Mass boeka transforms notorious Manenberg street

Over 200 people were treated to a meal as part of the annual “Boeka in die Laan” event on Sunday

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Hundreds of Manenberg residents in Cape Town gathered in a street known for rife gang violence to share a meal on Sunday for the annual “Boeka in the Laan” for Ramadan.

As the sun set over the Cape Flats on Sunday, the streets of Manenberg were abuzz with activity. Manenberg Avenue was cordoned off with orange cones, with a long white and gold sheet of paper spread out down the centre of the road. Sweet treats like dates, apples and packets of chips were set out across the white sheet, ahead of the mass “Boeka in die Laan”.

By 6pm, over 200 people, mostly young children, were already seated alongside the white sheet, waiting to hear the call of the prayer before they could eat.

Children enjoying the annual “Boeka in die Laan” which was held in Manenberg on Sunday.

Similar boeka events are held in communities across Cape Town during the month of Ramadan in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Sunday’s event was hosted by the Manenberg Centre of Islamic Information and Education.

Organiser Moulana Sameeg Norodien says that they chose to have the event in Manenberg Avenue because of its history with deadly gang shootings.

He says that they particularly invited all of the children as they are most at risk of being influenced into joining a gang. “We want them to come join in communal eating instead.”

People were served with dates, apples, chips, akhni and soup. The food was donated by residents and a number of organisations including Gift of the Givers, The Brothers 4 Life Initiative and Jabulani. Ten 100L pots of akhni was distributed.

Norodien says he believes that the good deeds will lead to change.

He says that the aim of the event is to bring unity among community members and “to bring about change”. He says he wants to show people that they care about their neighbours and the children in the streets. “It’s a type of a healing,” he says.

Moulana Sameeg Norodien (far right) and others livestream prayers from Manenberg.

“If Manenberg people can come together, sit around the table just to eat, then surely we can come around the table to discuss our problems as well,” says Vernon Visagie, chairperson of the Manenberg Community Policing Forum. He says there have been spates of gang violence recently in Manenberg, and now they are calling for the violence to stop and for people to unite.

Organisers of the mass boekas hope that the event will unite the embattled community.

Resident Adiel Ajam says they live with the daily threat of gang violence. Ajam says that the mass event has become a tradition in the community. “Ramadan is the best time to give back to the community.”

After the boeka, residents line up to collect the remaining food. Norodien says he hopes that having these events will be a catalyst for peace in the community.

TOPICS:  Religion

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