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Nelson Rolihlahla MANDELA - "Madiba"

Mandela's words, "The struggle is my life," are not to be taken lightly.

Nelson Mandela personifies struggle. He is still leading the fight against apartheid with extraordinary vigour and resilience after spending nearly three decades of his life behind bars. He has sacrificed his private life and his youth for his people, and remains South Africa's best known and loved hero.

Mandela has held numerous positions in the ANC: ANCYL secretary (1948); ANCYL president (1950); ANC Transvaal president (1952); deputy national president (1952) and ANC president (1991).

He was born at Qunu, near Umtata on 18 July 1918.

His father, Henry Mgadla Mandela, was chief councillor to Thembuland's acting paramount chief David Dalindyebo. When his father died, Mandela became the chief's ward and was groomed for the chieftainship.

Mandela matriculated at Healdtown Methodist Boarding School and then started a BA degree at Fort Hare. As an SRC member he participated in a student strike and was expelled, along with the late Oliver Tambo, in 1940. He completed his degree by correspondence from Johannesburg, did articles of clerkship and enrolled for an LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand.

In 1944 he helped found the ANC Youth League, whose Programme of Action was adopted by the ANC in 1949.

Mandela was elected national volunteer-in-chief of the 1952 Defiance Campaign. He travelled the country organising resistance to discriminatory legislation.

He was given a suspended sentence for his part in the campaign. Shortly afterwards a banning order confined him to Johannesburg for six months. During this period he formulated the "M Plan", in terms of which ANC branches were broken down into underground cells.

By 1952 Mandela and Tambo had opened the first black legal firm in the country, and Mandela was both Transvaal president of the ANC and deputy national president.

A petition by the Transvaal Law Society to strike Mandela off the roll of attorneys was refused by the Supreme Court.

In the 'fifties, after being forced through constant bannings to resign officially from the ANC, Mandela analysed the Bantustan policy as a political swindle. He predicted mass removals, political persecutions and police terror.

For the second half of the 'fifties, he was one of the accused in the Treason Trial. With Duma Nokwe, he conducted the defence.

When the ANC was banned after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, he was detained until 1961 when he went underground to lead a campaign for a new national convention.

Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military wing of the ANC, was born the same year. Under his leadership it launched a campaign of sabotage against government and economic installations.

In 1962 Mandela left the country for military training in Algeria and to arrange training for other MK members.

On his return he was arrested for leaving the country illegally and for incitement to strike. He conducted his own defence. He was convicted and jailed for five years in November 1962. While serving his sentence, he was charged, in the Rivonia trial, with sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment.

A decade before being imprisoned, Mandela had spoken out against the introduction of Bantu Education, recommending that community activists "make every home, every shack or rickety structure a centre of learning".

Robben Island, where he was imprisoned, became a centre for learning, and Mandela was a central figure in the organised political education classes.

In prison Mandela never compromised his political principles and was always a source of strength for the other prisoners.

During the 'seventies he refused the offer of a remission of sentence if he recognised Transkei and settled there.

In the 'eighties he again rejected PW Botha's offer of freedom if he renounced violence.

It is significant that shortly after his release on Sunday 11 February 1990, Mandela and his delegation agreed to the suspension of armed struggle.

Mandela has honorary degrees from more than 50 international universities and is chancellor of the University of the North.

He was inaugurated as State President of South Africa on 10 May 1994.


Profile of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Nelson Mandela's greatest pleasure, his most private moment, is watching the sun set with the music of Handel or Tchaikovsky playing.

Locked up in his cell during daylight hours, deprived of music, both these simple pleasures were denied him for decades. With his fellow prisoners, concerts were organised when possible, particularly at Christmas time, where they would sing. Nelson Mandela finds music very uplifting, and takes a keen interest not only in European classical music but also in African choral music and the many talents in South African music. But one voice stands out above all - that of Paul Robeson, whom he describes as our hero.

The years in jail reinforced habits that were already entrenched: the disciplined eating regime of an athlete began in the 1940s, as did the early morning exercise. Still today Nelson Mandela is up by 4.30am, irrespective of how late he has worked the previous evening. By 5am he has begun his exercise routine that lasts at least an hour. Breakfast is by 6.30, when the days newspapers are read. The day s work has begun.

With a standard working day of at least 12 hours, time management is critical and Nelson Mandela is extremely impatient with unpunctuality, regarding it as insulting to those you are dealing with.

