My Cape Malay DNA Ethnicity decoded

Cape Malay rugby team

The DNA Ethnicity Estimate that I received recently calls in to question much of what I thought I knew about my ancestry. I have always wondered about my origins and ancestry with little means to determine it, until I found

Unlike the Ancestry and 23andMe sites, My Heritage does testing for people all over the world. Those who have already done a DNA test at another site are also able to upload their results to check for any matches.

My results were surprising and in some ways very unexpected.

Why take a DNA Ethnicity test?

The idea to take a DNA test to determine my ethnicity took root in Singapore a few years ago. The locals automatically assumed I was Malay when I travelled in Malaysia and Singapore with my parents in the past. I was often offered that last seat on the bus because my father looked South Asian and my mother mixed race, and they were generally ignored.

On my solo trip to Singapore I went to Kampong Glam in search of the Poppy Fabric Shop. My father and I found it when we searched for my cousin’s wedding lace on our trip in 1994. I was close to the end of Arab Street and had given up finding the shop when a Malay shop assistant started talking to me.

I stepped into the shop to tell her I could not hear her and do not speak Malay. She laughed and said in perfect English ‘I’m sorry, I thought you were Malay’. I laughed and said ‘I guess I am but not from here.’ She was so excited to finally meet a Cape Malay and called her boss. At that moment I looked up at the silk rolls behind her and realised that the price tag said ‘Poppy Fabric’!

If you want to learn more about our Cape Malay customs and celebrations then my articles about a typical Cape Malay Eid or our Traditions may be useful.

Our paternal and maternal family names give an indication of our ancestry but with the complex social and political systems it was difficult to separate fact from fiction and myth from reality. I don’t have any children and the closest DNA descendants are my brother’s children.

Schroeder family
Left to Right: Razena, Mogamat Armien, Rashiek

Race classification and ethnicity in South Africa

In Cape Town people like us with the same religion, cultural identity and similar coloring and features were classified as Cape Malay, a sub-group of the Coloured race classification. The term coloured was used to refer to the varied ethnic group of mixed race peoples.

I was very aware of the fact that our ethnicity and identity made us different; made us less; in Apartheid South Africa. We were not as restricted as blacks nor as entitled as whites, but in a wasteland somewhere in between.

I learned that although we were not required to carry the hated ‘dompas’, we also could not enter any establishment or leisure facility that was for ‘Whites Only’; except as cleaners or through a back entrance reserved for non-whites.

I learned that although our Cape Flats suburb was not surrounded by 10 foot high fences or controlled by curfews; we could not stay in the city of Bloemfontein after dark because my father could be mistaken for an Indian.

My late father abhorred the term Cape Malay for most of his life because it was used as a negative classification of race and ethnicity. Those who considered themselves to be superior to us employed it as a derogatory term. They meant to further demean us with terms like ‘Kuli’ / ‘Coolie’, a reference to an unskilled Asian labourer.

Who are the Cape Malays?

We are considered to be the descendants of mostly Muslim Malay slaves, political exiles or political prisoners (and their slave owners) from the Dutch East Indies. Our ancestors (Islamic scholars, nobility, artisans) were exiled from their homelands by colonial masters of the VOC ( Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) aka United East Indies Company because they opposed the occupation and colonisation of their lands and peoples. They were the violently abused, neglected and mistreated souls on whose backs the early Cape Colony was built.

Where did the Cape Malay people come from?

My recent online reading indicates that in reality, for more than 200 years the Dutch East India Company brought slaves from many of their South East Asian directorates, protectorates and colonies. This included not only modern day Indonesia and Malacca but also Dutch India (Coromandel Coast, Malabar Coast, Surat and Bengal) and Dutch Ceylon (Sri Lanka). There were also slaves from West and East Africa and Madagascar. It appears that all these immigrant populations were absorbed into the early Cape Malay identity, if they were adherents of Islam.

This may explain why so many of the Cape Malay staples like Daltjies, Boeber, Pancakes, Biryani, Roti and Curry amongst others seem to have derived from South Asian and South East Asian cuisines.

