SIGN OF THE TIMES: A reunion was held at Trafalgar High School for pupils and staff of the Muir Street Muslim School of District Six. Muir Street Primary was established in the 1930s. The building was demolished shortly after the Group Areas Act declared the area white in the 1950s, and residents were evicted. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - Fifty years after the Muir Street Muslim School in District Six was demolished, some alumni decided that it was time for a reunion.

To their surprise, about 350 people aged between 45 and 90 showed up to the event, hosted at Trafalgar High School on Sunday. The room bubbled with energy as past friends and teachers embraced one another and celebrated the historical school, left out of many history books.

The oldest Muir Street alumnus, Johaar Mosaval, 90, who was the first black and Muslim dancer to be appointed principal dancer with England’s Royal Ballet, said it was an honour to be at the reunion and spoke of his days as a school monitor when he was given the task of buying roti and curry for one of his teachers.

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Teacher Amina Safodien reminisced about taking school pupils to the clinic to have their teeth extracted and spoke of how they would return to school with a mouth filled with cotton balls.

The alumni beamed with school pride and spoke of their childhood days before their lives were uprooted by the apartheid regime.

“We are the first pupils to have a reunion for a school that doesn’t exist,” said Mogamat Kamedien

“We are the last generation, of urban-wide Group Areas forced removals that relocated to the Cape Flats, who had our childhood school days disrupted due to displacement at a young age.

“One former pupil stated that she is keen to reconnect with her young classmates because Group Areas forced removals never gave her a chance to say goodbye to her peers,” he said.

The alumni were now able to share their triumphs and engage on the more serious matter of reclaiming the land on which Muir Street primary school once stood.

“We want to get back the land which the school was situated on. It’s not impossible in terms of the constitution.

“We’re interested in land reform, that our property be returned to us.

“Our forebears had the land expropriated from them. The (District Six) working committee is small but powerful, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation has welcomed us,” said Shaheed Ajam.

The alumni are hoping to reclaim the land and to build an institute of education in memory of the school’s founding fathers.

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Cape Argus