Sunday, July 15

The bright side of life

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A third-generation Bo-Kaap resident describes how the colourful nature of her home represents her family

Bo-Kaap resident Wafeqah Adams says her brightly coloured home represents what her family is all about.

Even though she’s spent the past 18 years climbing the corporate ladder, Adams, 48, says she’s a mother and caregiver first.

With a background in finance and a corporate managerial role at one of the world’s leading oil companies, Adams says continuing to challenge herself and always learning is at the core of her being.

She also loves the outdoors, exploring new places, camping and travelling.

“If I stand in the queue at a grocery store, my R10 is worth the same as the R10 belonging to the person next to me. It doesn’t matter what job we did to get it. My professional title only matters within the walls of my office. My family is everything,” she says.

The Bo-Kaap resident is part of a big family of people who have lived in the District Six and Bo-Kaap areas since the early 1900s. Even though the houses are colourful on the outside, Adams says the inspiration for the colourful interior of her home owes more to her personality and love of life than the Bo-Kaap tradition, although that’s also a huge part of who she is.

The Bo-Kaap is known for its strong culture, close community and colourful houses. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA


“The colours represent me and my children, and a new era in my life. When I redid the house, I had just remarried after being a single mother for 15 years. It was about celebrating life, new beginnings, new opportunities and second chances. I was finally doing something for me.”

Adams considers herself a “push-the-boundaries” type of person, one who is always challenging the status quo, and that is clearly seen in her home décor.

“The house needed to represent me, my personality and who I am, but also who we are as a family. We are a bubbly, lively and outgoing family. We don’t accept things just the way they are. My house is an expression of my life.”

Who lives in the house with you?

“My husband, two daughters, son and my mother, the original owner of the house.”

How did you know these colours would work and complement one another?

“I didn’t. I took it as it came and they just looked good to me. I’m not conventional in my thinking or my approach to anything. Conventional thinking says put black and white together, so I did the opposite.”

The bright main bedroom. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA


How did you choose the colours for each specific area?

“I started with base colours. I thought, what do I want the primary colour in the lounge to be? Green represented nurturing and livelihood and the lounge was a communal space, so it seemed right. Then I thought, which colour is the most contrasting, and went with that. I also took the wood and natural layout of the house into account.

“My bedroom is where I spend most of my time, so I wanted it to symbolise who I am.

“Yellow and orange were bright and showed my vibrancy. When I chose colours for the childrens’ rooms, it was a combination of factors. The colours in the three rooms represented how my children bring me together as a person and a mother.

“Their room colours are a marriage of the rest of the house. My oldest daughter’s room has a different colour on each wall because that’s how she is. My son is a typical boy’s boy, moody and blue, so blue it was, just a different shade on each wall. My creative child, the youngest, is always painting and drawing, so green suited her.”

Let’s talk about the kitchen?

Wafeqah Adams says she expresses herself best in the kitchen. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA


“The kitchen is my safe haven, my happy place. My stove is my favourite item in the house. I have a challenging job, but it’s rigid and structured.

“The kitchen is where I can be creative. It challenges my thinking.

“My job is filled with policies and compliance, but in the kitchen I can be free and expressive. I love to see people enjoying themselves when they eat what I’ve created.”

Do you have family gatherings and celebrate Eid in your home?

“Yes, and it’s amazing how many people we can fit into our tiny lounge. I have an open-door policy but people in my family know to respect my space. My childrens’ friends know they are always welcome. We’ve figured out the perfect formula for shifting furniture in the lounge around to suit any occasion and maximise the space.”

How long has your family been in this particular house?

“Post-apartheid my mother was on a waiting list for land restitution and was given the opportunity to purchase this piece of land from the government, so she did and built this house over time, as she could afford it. I bought it from her and moved in about 12 years ago.”

Shakirah Dramat a fourth-generation Bo-Kaap resident and a member of Bo-Kaap Rise.

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