Like many non-white ethnically diverse populations, the characteristics that were most prized amongst the Cape Malays were fair skins, light eyes and straight hair that didn’t frizz up in the early morning mist that often covers the City Bowl and Cape Flats.

Read more: Cape Malay Recipes

My DNA Ethnicity according to family sources

Paternal ancestry anecdotal evidence

On my father’s side of the family the anecdotal evidence is very slim. Both he and his older sister were very young when their parents died. All we have is a North German surname and the stories that my father had heard as a child.

My father’s brother in law once told me that my cousin Baadier and I looked more like his wife and my maternal grandmother, than any of the other cousins. I always assumed this meant that I had a leaning towards my Malay ancestry. His son, my cousin Shakir, shared the photo below of my grandfather with a few of their children. Shakir commented that Tietie, my father’s eldest sister and I look most like my grandmother.

My Aunty Gadija identified the children in the photo. My grandfather is in the back holding her (the baby) while Tietie is standing next to him. From left to right in the front are my Uncle Maan (Abdurahmaan), Ammi (Moosa) and Boeta Gampie (Mogamat) and Aunty (Zuleigha). Missing from the photo are the eldest brother Boeta (Ebrahim), Aunty Tieya (Mariam) and my father who was not yet born.

If Uncle Maan is in the bottom left hand corner and Tietie is the woman in the back row, then they are spitting images of each other even though Tietie was fair and Uncle Maan was darker.

  • My grandparents lived at 251 Hanover, District Six until their deaths but their origins before their marriage are not known.
  • According to the family oral tradition, when my grandparents registered their first child the government official refused to register them with my grandfather’s actual surname Schröder. Apparently the official insisted that any child from a Malay woman should be registered as Schroeder. A google search of the family name Schroeder brought up many similar spellings and confirmed that it is an ancient German surname from the North East regions that is widespread through central and eastern Europe.
  • My grandfather’s entire family, except for his sister Edith, rejected his marriage to my Muslim Cape Malay grandmother and broke all family ties with him. My father remembered a man who passed by their house in District Six when he was a child and would toss him a Half Crown without saying a word. My father learned that it was my grandfather’s brother long after the man stopped passing by.
  • My grandmother’s surname was Akiemdien and a google search did not reveal much except that the surname only seems to be found in South Africa and two other places. Phonetically similar names are found in India and Philippines. A reader from Malaysia indicated that Akiemdien could be a derivative of Hakimuddin, as Malays often dropped the initial h sounds in words.
  • My brother recently found copies of the death certificates of both my grandparents via an online registry of historical records. None of us had ever seen it before and I burst into tears on first sight.
  • My grandfather’s cause of death on 20th March 1946 was listed as Pulmonary Tuberculosis, which is consistent with the family oral tradition. I didn’t realise until I viewed my grandfather’s death certificate that he was only 40 years old at the time of his death, a month before my father’s 3rd birthday.
  • His birth name had been Frederick Schröder; so not only did they strip his children of our original family name but it appears that my grandfather was also re-classified as Malay after his marriage to my grandmother. His Muslim name was recorded on the death certificate and he was buried Ismail Schroeder. Subsequent baptism certificates for three children that may be my grandfather and his siblings indicate that the surname change had happened at the time of my grandfather’s baptism. His older brother’s surname was mentioned as Schröder but on their certificates my grandfather and his sister Edith were recorded with Schroeder. 
  • My grandmother died on 2nd June 1949, three years after my grandfather. Her cause of death was listed as Chronic Nephritis, High blood pressure and Cardiac failure. The family oral tradition held that she died from cardiac arrest during an asthma attack.

Maternal ancestry anecdotal evidence

On my mother’s side of the family the anecdotal evidence is all from my mother’s only surviving sister, Aunty Doreen, who was born when my great-grandparents were still alive. She had seen many of the older generation during her childhood and teens.

For more than forty years I listened to Aunty Doreen and her recollections of our family origins and ancestry. About how a few of my cousins and I share the almond eye trait from our Japanese great great-grandfather. A descendant of my great-grandfather or great great-grandfather found me via this article when she too was searching for her maternal ancestors from the Heugh line. Her discoveries have been nothing short of miraculous given the few records that are accessible. 

