Karriem Rasdien may have left the Bo-Kaap for Woodstock 40 years ago but he says his heart still remains in the area.
He and 11 other people, mostly Bo-Kaap residents, started the Bo-Kaap Social Club to reunite families who have long since left the area for various reasons. The organisation had three successful events last year and is looking to grow in 2017.
Mr Rasdien, the chairman of the club, said they were worried that they lost ties with people once they had moved out of Bo-Kaap.
“We decided as a group that we wanted to do something about it and get families together again like in the older days. We are going to try and do something special for the people of Bo-Kaap.”
Last month, they invited more than 200 elderly residents, mostly from Bo-Kaap, for a meal, at the Bo-Kaap civic centre.
“We try to get the elderly people out of their houses so that is why we decided to do this big event for people over the age of 70. There are a lot of people that we grew up with but we haven’t seen them for all these years. That is why we decided to treat them,” said Mr Rasdien.
Mr Rasdien, 62, left Bo-Kaap for Woodstock 40 years ago when he got married but all his family members still live in Bo-Kaap.
Rachmat Abrahams, who is Mr Rasdien’s niece, said they decided, as a family, that they wanted to do something for the community. “We wanted to host a fun day. We also had a dinner for elderly residents in the area, which was a huge success.”
Ms Abrahams said part of their goal was to reach out to the underprivileged members of the community. They are planning several events for this year.
Rasheeda Jackson, a Bo-Kaap senior resident, said she and her husband had attended the dinner last month and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
“I think it was great idea. I must say that we were treated like royalty, and everything was beautiful. I saw people there who I hadn’t seen in a long time, and that was nice.”
The social club has also held events for the whole family with activities at Schotsche Kloof Primary School.
“We also try to get the younger generation away from all the wrong things and get them into sport. We had three successful events,” Mr Rasdien said.
He thanked the principal of the primary school for always making the venue available for their events.
For Mr Rasdien, it is important to get families who may have moved away from Bo-Kaap back together again.
“The reason we did this is because people have sold their houses and left Bo-Kaap. They have moved to places like Mitchell’s Plain and Bonteheuwel and we don’t see them any more. The only time we might see them again is if there was a wedding or a funeral,” he said.
“At the dinner (for the seniors), I saw a woman whom I last saw 40 years ago when I grew up in the area.
“When I mentioned my name and my mother’s name, she remembered my family. It is a thing that can bring memories back.”
One of the reasons people had left the area was the rising cost of living and ever increasing municipal rates there, he said.
“We want to extend these events to the family and friends who have left and try and bring them back to Bo-Kaap again.
“There was a time when children played in the streets and walked with toffee apples, but that’s gone. They are now walking with phones and they have a TV inside.
“We have to stand together and help our community,” said Mr Rasdien.
He thanked the sponsors for the events they have held so far and said they were always open to listening to ideas about how to improve the club.
They want to host their next event in the middle of this year.
For more information about the Bo-Kaap Social Club, call Mr Rasdien at 082 708 0508.