Academic unravels Indonesian links

Shaanaaz de Jager

MUSLIM graves around Nelson Mandela Bay are the subject of research by an Indonesian Islamic Studies expert to trace the link between Indonesia and the Bay.

As part of his research, Dr Usman Syihab, deputy dean in the State Islamic University Jakarta’s Faculty of Islamic Study, is visiting dozens of graves in Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage and translating the text on the gravestones as part of a heritage project of the consulate general of Indonesia in Cape Town.

Syihab has already found 27 graves at the South End Cemetery in Port Elizabeth and 37 at the Jubilee Park Cemetery in Uitenhage with Arabic and Javanese texts.

The oldest grave, that of Tuan Imam Haji Abu Rafi, who died 157 years ago, was found at South End.

The text on his gravestone – 90% Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language) and 10% Arabic – contains Koran verses and a brief description of the deceased.

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