Arendse family in the Tembe wedding photo

Left to right: My maternal grandparents Arend and Elizabeth, Patrick and Betty Tembe, groom’s brother, my mother in the pink dress, groom’s father

  • My grandmother’s father was said to be a German immigrant referred to as Papi and his surname was Heugh. Their family moved to Cape Town from a German mission station at Saron in the Tulbagh district of the Western Cape. 
  • A google search of the family name Heugh reveals that it was from Scotland and Wales and my aunt has some Irish, Scottish and Welsh DNA ancestry. 
  • Virna, my 3rd cousin mentioned above, has traced our maternal line right back to our common ancestors Johanna (1786-1848) and Benjamin Bekker (1775-1862) enslaved by Paul Andries Van Der Byl on Spier Farm in Stellenbosch. They were most likely inherited from his father who had them in slave records dated 26 August 1816. Paulus Daniel Becker, the son of Johanna and Benjamin, married Louisa (1813-1896) and they had four children including Johanna / Hanna Jakoba Bekker (1832-1919) who married our 3rd great grandfather Christian Johannes Heugh on 29 January 1850, in Stellenbosch. Their son Paulus Augustinus Heugh (1856-1934) is our common great great-grandfather. A DNA comparison on GEDMatch confirmed the familial relationship to Virna. 
  • My grandfather’s father was a Japanese merchant sea man and the supposed source of our almond shaped eyes.
  • The Arendse family moved to the Gleemor area of Athlone from Malmesbury long before my grandparents were married. A google search of the family name Arendse reveals that it originates from Bavaria, Germany.
  • After marriage my grandparents eventually settled in Harfield village (Gleemor was too damp for my grandmother), where they lived for most of their marriage until the Group Areas Act came into force and the family was relocated to Grassy Park.

My Aunts’s DNA Ethnicity Estimates

Both my surviving aunts were generous enough to allow me to take cheek swabs from them for a DNA ethnicity estimate. My own parents have passed and it was the only way to get a broader idea of our DNA ethnicity.

I realised that their test results were already available when I received a notification of DNA matches for both of them. I expected to see German ancestry on both sides; Malay ancestry on the paternal side and Japanese ancestry on the maternal side.

Their results were unexpected:

  • There is no German DNA ethnicity to be found in either of the ethnicity estimates.
  • There is no Japanese DNA ethnicity to be found in the maternal side.
  • South Asian DNA ethnicity features in both maternal and paternal ethnicity estimates.
  • Filipino / Malay / Indonesian DNA ethnicity features in both maternal and paternal ethnicity estimates, being higher on the maternal side (just look at Papi Heugh’s eyes).
  • Scandinavian ethnicity is prevalent on the paternal side with 27.3% Scandinavian (Norway / Sweden / Denmark) and 4.2% Finnish ancestry estimated. There is also 5.3% Baltic ancestry estimate on my maternal side.
  • Central and West African ethnicity features on both sides.
  • Various Southern European ethnicities make up the difference.

My DNA Ethnicity Estimate

One day, shortly after I moved to Dubai one of my colleagues asked me where in India I am from. I smiled and said ‘I’m South African, born and bred’. He asked ‘but where are your parents from?’. I said ‘They were born and bred in Cape Town too, and as far as I know we don’t have a drop of Indian blood’. Little did I know how wrong I was!

Growing up I often heard the term ‘Afrikaner’, ‘Hotnot’ (abbreviation of Hottentot) or ‘Boesman’ (Bushman). These offensive terms were used by persons of recent immigrant Indian descent (first or second generation) to refer to members of the Cape Malay and Coloured communities. We were often considered lower class by the second generation Indian immigrants in Cape Town, and if any of their children deigned to marry a Cape Malay girl or boy it was usually a scandal of epic proportions. So how surprised was I to see that both my aunts have a very heavy dose of South Asian ancestry, one estimated at 33.8% and the other at 26.5%.

