Dr Halim Gencoğlu, postdoctoral fellow, Centre for African Studies – Recentring Afro-Asia Project

This lecture will reveal a story of piracy, slavery and previously unknown details of the Cape’s links to the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century. It chronicles the life of a freed slave, Carel Pelgrim, who made the first pilgrimage to Mecca from the Cape. He is thought to have been Hadje Gasanodien, the son of an Ottoman merchant captured by pirates off what is now known as Maputo, Mozambique, in 1772 and sold into slavery.Ottoman State Archives carry records of Carel’s later Ottoman connections. These mention that his son was from Mecca, studied there and was later appointed principal of the Ottoman Arabic School in Cape Town.Several Turkish archival documents bear out the relationship between Mahmud Fakih Effendi and his Imperial Ottoman School in Castle Street. He lived and died at 71 Wale Street, which is now home to the Bo-Kaap Museum.Turkish archival documents clearly prove that Mahmud Effendi was appointed at the Imperial Ottoman School in Cape Town not only because of his Islamic knowledge but because of his relations with the Ottoman Empire.


Recommended reading

Hoosain, M. 2007. Doctoral thesis entitled: The Transformation in The Management and Traditions of Hajj at the Cape. University of Kwazulu-Natal.

Loos, J. 2004. Echoes of Slavery: Voices from South Africa’s Past. Cape Town: David Philip



DATE: Thursday 29 July 2021   
 TIME: 5.00pm–6.00pm
COURSE FEES: R75