When speaking of the extensive travelling he has undertaken since his release from prison, Nelson Mandela says: I was helped when preparing for my release by the biography of Pandit Nehru, who wrote of what happens when you leave jail. My daughter Zinzi says that she grew up without a father, who, when he returned, became a father of the nation. This has placed a great responsibility of my shoulders. And wherever I travel, I immediately begin to miss the familiar - the mine dumps, the colour and smell that is uniquely South African, and, above all, the people. I do not like to be away for any length of time. For me, there is no place like home.

Mandela accepted the Nobel Peace Prize as an accolade to all people who have worked for peace and stood against racism. It was as much an award to his person as it was to the ANC and all South Africa s people. In particular, he regards it as a tribute to the people of Norway who stood against apartheid while many in the world were silent.

We know it was Norway that provided resources for farming; thereby enabling us to grow food; resources for education and vocational training and the provision of accommodation over the years in exile. The reward for all this sacrifice will be the attainment of freedom and democracy in South Africa, in an open society which respects the rights of all individuals. That goal is now in sight, and we have to thank the people and governments of Norway and Sweden for the tremendous role they played.

Personal Tastes

  • Breakfast of plain porridge, with fresh fruit and fresh milk.
  • A favourite is the traditionally prepared meat of a freshly slaughtered sheep, and the delicacy Amarhewu (fermented corn-meal).

A Brief Biographical Note

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in a village near Umtata in the Transkei on the 18 July 1918. His father was the principal councillor to the Acting Paramount Chief of Thembuland. After his father s death, the young Rolihlahla became the Paramount Chief s ward to be groomed to assume high office. However, influenced by the cases that came before the Chief s court, he determined to become a lawyer. Hearing the elders stories of his ancestors valour during the wars of resistance in defence of their fatherland, he dreamed also of making his own contribution to the freedom struggle of his people.

After receiving a primary education at a local mission school, Nelson Mandela was sent to Healdtown, a Wesleyan secondary school of some repute where he matriculated. He then enrolled at the University College of Fort Hare for the Bachelor of Arts Degree where he was elected onto the Student's Representative Council. He was suspended from college for joining in a protest boycott. He went to Johannesburg where he completed his BA by correspondence, took articles of clerkship and commenced study for his LLB. He entered politics in earnest while studying in Johannesburg by joining the African National Congress in 1942.

At the height of the Second World War a small group of young Africans, members of the African National Congress, banded together under the leadership of Anton Lembede. Among them were William Nkomo, Walter Sisulu, Oliver R. Tambo, Ashby P. Mda and Nelson Mandela. Starting out with 60 members, all of whom were residing around the Witwatersrand, these young people set themselves the formidable task of transforming the ANC into a mass movement, deriving its strength and motivation from the unlettered millions of working people in the towns and countryside, the peasants in the rural areas and the professionals.

Their chief contention was that the political tactics of the old guard' leadership of the ANC, reared in the tradition of constitutionalism and polite petitioning of the government of the day, were proving inadequate to the tasks of national emancipation. In opposition to the old guard', Lembede and his colleagues espoused a radical African Nationalism grounded in the principle of national self-determination. In September 1944 they came together to found the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL).

Mandela soon impressed his peers by his disciplined work and consistent effort and was elected to the Secretaryship of the Youth League in 1947. By painstaking work, campaigning at the grassroots and through its mouthpiece Inyaniso' (Truth) the ANCYL was able to canvass support for its policies amongst the ANC membership. At the 1945 annual conference of the ANC, two of the League s leaders, Anton Lembede and Ashby Mda, were elected onto the National Executive Committee (NEC). Two years later another Youth League leader, Oliver R Tambo became a member of the NEC.

Spurred on by the victory of the National Party which won the 1948 all-White elections on the platform of Apartheid, at the 1949 annual conference, the Programme of Action, inspired by the Youth League, which advocated the weapons of boycott, strike, civil disobedience and non-co-operation was accepted as official ANC policy.

The Programme of Action had been drawn up by a sub-committee of the ANCYL composed of David Bopape, Ashby Mda, Nelson Mandela, James Njongwe, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo. To ensure its implementation the membership replaced older leaders with a number of younger men. Walter Sisulu, a founding member of the Youth League was elected Secretary-General. The conservative Dr A.B. Xuma lost the presidency to Dr J.S. Moroka, a man with a reputation for greater militancy. The following year, 1950, Mandela himself was elected to the NEC at national conference.

