Riding down memory lane with a horse and cart

Pictured clockwise are Fatima Tofa, from Lentegeur; Sharfaa Davids, from Goodwood; Jaleelah Cassiem, from Schaapkraal; Sameer Adams, from Pelican Park; Ismaeel Matthews, from Grassy Park; Raaziq Adams, from Pelican Park; and Ameer Davids, from Grassy Park. In front is Imaad Schaik, from Eagle Park.

Riding in horse-drawn carts, members of the Moses family travelled from Philippi to Mowbray on Sunday to rediscover memories of stolen childhoods.

The sun shone and the weather was fine as a dozen or so horses pulled the carts carrying several generations of the family to their lost heritage at 13 River Street.

Today, Colleen Jackson owns the cottage behind Starke Ayres Garden Centre.

But long before she moved in, back in 1991, the cottage was home to the Moses family.

Moosa and Rogeemah Moses ran a stable around the corner from their River Lane home, that is before they were removed under apartheid’s Group Areas Act in 1963.

The family have not submitted a land claim but were simply grateful to be in the space, which their forefathers owned.

About 100 people, including six generations of the Moses family, ranging from infants to early 70-year-olds, former neighbours and friends attended the reunion.

Ms Jackson welcomed them and said it was a bittersweet moment. “It is an honour for me to have you here today but also a great sadness, as this is where you should have been living,” she said.

Imam Achmad Cassiem, former Robben Island prisoner, human rights activist and former Mowbray resident, said people are all descendents of the same race – the human race. “Apartheid was ridiculous, irrational and downright evil,” he said, describing how it had barred people from learning how to live with each other.

Fuad Moses, from Schaapkraal in Philippi, is Moosa and Rogeemah’s grandson. He said the day was all about celebrating the family’s heritage and being in the space where his grandparents had once lived.

He said his grandfather had given them horses, which is the common factor to keeping the family together. His cousins also own horses, some of which take part in horse shows, parties, carnivals, weddings and funerals, while others collect scrap.

Mr Moses owns Bismillah Farm, in Weltevreden Road Schaapkraal, in Philippi, where everyone congregated on Sunday before moving to Mowbray.

“I want to thank Colleen for opening her home to us,” he said.

His cousin, Marel Moses, 71, from Delft, recalled how the front of the house had been corrugated iron and the back had been brick.

While sitting in the back garden, she pointed out where fig and quince trees had once grown as well as a strawberry patch. There had been a chicken coop and a gutter to prevent the chickens from entering the home.

There had been bungalows for her six uncles to sleep in. Her mother, Amiena Moses, had been one of 11 children, two of whom had been stillborn and another dying in infancy. None of them are alive today.

Ms Moses reminisced about sleeping at her grandmother’s house from where they had sold fish and firewood. Her grandfather’s stable had been close by in Ayres Street, where a church stands today. “It is good to be here because this is where I was born,” she said.

Ms Moses said that two years ago, when she had been in the area to visit her great-grandchild at Mowbray Maternity Hospital, they had driven around trying to find the old family home but had been unable to locate it. These days the lane is cordoned off with a security gate. The Moses family met with Ms Jackson previously, after delving into their family history and locating River Street.

The Moses family’s former neighbours, Gillian Geduldt, from Kewtown, and Yvonne Williams, from Bonteheuwel, said the area back then had been lush and green. “Everyone lived close together, irrespective of religion or race,” said Ms Geduldt.

On Fridays their parents had told them to keep the noise down during jumu’ah and the Moses children had had to respect their church time on Sundays. “We wore nice clothes on labarang and they were dressed appropriately at Christmas,” she said.

Ms Williams said: “Those were the days of scraped knees, climbing trees and adventure.”