My own DNA Ethnicity Estimate in summary:

  • Asia – 49%
  • Europe – 33.1%
  • Africa – 17.9%

I have been trying to understand our DNA Ethnicity Estimates but without any further documentary evidence of births and marriages it is practically impossible to trace back either my maternal or paternal lines. The DNA Explained website is useful to understand the concept of calculating ethnicity percentages. It also reveals how differently the results can be interpreted by the various testing companies.

DNA Ethnicity Estimate

Who am I??

There are a few things that stand out to me after reviewing our results and I have given my thumbsucked interpretation and thoughts, after reading as much as I could about it online. Bear in mind that it should be taken with more than a grain or two of salt as there is very little documentary evidence to support my conclusions.

  • My paternal grandfather may have been descendant from Germans but according to these results his true ancient ethnicity was Scandinavian. Many of the DNA matches for my paternal aunt and myself on the website, including the Germans, seem to have the Scandinavian DNA in common. Scandinavia does seem heavily represented in the DNA of South African users of the site. Does this mean that the Vikings lived on in the raped and pillaged villagers and their descendants long after they disappeared?
  • My Coloured Christian maternal grandparents possibly had more South Asian and Filipino / Malay / Indonesian DNA ethnicity than my Muslim Cape Malay grandparent. I see the evidence of this every day when I look in the mirror and now realise that it was not Japanese but much more likely to be Malay / Indonesian slave ancestry. Looking at photos of my mother’s sisters I can see it in them too, especially Aunty Betty and Aunty Iris who in the wedding photo on the left below reminds me of the photos I’ve seen of aristocratic Malay women.
  • Many of the older generations would question the idea that they had any African DNA. I suspect that over the generations we developed an unconscious racial bias and the ingrained notion that being African somehow made one inferior, would rear it’s head. In the old days of the Group Areas Act, being the same as the darker skinned citizens whom the colonisers and apartheid era governments referred to by the offensive racial slur, ‘Kaffirs’, could result in the loss of home and income. Today many would be surprised to know quite how much African DNA is present in the Colored and Cape Malay communities.
  • We come in many shades of brown yet even today many in our community proclaim our white European ancestry while failing to acknowledge and embrace our black African ancestry.

I am a Cape Malay woman with all the historical, cultural and social baggage that comes with it. I am the original mixed breed with a little bit of South Asian, a little bit of Malay / Indonesian, a little bit of European and a little bit of African. Our ancestry is as diverse as our Cape Malay cuisine, the original fusion cuisine that has a little bit of South Asian, a little bit of Malay / Indonesian, a little bit of European and a little bit of African.

Cape Malay DNA Ethnicity Estimate pin

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  • Reply
    Ntuthuko Zwane
    July 7, 2023 at 7:09 pm

    I am a Zulu from KwaZulu-Natal. Here is the thing that a lot of Cape Malays don’t know: Malaysia have blacks living there. When the British came the Sulus of Asia were actually black and the same as the Zulus of Africa. Your 17,5% (more than 1 in 8) of black ancestry means that at least 1 of your great great grandparents must have been 100% black and that the Malay and mixed ancestry came more recently or later generations were mostly the more prevalent heritage. This matches South African history as waves after waves of blacks were either arrested or brought as war refugees to become cheap or slave labour in Cape Town. The Zulus came from West and Central Africa.