The ANCYL programme aimed at the attainment of full citizenship, direct parliamentary representation for all South Africans. In policy documents of which Mandela was an important co-author, the ANCYL paid special attention to the redistribution of the land, trade union rights, education and culture. The ANCYL aspired to free and compulsory education for all children, as well as mass education for adults.

When the ANC launched its Campaign for the Defiance of Unjust Laws in 1952, Mandela was elected National Volunteer-in-Chief. The Defiance Campaign was conceived as a mass civil disobedience campaign that would snowball from a core of selected volunteers to involved more and more ordinary people, culminating in mass defiance. Fulfilling his responsibility as Volunteer-in-Chief, Mandela travelled the country organising resistance to discriminatory legislation. Charged and brought to trial for his role in the campaign, the court found that Mandela and his co-accused had consistently advised their followers to adopt a peaceful course of action and to avoid all violence.

For his part in the Defiance Campaign, Mandela was convicted of contravening the Suppression of Communism Act and given a suspended prison sentence. Shortly after the campaign ended, he was also prohibited from attending gatherings and confined to Johannesburg for six months.

During this period of restrictions, Mandela wrote the attorneys admission examination and was admitted to the profession. He opened a practice in Johannesburg, in partnership with Oliver Tambo. In recognition of his outstanding contribution during the Defiance Campaign Mandela had been elected to the presidency of both the Youth League and the Transvaal region of the ANC at the end of 1952, he thus became a deputy president of the ANC itself.

Of their law practice, Oliver Tambo, ANC National Chairman at the time of his death in April 1993, has written:

To reach our desks each morning Nelson and I ran the gauntlet of patient queues of people overflowing from the chairs in the waiting room into the corridors... To be landless (in South Africa) can be a crime, and weekly we interviewed the delegations of peasants who came to tell us how many generations their families had worked a little piece of land from which they were now being ejected... To live in the wrong area can be a crime... Our buff office files carried thousands of these stories and if, when we started our law partnership, we had not been rebels against apartheid, our experiences in our offices would have remedied the deficiency. We had risen to professional status in our community, but every case in court, every visit to the prisons to interview clients, reminded us of the humiliation and suffering burning into our people.

Nor did their professional status earn Mandela and Tambo any personal immunity from the brutal apartheid laws. They fell foul of the land segregation legislation, and the authorities demanded that they move their practice from the city to the back of beyond, as Mandela later put it, miles away from where clients could reach us during working hours. This was tantamount to asking us to abandon our legal practice, to give up the legal service of our people... No attorney worth his salt would easily agree to do that, said Mandela and the partnership resolved to defy the law.

Nor was the government alone in trying to frustrate Mandela s legal practice. On the grounds of his conviction under the Suppression of Communism Act, the Transvaal Law Society petitioned the Supreme Court to strike him off the roll of attorneys. The petition was refused with Mr Justice Ramsbottom finding that Mandela had been moved by a desire to serve his black fellow citizens and nothing he had done showed him to be unworthy to remain in the ranks of an honourable profession.

In 1952 Nelson Mandela was given the responsibility to prepare an organisational plan that would enable the leadership of the movement to maintain dynamic contact with its membership without recourse to public meetings. The objective was to prepare for the contingency of proscription by building up powerful local and regional branches to whom power could be devolved. This was the M-Plan, named after him.

During the early fifties Mandela played an important part in leading the resistance to the Western Areas removals and to the introduction of Bantu Education. He also played a significant role in popularising the Freedom Charter, adopted by the Congress of the People in 1955.

In the late fifties, Mandela s attention turned to the struggles against the exploitation of labour, the pass laws, the nascent Bantustan policy, and the segregation of the open universities. Mandela arrived at the conclusion very early on that the Bantustan policy was a political swindle and an economic absurdity. He predicted, with dismal prescience, that ahead there lay a grim programme of mass evictions, political persecutions, and police terror. On the segregation of the universities, Mandela observed that the friendship and inter-racial harmony that is forged through the admixture and association of various racial groups at the mixed universities constitute a direct threat to the policy of apartheid and baasskap, and that it was to remove that threat that the open universities were being closed to black students.

During the whole of the fifties, Mandela was the victim of various forms of repression. He was banned, arrested and imprisoned. For much of the latter half of the decade, he was one of the accused in the mammoth Treason Trial, at great cost to his legal practice and his political work. After the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, the ANC was outlawed, and Mandela, still on trial, was detained.

