'Suidooster' actress Jawaahier Petersen shares her fond Christmas Day memories

Jawaahier Petersen plays the charismatic chef and restaurant owner, Kaashifa Samsodien in the soapie, ‘Suidooster’. Here she is seen with her co-star, Irshaad Ally. Picture: Supplied

Jawaahier Petersen plays the charismatic chef and restaurant owner, Kaashifa Samsodien in the soapie, ‘Suidooster’. Here she is seen with her co-star, Irshaad Ally. Picture: Supplied

Published Dec 22, 2023


In a city with a melting pot of cultures, it is common for some Capetonians to practice one religion and have very close family practising another.

It is not surprising that Cape Town is fondly known as the one city of many cultures.

‘Suidooster’ actress Jawaahier Petersen is no exception, she has fond memories of visiting her maternal granny, uncles, and aunts on Christmas Day.

Her mom, Madeegha Anders was born Christian hence Jawaahier and her siblings would annually spend Christmas Day with her mom’s family.

“We are very blessed in the sense that we have a powerful Muslim influence from my father’s side of the family, we are born and bred Muslims, but we were exposed to Christianity via my granny, aunts, uncles and cousins,” said Petersen.

“My mom’s sister sang in church; my uncle has his own church. Growing up, Christmas was celebrated by Mamma in Mitchell’s Plain.

“My grandparents were divorced so we would also go to my grandfather and at his place there would be a little gift under the Christmas tree with our names on it,” said Petersen.

“My one aunt allowed us to open some gifts Christmas Eve and the rest we will eagerly open when the family come from church the next morning,” Petersen added.

“Now that my grandparents have passed on, we still to this day go visit my aunt and uncle on Christmas Day. All the food will be halaal and we will have a feast,” said Petersen.

'Suidooster' actress, Jawaahier Petersen has fond memories of celebrating Christmas with her maternal family. Picture: Supplied

Coming from a musical family, Petersen reminisced about how they used to sing Christmas carols.

“We knew the hymns, so we would sing along, and Christmas is always a very special time.

“My mom would still put up the Christmas tree for my kids, but now they are older and came to realise that their granny was always playing Santa Claus and that Father Christmas doesn’t exist,” a laughing Petersen said.

According to Petersen, this tradition won’t die down easily but she has always maintained that she won’t confuse her kids.

“My aunt now has the tree at her house, and we go there with my kids. That way, I don’t confuse my children,” said Petersen.

Petersen’s ‘Suidooster’ character Kaashifa Samsodien is the head chef and owner of her very own restaurant. Like her character, she also loves cooking and her favourite dish to make is a hearty pasta.

“Me and my family absolutely love pasta in all its shapes and sizes. The nice thing about pasta is that there will always be leftovers. My kids also love fruit and what is not to like about summer fruits?” added Petersen.

What are your fondest festive and summer childhood memories?

“We were the family that had a pool at our house, so my cousins from both sides were always visiting and we would braai and just be jolly swimming ourselves silly. You would wake up and the next minute you are in the pool.

“My dad would buy boxes of 'suckers' and ‘bompies’ and the freezer would be filled for our satisfaction.

“My father was the best at cutting a watermelon and he would always leave some of the centre ‘crown pieces’ for me.”

Petersen lovingly remembers a November road trip her late father, Taliep Petersen took them on in 2006.

“My parents were divorced, so we spent one week with my mom and another week with my dad.

“At my mom’s place, we would sing together all the time, but we were somehow a bit weary to sing at my dad’s place.

“My dad would sometimes get too technical with our singing and that was to understand, he was working with music all the time.

“In November of 2006, he took us on a road trip to PE, we got fed up listening to the same CDs repeatedly, and the radio signal got lost between the little dorpies.

“My brother grabbed my dad’s guitar from the back of the car and Ashur started playing Michael Bublé’s ‘Home’ while my dad was busy reciting a prayer using the prayer beads.

“We dived in singing our harmonies and we were all jolly that we nailed it. I remember sitting behind my dad and I looked at him in the rearview mirror and I spotted a tear running from his one eye.

“He looked at us and said I never thought the world was ready to hear my children sing until now,” said Petersen.

The singing continued until the Petersen clan reached their destination and it is a memory that will always be engraved in their hearts.

“My father joined in the singing and this to me was the moment my dad acknowledged that his children have talent,” said Petersen.

Jawaahier Petersen plays the charismatic chef and restaurant owner, Kaashifa Samsodien in the soapie, ‘Suidooster’. Here she is seen with her co-star, Irshaad Ally. Picture: Supplied

With Petersen having downed tools at the ‘Suidooster’ studios and learning lines is not quite the order of the day for now, she loves digging into all the Christmas movies on offer.

“My Netflix list is ready and waiting for me, I simply love a Christmas movie. I mean what’s not to love and we must watch ‘Home Alone’ with the kids,” said Petersen.

“It is shutdown time, so I spend lots of time with my family. My children are older now and they have a better understanding of me stopping to pose for a photo with a supporter. This is the time when I get to engage with people and just be merry,” said Petersen.

So, does Petersen watch Kaashifa every night?

“There was a time when I watched it regularly, for my performance and to see where I could have done it differently or improve.

“But then I get busy with a hectic storyline, or I am busy with another project, but I try to watch some of the episodes every month,” said Petersen who is also the cultural advisor of ‘Suidooster’.

This means that Petersen is being consulted by the writers of the show to assist in guiding them on the cultural fit of a storyline and how it must be done in a Cape Malay setting.

But it also goes beyond that, and she would have to advise on how to structure the Islamic props on set.

“Islam is Islam, but people practice it differently. In Cape Town we have our customs whereas in Durban or Saudi Arabia, the Muslims have their way of doing things,” said Petersen.

“We strive at ‘Suidooster’ to get it right, to make it as authentic and representative as possible,” said Petersen.

Petersen’s message to her supporters is to spread the love and be safe.

“Family is big to me, I am very fond of family, we also commemorated the passing of my dad on the 16th of December, and it is just a reminder that at the end of the day family is family.

“Family doesn’t have to share the same DNA, the people that make us feel whole can be our family.

“It is a time to be with your family and the relationships we have with people is more important than the material things surrounding the festivities,” said Petersen.

“Take time out to appreciate your loved ones – that is what matters to me and most of all, be safe out there,” Petersen encouraged.

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