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Mr Achmat Davids (Posthumous)

The Order of Ikhamanga in

Mr Achmat Davids (Posthumous) Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to the field of literature and the preservation of history through storytelling. His body of works enriched our understanding of the Cape Muslims’ contribution to the development of the Afrikaans language.
Cape Muslims are deeply indebted to Achmat Davids (1939-1998) for having excavated several aspects of their rich social history. He wrote, for example, the fairly insightful Mosques of the Bo-Kaap: A Social History of Islam at the Cape (1980), a work that offered a detailed view of how the forebears of this Muslim community contributed in making the upper portion of Cape Town – popularly known as the Bo-Kaap – a vibrant and lively area.

Davids also penned his informative The History of the Tana Baru (1985) and a wide selection of some of his salient writings were inserted in Pages from Cape Muslim History (1994), which he co-authored with Yusuf da Costa.

Davids’s plethora of articles, which were written between the mid-1970s and the late 1990s, featured in a number of non-peer reviewed magazines such as Boorhaanul Islam Newsletter (Cape Town) and Arabic Studies (University of Durban-Westville), and many peer-reviewed journals such as Kronos: A History of the Cape (University of the Western Cape), Journal for Islamic Studies (Rand Afrikaans University/University of Cape Town) and Matatu: Journal of African Culture and Society (Amsterdam). In all publications, Davids demonstrated the extent of the thriving legacy left behind by the Cape Muslims, including their inputs to the Cape’s delicious cuisine, clothing sector and extensive building industry.

From the long list of publications, his most significant research pieces focused on the Cape Muslims’ linguistic tradition. Besides narrating the general history of the Cape Muslims, Davids’s research outlined the way this community’s forebears constructed and linguistically engineered the language they used in their homes and marketplace during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Even though this linguistic story was already captured in the works of Van Selms and others, the appearance of his important articles in academic journals confirmed his active involvement in the development of Afrikaans.

It was only in the 1990s that the Afrikaans-speaking community in general and the Cape Muslims in particular came to realise Davids’s contribution to the development of the Afrikaans language.