The Treason Trial collapsed in 1961 as South Africa was being steered towards the adoption of the republic constitution. With the ANC now illegal the leadership picked up the threads from its underground headquarters. Nelson Mandela emerged at this time as the leading figure in this new phase of struggle. Under the ANC's inspiration, 1,400 delegates came together at an All-in African Conference in Pietermaritzburg during March 1961. Mandela was the keynote speaker. In an electrifying address he challenged the apartheid regime to convene a national convention, representative of all South Africans to thrash out a new constitution based on democratic principles. Failure to comply, he warned, would compel the majority (Blacks) to observe the forthcoming inauguration of the Republic with a mass general strike. He immediately went underground to lead the campaign. Although fewer answered the call than Mandela had hoped, it attracted considerable support throughout the country. The government responded with the largest military mobilisation since the war, and the Republic was born in an atmosphere of fear and apprehension.

Forced to live apart from his family, moving from place to place to evade detection by the government s ubiquitous informers and police spies, Mandela had to adopt a number of disguises. Sometimes dressed as a common labourer, at other times as a chauffeur, his successful evasion of the police earned him the title of the Black Pimpernel. It was during this time that he, together with other leaders of the ANC constituted a new specialised section of the liberation movement, Umkhonto we Sizwe, as an armed nucleus with a view to preparing for armed struggle. At the Rivonia trial, Mandela explained : "At the beginning of June 1961, after long and anxious assessment of the South African situation, I and some colleagues came to the conclusion that as violence in this country was inevitable, it would be wrong and unrealistic for African leaders to continue preaching peace and non-violence at a time when the government met our peaceful demands with force.

It was only when all else had failed, when all channels of peaceful protest had been barred to us, that the decision was made to embark on violent forms of political struggle, and to form Umkhonto we Sizwe...the Government had left us no other choice."

In 1961 Umkhonto we Sizwe was formed, with Mandela as its commander-in-chief. In 1962 Mandela left the country unlawfully and travelled abroad for several months. In Ethiopia he addressed the Conference of the Pan African Freedom Movement of East and Central Africa, and was warmly received by senior political leaders in several countries. During this trip Mandela, anticipating an intensification of the armed struggle, began to arrange guerrilla training for members of Umkhonto we Sizwe.

Not long after his return to South Africa Mandela was arrested and charged with illegal exit from the country, and incitement to strike.

Since he considered the prosecution a trial of the aspirations of the African people, Mandela decided to conduct his own defence. He applied for the recusal of the magistrate, on the ground that in such a prosecution a judiciary controlled entirely by whites was an interested party and therefore could not be impartial, and on the ground that he owed no duty to obey the laws of a white parliament, in which he was not represented.

Mandela prefaced this challenge with the affirmation: I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.

Mandela was convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment. While serving his sentence he was charged, in the Rivonia Trial, with sabotage. Mandela s statements in court during these trials are classics in the history of the resistance to apartheid, and they have been an inspiration to all who have opposed it. His statement from the dock in the Rivonia Trial ends with these words:

I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment. While on Robben Island, Mandela flatly rejected offers made by his jailers for remission of sentence in exchange for accepting the bantustan policy by recognising the independence of the Transkei and agreeing to settle there. Again in the eighties Mandela rejected an offer of release on condition that he renounce violence. Prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Only free men can negotiate, he said.

Released on 18 February 1990, Mandela plunged wholeheartedly into his life's work, striving to attain the goals he and others had set out almost four decades earlier. In 1991, at the first national conference of the ANC held inside South Africa after being banned for decades, Nelson Mandela was elected President of the ANC while his lifelong friend and colleague, Oliver Tambo, became the organisation's National Chairperson.

Nelson Mandela has never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality and learning. Despite terrible provocation, he has never answered racism with racism. His life has been an inspiration, in South Africa and throughout the world, to all who are oppressed and deprived, to all who are opposed to oppression and deprivation.

In a life that symbolises the triumph of the human spirit over man s inhumanity to man, Nelson Mandela accepted the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of all South Africans who suffered and sacrificed so much to bring peace to our land.


Taken from

Hayaa (Morality)

What is the meaning of Hayaa? Hayaa literally means self shame, modesty or morality. The noble Ulama have explained Hayaa to be a condition within ourselves that prevents us from committing any action that Allah Ta’ala has prohibited us from doing.

