First Muslim doctors in South Africa were of Ottoman descent


According to a recent study; South Africa’s first Muslim doctor was Muhammed Şükrü Efendi, the grandson of religious scholar Ebubekir Efendi who was sent by Sultan Abdülaziz Han in 1862 to the Cape of Good Hope.

In the study, conducted by an expert in Ottoman-Africa relations Halim Gençoğlu, among his research were photographs including one of Şükrü Efendi’s registration form to Cape Town University from 1935.


Şükrü Efendi earned his degree in medicine shortly thereafter in 1942, making him the first Muslim doctor in South Africa.

Dr. Şükrü Efendi (second from right) Father, Ömer Celaleddin Efendi (middle), brother Şakir Efendi (second from left)


Ebubekir Efendi’s granddaughter Havva Hayrunnisa also became the first Muslim woman doctor in the country after she received her medical degree in London.

She returned to South Africa in 1929 making her the first woman Muslim doctor in South Africa.


Ebubekir Efendi’s family has been living in South Africa for five generations now. This is a picture of Muhammed Şükrü Efendi’s final resting place.



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