    You see people don’t understand that the 2nd world War changed a lot of how people live. Blacks crossed the Atlantic using canoes and as far as Fiji (which we call Vezi/Mpedzi or Mbezi of Zambezi or Fisi = Hyena) where they have an origin story that 5 generations ago they sailed by Canoes to the South Pacific from Tanzania. Indonesians always lived amongst Zulus since the Zulus left India. In the 4th Century, before Islam, Bantu and Habesha left Yemen, Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya and went to India as Noblemen, traders and Craftsmen. When they got there they became kings and rulers. When Islam came out strong from 600AD to 1200AD, they (the blacks who were called themselves Chola (Jola/Majola or Diola) or Chalukya or Souazhi/Swazi) Indians started moving to China and Southeast Asia. They called themselves the Vijayanagar Indians or Tau Sug or Menang Gabao or Sulu. These are the names of Sotho and Zulu speaking Zulu tribes in Africa. They also called themselves Sulu Kings which is where the name Sulu comes from in the Phillipines. The Spanish also came to the Phillipines and found blacks that they conquered and spread to Spanish former colonies in the America’s and Asia, who they called Moros/Moro. These Moro are called Meroe or Moroe or Moloi or Moyo in Southern and Central Africa and are where the word CaMEROEn comes from = Place of the Meroe/Moroe people. Meroe is the Kingdom in Ethiopia that these black tribes came from. This is why by the way the Xhosa greeting is Molo – they were called amaMolo. So, it is a praise name and libation as qe Bantu greet with libations and praise names l, a quick and sure fire way of getting anything you ask for from a black person. In the 1400s, waves of Chinese trade and immigration took place in places like Jolo, Phillipines and the racial profile started getting mixed = indian + black + Chinese and produced the darker skinned Asians of Southeast Asia and Thailand/Siam and surrounding countries. Im the Phillipines, the word Jolo means happiness or party- we use it the same in Bantu and as Jol in Afrikaans. I saw kids in Thailand darker than me and I am a donker sleutel, not dark but not yellow bone unless I hibernate for 3 weeks. The fact of the matter is the slaves being brought here were one thing but there were also noble men and Royals who came down here. I have pictures of Sulu Sultans from the Phillipines to Malaysia to Indonesia and they are black with mixed race (some looking more Indian and some looking full black and some looking Malay) servants. You must understand that after the end of slavery many of the slaves and even noble men and Royals and traders filed out of Cape Town into the Eastern Cape and KZN and started the Zulu wars and kingdoms. That is why you have so many light skinned Zulus. In Southern Africa, the lightest blacks are Tswana (who themselves come from Zulus) who are heavily mixed with escaping former slaves from Cape Town, Xhosas and Zulus. Any other black tribes are dark as a bats sight. Some made it as far as Kokstad and developed lasting links to the Zulu Kingdoms and intermarried with them and live as Zulus or coloureds. I estimate that about 20% of Blacks who live as Bantus are mixed race in South Africa.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      July 10, 2023 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks for your detailed response. It sheds light on many unanswered questions!

  • Reply
    Godfrey fortuin
    March 22, 2023 at 3:17 pm

    Hi Razena,my name is Godfrey fortuin I am 73 years of age .My father Andrew Fortuin was the grandson of Paulus augustinus Heugh.My grandmother was Paulus augustinus Heugh s youngest daughter Louisa Heugh.She married Ephraim Fortuin from Skool strata in the Onder paarl Fortuin was also descended from freed slaves.Lookat Paarl publicity site.Oupa Paulus lived with my grandmother’louisa until he passed.He use to farm at where today is Cape town airport.He married a lady from Saron her maiden surname was Patience.I hope this help you.

  • Reply
    Carl Heugh
    June 6, 2022 at 7:02 am

    Hi there.
    Thanks for this Website and beautifully written articles and like you, I Love Food!

    I don’t know if I’m barking up the wrong tree but if I don’t ask then I’ll never know.

    My nephew and I have been on this quest to find out about our ancestors for the last couple of months but frankly the more we research the more confusing it becomes. Apparently there’s a German connection, then Wales and then Scottish. I’m so confused.

    It was by pure chance that I came across your article about your ancestors , and you mentioned the surname Heugh
    and I wondered if you could help.

    But first allow me to introduce myself . My name is Carl Heugh. Son of Raymond Heugh and Hilda. Growing up my dad never spoke much about family. All I remember as young kid visiting a family member in Sybrand Park (I think. I could be very wrong about location because i was about 10) where they slaughtered a sheep. in my lifetime I can only recall visiting his family on 3 occasions. The other occasion was in Grassy Park visiting an uncle Michael and then there was a wedding in Ryalnds by the Mosque. I was so young but I still remember the food and thinking to myself . These people know how to celebrate. Why don’t I see them more often.

    For some reason . Now I would like to find out more and reunite with long lost family .

