Moravians in the Eastern Cape, 1828-1928: Four Accounts of Moravian Mission Work on the Eastern Cape Frontier – Timothy J Keegan


Condition : Very Good.
Second series, No.35, Van Riebeeck Society for the Publication of South African Historical Documents, 2004, Hardback with removable protective plastic wrap – Africana – 308pp.

Moravians in the Eastern Cape, 1828-1928: Four Accounts of Moravian Mission Work on the Eastern Cape Frontier — Timothy J. Keegan [Editor]

The four missionary texts which make up this volume reveal the little-known range of Moravian mission work in the Eastern Cape, from its inception in 1828 to 1928.
Vivid and subjective in character, they illuminate this lesser-known field of Moravian mission activity in South Africa, which extended to the Xhosa the pioneering work done at Genadendal and its family of stations in the Eastern Cape.

The narratives paint a graphic picture of the commitment of the missionaries and their families, the successes and failures of their evangelical mission work and provide rare insights into the thinking and conduct of those who converted to Christianity.

The Moravian Church is one of the oldest protestant denominations in the world and the name comes from the original exiles who fled to Saxony (in today’s Germany) in 1722 from Moravia (in today’s Czech Republic). The Moravians were pioneers of the widespread wave of Protestant evangelicalism from the eighteenth century and sent missionaries to countries all over the world, including the Cape of Good Hope. In 1737 they sent a young man named Georg Schmidt to the Cape. Thus, the Moravians were the first missionaries amongst the indigenous people of South Africa.

When Schmidt arrived at the Cape, he found Khoi families scattered around Baviaanskloof (later called Genadendal) in the Overberg region, and gathered them to start his work.. However, when he baptised five Khoi in 1743 the Dutch Settlers and their church were so outraged resulting in his deportation from the Cape.

In 1792, nearly fifty years later, the Moravians received permission to continue with mission work in South Africa and to establish good relations with the authorities. The London Missionary Society (LMS) was also active in South Africa, but in contrast to the Moravians, their ethos was highly political. The Moravians, given their sensitive position as aliens in a British Colony, were not inclined to pronounce on the politics of colonisation. During the tumultuous period on the eastern frontier from 1809, the LMS work amongst the Xhosa was disbanded by the authorities and all mission work in the Colony was entrusted to the trustworthy Moravians. Xhosa-speakers from Boer farms, who spoke Dutch, started to arrive at Genadendal and the Moravians started considering the expantion of their mission activities to the east.

Before his departure from the Cape in 1826, Lord Charles Somerset suggested to the Moravians that they should expand beyond the frontier. Consequently their first mission station, called Shiloh, was established in 1828 between the Klipplaat and Oxkraal Rivers in the vicinity of today’s Sada and Whittlesea. Shiloh developed into a neat and well laid-out village on the banks of the river with a water conduit of about 5 km in length, well-cultivated fields yielding harvests of vegetables, fruit and tobacco and a population of about 800 people by 1868. On one of his visits Governor sir Harry Smith commented “I wish I had ten such stations along the border; this would be a better protection than all our military posts’ ‘.

This volume contains four accounts of Moravian mission work on the Eastern Cape frontier. They are:
A Century of Moravian Mission Work in the Eastern Cape Colony and Transkei, 1828-1928 by Ernst van Calker.
Heinrich Meyer – A Stalwart of the Mission Field by Paul Moths.
Seeking Refuge by Hermann Gustav Schneider
Life in Africa 50 Years Ago by Meta Spear

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