How important is Hayaa in the life of a Muslim? Rasulullah [Sallallahu alayhi wasallam] has mentioned in a Hadith that Imaan has 70 branches. The highest form of Imaan is belief in the Kalimah “Laailaha illallah” and the lowest form of Imaan is to move a harmful object from the path to save others from being harmed by it. Thereafter Nabi [Sallallahu alayhi wasallam] said that Hayaa (self shame, modesty, morality) is also a branch of Imaan. From this Hadith we understand how important Hayaa is in the life of a Muslim.

What will happen to a person who does not have Hayaa? Rasulullah [Sallallahu alayhi wasallam] has mentioned in a Hadith that when a person has no Hayaa (shame) then he will do as he pleases. We understand from this Hadith that without hayaa in a persons life one will do anything no matter how immoral it may be and wont even think of its evil consequences. As long as a person has Hayaa it will be extremely difficult for him to commit any evil or obscene acts. He will always be careful of what he does thus protecting his honour and the honour of his parents, teachers, families, friends etc.


Factors that lead to immorality

1. Television: One of the greatest tools of Shaytaan by which he leads people to immorality and shamelessness is the cursed television. It steals away all the good that is within us. Such immoral scenes are shown, that no Muslim should ever watch it. Because of this television many of our homes are deprived of barakah (blessings). The malaaikah (angels) stay far away from our homes. We must stop watching this television. In this way our homes will be filled with lots of blessings and good.

2. Newspapers and Magazines: Unfortunately, nowadays it is not even safe to read the newspapers. They are full of haraam pictures which draw the punishment of Allah Ta’ala. Children especially should not be reading these newspapers and magazines as there are very obscene pictures which create immorality in our lives.

3. Lack of Hijaab (Purdah): Allah Ta’ala has forbidden boys and girls to mix freely. It is not permissible for men and women to speak freely with one another. Allah Ta’ala has commanded both, men and women in the Qur’aan to lower their gazes. If just looking at other females is impermissible how can it ever be permissible to speak and mix freely with them. Allah Ta’ala has commanded all believing women to wear the purdah and cover themselves in this way protecting their honour and chastity.

4. Improper Dressing: Islaam has even taught us how to dress. Women should at all times keep their entire bodies covered. The kuffaar have made us dress indecently and as a result of this we have lost our hayaa, shame and dignity. As Muslims we should always dress in accordance to the sunnah.

In conclusion we make dua to Allah Ta’ala to instil this great quality of Hayaa into each and every one us. May He make us all good Muslims who will obey His every command and may He be pleased with us both in this world and the next. Aameen.

My Son Aadil ... Our Inspiration

My son Aadil was the eldest of my children. He started madrasah in Shallcross at the age of seven. Despite his asthmatic condition was always punctual for his lessons from a very young age. Two years after attending the madrasah I found his akhlaaq (character) improving. He always dressed according to the sunnah and was never seen without an amaamah (turban). He was always respectful and helpful to his mu’allimahs.

Daily he would gather his classmates and they would all go to madrasah together. He would take special care ensuring that the little one’s cross the road safely. He was very particular about gathering his friends for Jumuah Salaah on Friday and Taraweeh Salaah during the month of Ramadhaan.

At home he always helped his mother and granny with household chores. One outstanding quality in him was, he always shared what he had with others. On Fridays he would make sure he put his spending money into the musjid collection box. In Ramadhaan he saved his pocket money until he collected ten rands which he gave to his Aapa to give to the poor as Sadaqatul Fitr.

When the Ta’limi Board initiated the durood challenge, Aadil took it very seriously. After listening to the virtues of durood shareef, he dedicated much of his time to its recitation. (He was due to receive the certificate for the most amount of durood recited in his Madrasah). During this time he began having beautiful dreams. He dreamt of a handsome man wearing an amaamah and a white kurta. He could not see his face due to the noor emanating there-from. He also dreamt of a beautiful garden with beautiful flowers the like of which has never been seen in this world. The third dream he saw himself and his parents going to Madinah. There were many people present and he could feel the presence of Rasulullah [sallallahu alayhi wasallam]. Thereafter they went to Makkah where he performed tawaaf of the Ka’bah.

He always asked me (his mother) to leave work and spend my time at home saying that this world is of no value. [I have since left work]. He would tell everyone to stop watching television. He always wanted to become a Haafiz and made a firm intention to do so next year.

On Monday 21 May 2007 he suffered an asthma attack and breathed his last at the age of eleven. May Allah Ta’ala fill his qabar with Noor and make him an inspiration for the entire Ummah Aameen.

His Mother...