    I do recall my dad mentioning growing up in Hartfield village with his mom Johanna Mary Robertson (MAIDEN surname is Heugh ).

    I could trace my Grandmother DOB the 2.2 1925 but couldn’t trace her father Christian Heugh records. There’s so many. I didn’t know which one was her father.

    Anyway, Let’s leave it there for now. instead of me going off with information that has no affiliation with you.

    If you perhaps have any information that could help me that would greatly appreciated.


    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      June 22, 2022 at 5:56 pm

      Hi Carl

      I only saw your message today and when I reached the end I had goosebumps and tears in my eyes.

      According to my Aunty Doreen, my grandmother and her siblings lost touch with each other when my mom was still young. I recall my mom mentioning my grandmother’s sister Hanni when we were on a road trip during my childhood. My mom had vague memory of Aunty Hanni who they never saw again after she married and moved to Bothasig.

      When I checked the family tree that our cousin Virna traced back 6 generations, my great-grandfather Christian Johannes Heugh had a sister by the name of Johanna, and then also named his own daughters Elizabeth and Johanna. Your grandmother and my grandmother were most likely those daughters.

      My mother, and by extension me, had often wondered over the years about Aunty Hanni and her family.

      • Reply
        Alessandra Mammone
        January 14, 2024 at 9:59 pm

        Hi Carl and Razena
        Apologies for the fact that I’m nearly two years late for the party, but I’ve only just seen this article, whilst googling the Heughs as another shot at my brick walls in the Heugh genealogy. We are definitely related in some way. My 4 x GGF was Christian John Heugh (1853-1901) married to Johanna Jacoba Becker (Bekker) (1832-1919). My 3 x GGF was William Daniel Heugh (1879-1960) married to Christina Maria Adams (1879-1967). I have only recently worked out the connection to my 4 x GGF, through my 3rd cousin Taygen as there is over 20 years difference between her 4 x GGF Paulus Augustinus Heugh and William Daniel, who were brothers. Hope you’re still with me?
        Anyway my Grandmother was Sarah Phillipina Heugh (Roberts), and my Mother was Joyce Roberts (Mammone). I haven’t been in direct contact with Virna, but have contacted her through Taygen. Would love to have a chat and see how we all connect. I realise this was 2 years ago, so you may have more info now, but happy to share any info that I have. I’m in the UK by the way.
        P.S: Razena, I’ve joined your member’s club, so you should have my email address, but please let me know if you don’t. Alessandra Mammone

        • Reply
          Razena Schroeder
          January 23, 2024 at 12:07 pm

          Hi Alessandra

          It’s always lovely to find new cousins. It appears that your GGF Christian Johannes Heugh (1853-1901) was the elder brother to my 2XGGF Paulus Augustinus Heugh (1856-1934). From the family tree that Virna has compiled it seems that Johanna Jacoba Becker (Bekker) (1832-1919) was the afore-mentioned Christian’s mother, not his spouse. Christian’s father was also named Christian Johannes Heugh (1825-1904). I will email some of the background family info that Virna compiled.

          Take care,


    • Reply
      Godfrey fortuin
      March 23, 2023 at 11:07 pm

      Hi Carl I am also a descendant of Paulus augustinus Heugh.My father Andrew Fortuin was the grandson of Paulus augustinus Heugh.My dad D.O B was 1922,Oupa Paulus lived with my dad’s father Ephraim Fortuin and his mother Louisa Heugh Fortuin in Eureka estate Elsies River.There were siblings of my grandmother living in thevacinity .My grandmother’s brother oom Giel Heugh auntieRachel Rallie grandmother’s sister.The Heugh actually came from Saron.Oupa Paulus married a lady whose maiden surname was Patience..There are still very successful Sheep farmers in Saron with surname Patience.Iam presently living in Port Elizabeth .I do not know if you have ever been here but there is big road at our airport which is named Heugh Road.I am still investigating this Roads history. I hope you find this chat informative

      • Reply
        Alessandra Mammone
        January 14, 2024 at 10:07 pm

        Hi Godfrey, we are also related then as Paulus was my 3 x Great Uncle, as per my post above. It’s a small small world. Have you done your DNA yet?

