The forgotten Effendi: Ottoman Muslim theologian, Mahmud Fakih Emin Effendi, and the real story of the Bo-Kaap Museum, c.1894-1978
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This article attempts to re-present the religious and educational activities of a forgotten Muslim scholar, Mahmud Fakih Effendi, in Cape history. The subject of the article is related to this Ottoman scholar, as well as the story of his house at 71 Wale Street in Cape Town, which is the Bo-Kaap Museum at present. In 1894, fourteen years after the death of Abu Bakr Emin Effendi, the Ottoman Caliphate in Istanbul appointed another Muslim scholar at the Cape, Mahmud Fakih Effendi. He resided at 71 Wale Street, living there until his death in 1914. After his death, his son, Muhammad Dervish Effendi, followed in his father’s footsteps as a Muslim scholar and also stayed in the same residence in the Bo-Kaap. Muhammad Dervish Effendi died in 1940 and left behind eight children. His widow, Mariam, along with the children continued to live in the house at 71 Wale Street. By 1978, when their house was converted into the Bo-Kaap Museum, it was identified as the house of Abu Bakr Effendi in error instead of as the former residence of Mahmud Effendi. This is because Mahmud Effendi did not leave behind any substantial written legacy as his predecessor Abu Bakr Effendi did, and therefore he and his son, Muhammad Dervish Effendi, became forgotten figures in Cape history. This article sheds new light on this matter as a result of new readings of Turkish and Cape archival documents. It aims to correct the historical inaccuracy of the origins of the Bo-Kaap Museum and to highlight the noteworthy activities of a forgotten Ottoman scholar and his family in Cape history.