Dua to be Recited at the Approach of Ramadhaan

Hadhrat Ubaadah bin Saamit (Radi Allahu Anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to teach the Sahaabah (Radi Allahu Anhum) the following Dua at the approach of the Month of Ramadhaan:


اَللَّهُمَّ سَلِّمْنِيْ لِرَمَضَانَ وَسَلِّمْ رَمَضَانَ لِيْ وَسَلِّمْهُ لِيْ مُتَقَبَّلاً



“O Allah! Safeguard me for the Month of Ramadhaan (by making me see the Month of Ramadhaan healthy and fit so that I can take maximum benefit from it), and safeguard the Month of Ramadhaan for me (by making the conditions in it such that I can take maximum benefit from it) and accept it from me.”

(Kanz-ul-ummal, Vol.8, Pg. 584 Hadith 24277)

Every Muslim should endeavor to memorize this dua and recite it in abundance in the months preceding Ramadhaan.

Be on your Guard!

The wealth of knowledge stored and accessed through the internet is indeed colossal and unlimited. People have access to all kinds of information. And each day the information continues to grow and multiply.

While the internet may be used to one's great advantage sourcing information at the press of a button, one may possibly be ruined and misled. Apart from the evils like porn, addiction, etc, another serious problem faced by the Muslim user is the adulterated and fabricated Islamic information. One cannot imagine the number of illegal and corrupted websites posing as “Islamic websites”. Often such sites are cleverly set-up by Jewish agencies, Qadiyani groups and other deviated sects.

Muslims must be wary and alert about the dozens of such un-Islamic sites. Don't be fooled by the Islamic calligraphy, Islamic quotations, terminology, photo images of the Kaabah. For example, often the twist and curls are subtle but yet resoundingly convincing.

Next time be alert and wide awake.

Please pass this message to others.

Darul Ihsan



Everybody loves cheese, but few people know much about it. So many flavours, so many colours, even the smell can be overwhelming at times. We all know it is made from milk, and that it comes in many shapes and forms, flavours and textures. But cheese is so much more than a dairy product; it is a part of human history, an heirloom passed down from antiquity. Throughout every generation, people have seen the craft of cheese making not only as a skill, but as an art form as well. It is an ancient food, which carries much history.

The Cheese is Born

The ancient lineage of cheese dates all the way to 6000 BC in Mesopotamia, which is today Iraq. Folklore has it that it was an accidental discovery by an unknown Arab. To prepare for his journey through the desert, he stored milk into a saddlebag, which was made out of the stomach of an animal. Midway through his trip, he noticed that the milk had formed into curds and whey. Although the man did not know this then, this was due to the rennin, a coagulating enzyme released from the saddlebag. The heat of the desert sun and the rocking movement of his horse had caused the milk to separate into curds and whey. The Arab found it quite suitable for eating, and the rest is ancient history.

An Empire of Cheese:

Many farmers found the method of converting milk into a solid as a useful way to store dairy. They allowed milk to curdle and would strike it with branches, later pressing it on stones and leaving it out to dry in the sun. Cheese from the milk of goats and ewes was used in pastries, and served to soldiers and sailors during their long journeys across the land and sea.

Nineteen centuries ago technology had advanced to where cheese presses were invented to press the curd. The Romans discovered how to ripen the cheese to get a certain taste, and what conditions are needed in order to acquire a particular texture and aroma. The Holy Roman emperor Charlemagne discovered blue cheese on a trip through his country and popularized it throughout the Empire. The Roman Empire had much to do with the diversification and popularization of cheeses. The expanding Roman Empire brought to its conquered peoples these methods and techniques, which then got transformed and assimilated throughout the Empire.


The collapse of the Roman Empire caused many of these cheese-making techniques to be forgotten and fall into disuse, to persevere only in relatively remote areas, such as the mountains and monasteries (thus the term ‘monastery’ cheese), where many cheeses are still produced today.

The monks were expert cheese makers, developing innovative and original cheeses that are still eaten today. The cheeses that most blossomed in this era were from France. Cheese was a popular product throughout the countryside and villages, enjoyed by everyone from royalty to peasantry.

From Artisan to Industrial, and back again:

The Industrial Revolution saw a heavy decline of traditional 'artisanal' methods of cheese making. Cheeses manufactured in factories were usually creamy and mild in taste, but widely available to the public, under the name of industriel cheese. By the 20th century, most cheeses were made in factories. Recent trends and demand for quality, not quantity, brought the comeback of the traditional cheese-making techniques, the fermier (farm-made) and artisan cheese, very labour-intensive, producing cheeses of high quality and delicate flavour.

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