  • Reply
    Paul Johnson
    December 5, 2021 at 4:01 am

    Hello Razena,
    I enjoyed reading what you have included on your website. I have recently done two DNA tests, *MyHeritage” and “AncestryDNA”. Hmmm .. 18 ethnic groups in my DNA. From the UK to Africa to south east Asia. I was born in Cape Town but left the country about 22 years ago but will always consider Cape Town to be my home.

  • Reply
    Faruq Kilau Kelanasura
    June 5, 2021 at 7:30 am

    Assalamualaikum. Malaysian Malay here. That was a fascinating read, Razena! It amazes me that you still possess documents from the 40s. All I have left of my eight great-grandparents who more or less lived during the time is one portrait photo of my paternal grandfather’s father and a general idea of where four of their graves are. If I may provide my input: Akiemdien sounds somewhat like Hakimuddin. The Malays and other Malay-speaking ethnic groups of yesteryears tended to drop initial h sounds (e.g. hutan [jungle] was pronounced utan; orang hutan [the primate] was pronounced orang utan). Even today, people named Hakim are called Akim/Kim. I don’t know what you can do with that bit of information, though. Anyhow, if you need any help or if you have any questions, feel free to drop me an e-mail. Warm wishes from KL.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      June 5, 2021 at 8:10 am

      Wa alaykum salaam. We didn’t have those death certificates until recently, and only came about them after my brother did an internet search. They were in the archives of some American organization. I don’t know how or why but I’m grateful to even have that. We have very photos of my grandparents. One portrait of my paternal grandfather and another photo of him with some of my uncles and aunts before my dad was born. Of my maternal grandparents there are a few wedding photos taken at one of my aunts weddings. Thanks for the info about the surname. You have been very helpful!

  • Reply
    Ivan Lötter
    December 26, 2020 at 1:29 am

    Hi Razena,

    Did you manage to find more of your ancestors?

    I have noticed Schroeders in Simons Town that married mulder, the daughter of Clara Engel.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      December 26, 2020 at 2:09 am

      Hi Ivan. I have one aunt remaining and I hope to see her while I am in Cape Town to see if she remembers anything more. Her daughter has said we may be able to trace my grandfathers ancestry if we can find his army records in the archives here in Cape Town.

  • Reply
    November 23, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Hi Razena
    Great read!!
    True story… Growing up our family was moved to District 6. Although our ethnicity was stated as “white”, many considered us mixed race due to looks. My great-grandfather came from UK in 1878 on dad’s side. My grandmother was French Huegenot descent (Roux/Le Roux/ Blignaut).
    I grew up mostly amongst Malay kids and got in trouble daily for running away from home to go eat at neighbours’ homes. It became a family “joke” that I was more Malay than most Malays. Since I was born in the Cape, they also daid I was exchanged in hospital. I have always been “different” from other family members and reverted to Islam 10 years ago. I love Malay food!!
    Last year I had my DNA done through Heritage and got a pleasant surprise… 27% South Asian and 14% Malay.
    So I guess they were partly right, after all. I’m now on the same journey as you… Trying to trace back my origins. I think my answers may lie in the French Huguenot line….

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      December 2, 2019 at 12:34 pm

      You made me laugh so hard. I think we are all a bit of this and that even though we may identify as something else. Unfortunately, the anecdotal evidence of our origins have proved to be mostly inaccurate so I don’t even know where to start to find our family ancestry.

      My father spent some of his childhood and teens in District Six before they were relocated to Harfield Village. Even there everyone took care of each other and children were welcome in any neighbor’s home at meal times.

    • Reply
      Abdia Arendse Waggie
      April 8, 2021 at 9:49 am

      Aslm Razeena going thru your post I noticed you also have Arendse family I am busy doing my family tree and would love to find out where Arendse originated from my Grandfather stayed in District six name was Adam Arendse

      • Reply
        Razena Schroeder
        April 8, 2021 at 9:52 am

        Wa alaykum salaam Abdia. My grandfather’s family were from Malmesbury area as far as I am aware. They moved to Gleemoor in Athlone at some point and that was where my grandparents lived after they were married. Apparently my grandmother couldn’t deal with the misty mornings and evenings and they moved to Harfield Village before my mother was born.

