can only be on the lower slopes of signal hill seeking his knowledge. I wanted to know what Cape Town was like while he was growing up, what were the Muslims in this part of the world like?
BM was happy for the company, and eventually traced my lineage, knowing the names of my grandparents on both my father and mother’s side, then continuing to tell me about their mothers and fathers, and their brothers and sisters!
I learned more about myself than anything else.
Saying that BM liked to talk would not be a lie, however, more surprisingly i discovered that i liked to listen, and I did, sometimes for hours on end, about his youth…
BM told me about how he got expelled from school in 1921, or somewhere around there for telling his geography teacher that clothes dry equally as well in the light of a full moon as it does during the day, otherwise why do people hang out the snoek to dry at night too! He also told me about the concentration camps, along the stretch of green point main road until just before the the new stadium for the world cup, where the British imprisoned the defeated of the Anglo-Boer War. At the time, it was common practice for the Muslims of Cape Town to wear the red Fez, like we see the Archetypal turk in the old Indiana Jones movies wearing, and because of this the children at the time ( including BM) had to run from the Australian soldiers returning after the obliteration of their forces by the Turks during the first world war.
BM was born in Keerom street, on the first floor of a building that is next to the famous restaurant called 5 flies, and opposite the High Court.
He also told me about taking the tram from adderly street to Bakoven, working on the Trans-Karoo train as a chef’s assistant, and about the time that he was dragged of the gang plank of a boat bound for exotic destinations by his ears as a boy of 13 years by his uncle who just happened to be passing!
All in all, he had an incredible innings, and he was a source of inspiration and knowledge for myself and many others.
Boeta Maan had no teeth so you can get an idea of his wit when he told me,
” my boy, when it comes to the truth i don’t mince my words, I eat steak!”
….. and that in a nutshell was Boeta Maan.
May the Lord of the Worlds Bless him, and Accept him with a beautiful return, may my Maker, and his, put Light in his grave, and Grant him the scent of musk, may The Fashioner of Atoms, The Giver of Breaths Raise him up amongst those whose faces are lit with the Light of Truth, Amin, Amin, Amin.