Charly’s Bakery

Cape Town – South Africa

District Six

District Six is the name of a former inner-city residential area in Cape Town and is best known for the forced removal of over 60,000 of its inhabitants to townships during the 1970s by the apartheid regime. The inhabitants included a substantial number of colored Muslims, called Cape Malays, and also black Xhosa residents, whites, and Indians. Concerning culture the district was famous for the South African jazz but there have also been written novels, songs, poems, theatre productions and musicals about the district. On 11 February 1966, the government declared District Six a whites-only area under the Group Areas Act, with removals starting in 1968. The old buildings were bulldozed except places of worship including a Jewish religious bookstore. In 1994 the District Six Museum ( was established and serves as a remembrance to the events of the apartheid era as well as the culture and history of the area before the removals.

Charly’s Bakery

I was strolling around in District Six when I noticed a colorful building which was before the Jewish religious bookstore, but is now Charly’s Bakery ( What was inside was even more colorful so I wanted to make a video about it for my web. Jacqueline Penkin Biess, co-owner, gave me permission to take video inside the bakery and interview her.

The bakery is a 20 year old family run business and their style of cakes is fresh, modern and beautiful with decors and luminous colours. Their most popular cakes are the “Wicket chocolate cakes”, which are made as weddings, birthdays, and anniversary cakes, but mostly as chocolate cup cakes.

The bakery is named after Charly, who is Jacqueline’s husband, and was trained as a konditor meister in Germany. Their three daughters also work in the bakery. It is called the “The Rainbow Bakery” because the staff is of many nations and religions, e.g. Xhosa, Tswana, Sotho, Portuguese, Angolan, Congolese, Jews, Germans and Christians.

The bakery is very famous and there has been written articles about it in many magazines both in South Africa and other countries. In a Norwegian magazine there is an article about a couple in Norway who moved their wedding to South Africa to be able to have a Charly’s wedding cake.

Some of those the bakery has baked for are:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu – He was born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, South Africa. He was first a high school teacher and then he studied theology and was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1960. Later he studied at King’s College in London, United Kingdom, where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Theology. He is an honorary doctor of a number of leading universities in many countries. He became world famous during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. His objective was “a democratic and just society without racial divisions”. He is generally credited with coining the term “Rainbow Nation” which has entered mainstream consciousness to describe South Africa’s ethnic diversity. After the fall of apartheid, he headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and assisted in the establishing of the Solomon Islands’ Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He retired as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996 and was made emeritus Archbishop of Cape Town. Since his retirement, he has worked as a global activist on issues concerning democracy, freedom and human rights. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986, the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2005 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Barack Obama in 2009. He has written several books and articles.

When I was a security sector coordinator at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA, I met him and greeted him in the American way: “How are you doing?” He said he was “old and tired”. He did not look tired to me and when I saw him again in 2010 he stilled seemed to be full of energy.

The bakery made the 75th birthday cake for him. On the cake words were chosen which symbolize him for the one tier; Love, Truth and Peace. And then the next tier had the Rainbow for the famous “Rainbow Nation” and “South Africa”, and then the top tier had an Africa with a little gold cross in the place of South Africa, and the big gold 75 on top. The owners of the bakery were invited to his birthday party and when the cake was brought in the Charly’s Bakery song: “Somewhere over the Rainbow”, by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was played.

Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki  – He was born in 1942 in Idutywa (Transkei), South Africa. He studied at University of Sussex, United Kingdom, where he received his BA degree in economics and Master’s degree in African studies. He has received many honorary doctorate degrees from South African and foreign universities, and also other honors and awards. He received military training in the Soviet Union. He is a member of the African National Congress and was its president. He became deputy president of South Africa and served almost two terms as the second post-apartheid President of South Africa from 14 June 1999 to 24 September 2008, when he resigned.

The bakery made the 65th birthday cake for him.

Oprah Gail Winfrey –  She was born in 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi, USA. She received her B.A. in Speech and Drama from Tennessee State University.

She is television host, actress, producer, and philanthropist, best known for her self-titled, multi-award winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history. She has been ranked the richest African American of the 20th century and beyond, the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and was once the world’s only black billionaire.

In 1998, she began Oprah’s Angel Network, a charity aimed at encouraging people around the world to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged others. She established the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, which was opened in 2007. It’s a free, residential school which will eventually be home to approximately 450 academically talented girls, who demonstrate leadership qualities and come from a disadvantaged family or community, in grades 7 through 12. It’s her dream to see the Academy develop the future women leaders of South Africa and she thinks that beautiful surroundings will inspire greatness in them.

A scientific study by psychological scientists at the University of Cambridge, University of Plymouth, and University of California discovered that simply watching an uplifting clip on the Oprah Winfrey show caused subjects in their experiment to become twice as helpful as subjects assigned to watch a British comedy or nature documentary.

The bakery catered her high tea party.

The Big Issue –  It’s a weekly street magazine published in United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia, Japan, South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Malawi, Taiwan and Korea. The articles are written by professional journalists and sold by homeless individuals. It was founded by John Bird and Gordon Roddick in September 1991. John Bird has said that it is “possible to be both profitable and ethically correct”.

The Big Issue was shortlisted for United Nations ‘Best Practice’ Award in 1996 and presented with the Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2008. John Bird was awarded the MBE for ‘services to homeless people’ by Queen Elizabeth II in 1995, BBC London’s Living Legend in 2004 and winner of United Nations Habitat Scroll of Honour Award the same year.

The bakery has social programs and the first group it adopted was the Big Issue by supplying them with cakes for their weekly vendor meetings. They also gave them their 10th Birthda

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