    • Reply
      April 21, 2024 at 9:49 pm

      Hi Sana, I love your story. I was shocked with the second generation of SA Indian who discriminate SA Malay. It’s funny since Malays and Southeast Asians used to look down on Indian and the rest of South Asians.

  • Reply
    Dalene Ekirapa
    March 1, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    You have such mixed raceas and that’s so fascinating! I’ve never had to take a DNA before though…although it’s so nice when you can trace back your roots.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      March 1, 2019 at 12:55 pm

      It was even more mixed than I had anticipated but explains so much. Next I would love to find out the exact geographical origin of my ancestors.

      • Reply
        August 2, 2019 at 4:48 pm

        Hi I too did a dna test with myheritage.
        You should upload your raw data to gedmatch for a further breakdown, Gedmatch is free and very informative.
        p.s Im cape muslim too

      • Reply
        Colin Saville
        November 22, 2019 at 4:57 am

        Razena, I enjoyed reading your family history. If you ever do upload your DNA raw file to GEDMATCH, I would love to compare to my DNA ( GEDMATCH assigns a ‘kit number’ to your DNA …my kit number is MK6399189. My earliest family arrival in the Cape was in October 1657, when ‘Groote Catrijn’ became the first female convict. She was born in Pulicat, which is just north of modern-day Chennai India. She was a slave to a Dutch woman in what is now Jakarta, Indonesia. Initially she was sentenced to death for killing man that raped her, but on review sentence commuted to life imprisonment and sent to Cape, where she had washerwoman duties to commander of the Fort. A German soldier employed by VOC (Dutch East India Company) fathered a son Christoffel Snijman with Catrijn / Catharina. Catrijn was eventually pardoned. Christoffel had nine children. I am descended from his daughter Elsje. We too have Arendse in our tree. Regards, Colin

        • Reply
          Razena Schroeder
          November 22, 2019 at 7:04 am

          My mind is blown that you were able to trace your lineage that far back! How did you go about it because I would love to do the same.

  • Reply
    Geraline Batarra
    February 27, 2019 at 9:08 am

    I really love doing this. The only difference is that, my mom didn’t have much photos to keep, usually they keep by themselves that’s why. Thanks to Facebook, memories of old ancestors is much easier to access for thenext generations.

  • Reply
    February 27, 2019 at 7:10 am

    I’ve never heard about DNA Ethnicity test. This is such a great information now I have an idea what is all about thanks for sharing

  • Reply
    February 27, 2019 at 2:36 am

    I really like the idea of doing this, I have a massive Ancestry tree which I like to keep updated but I really want to see where I am actually from!

  • Reply
    melissa major
    February 27, 2019 at 12:39 am

    such an interesting read! my mum recently did this too and it’s great to see our family ancestry! very interesting post

  • Reply
    February 26, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    This is such an interesting post. I am always interested in reading more about DNA and finding out more information.

  • Reply
    Claire Justine
    February 26, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    This is an interesting read. I had never thought of finding out things like this. So many great ways to find things out, now days.

  • Reply
    February 26, 2019 at 6:19 am

    I have been reading a lot more about ancestry nowadays and seems like more people are checking into this with all the available tools out there. 23andme is definitely one becoming more popular here in the US now..
    It must have been such a wonderful journey of discovery for you .. loved going through that journey through your post

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      February 26, 2019 at 11:23 am

      The remarkable advances in DNA testing over the past 20 years have really helped many immigrant communities resolve their ancestry questions. My discoveries were unexpected and I hope that with the assistance of my relatives we can explore our historical identities further.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2019 at 8:56 pm

    It was an interesting read, was Great to know on your ethnicity and diversity. You had put in a lot of effort to come to a conclusion.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      February 26, 2019 at 11:21 am

      Regrettably we don’t have more documentary evidence at this time to substantiate or disprove the DNA estimates provided by the testing company.

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