Saturday, April 20
Those two words evoke so many memories. Some sad, but mostly happy memories of young boys on a farm with tall blue skies, leafy green Msasa trees, mielie fields, panting dogs with long dripping tongues.
Gordon Shaw, my Grandpa, was in the sunset of his life when we were very young boys. Grandpa had been a farmer all his life. Once he was described as not being a very progressive farmer. Stains Farm in the 1960’s was caught in a time warp somewhere in the 1930’s or even earlier. Trek oxen were still in employment. The fields were ploughed using ox drawn ploughs. The ripened crop was brought in on a 16 span trek wagon. Exactly the same wagons used by the early pioneers. I recall metal licences nailed to the wagon which had been issued in the 1920’s.
The homestead comprised of pole and daga buildings with thatched roofs. The main building was rectangular in shape comprising of a dining room, bathroom, pantry and kitchen. A later addition was a front stoep which was brick with a corrugated iron roof. A Welcome-Dover wood stove in the kitchen was kept going all day fuelled by Msasa wood. A coffee pot with Breakfast Coffee bubbled away on the stove.
The bedrooms were separate pole and daga rondavels built in a semicircle to the front of the main building. Water was provided by a well straddled by a windmill. Both the wind and the water table were not constant. Water from the well was strictly reserved for drinking / food and bathing. Water for the garden was carted from the Vungu river, some 3 kilometers away, by a scotch cart. Four 44 gallon drums were loaded on the cart which was despatched daily to collect water from the river. The cart was pulled by four donkeys, one of which was named “Jack”.
Bathing water was heated by a “Rhodesian” boiler. A Rhodesian bolier was an ingenious contraption of plumbing and brickwork centered around a 44 gallon drum. The boiler is heated by a wood fire. It has an inlet supply of water, a venting pipe and an outlet pipe to the bathroom.
The toilet was a long drop comprising of a corrugated iron “hunderbox” perched over a 5m pit situated about 100 m from the main farmhouse. Toilet paper was in the form of old Chronicle newspapers and UK Daily Mail newspapers. The toilet was inhabited by hundreds of flies and some of the most humungous daddy long leg spiders I have ever seen. Needless to say, the toilet was avoided at night at all costs. It was a long lonely walk with a flickering hurricane light. The night sounds were eerie. Owls hooting, the churring call of a Nightjar and Jackalls howling … very spooky!
The nearest thing to electricity on the farm were the batteries that powered the flashlight’s. Night lighting was supplied by Tilley pressure paraffin lights. Lights out was no later than 21h00. After blights out we would light candles to read with. The refrigerator was powered by paraffin and lived in the bathroom. It was tiny and only had sufficient space for a weeks supply of meat, butter and milk. No such luxury as a cold coke or ice for your drink. The pantry had an old style food safe. Cooked salted beef was always resident in the safe.
Granny raised chickens to supply eggs to the city. Every Friday the vannette (they were not called bakkies in those days) was loaded with crates of eggs and Gran and Driver would head off to Gwelo some 16 miles distant on a corrugated sandy road. Several cases off eggs were delivered to the Rhodesia Railways parcels office for despatch to The Market Master, Bulawayo. After delivering the eggs to the railways and the cream to DMB (Dairy Marketing Board) Gran would head off to the suburb of Lundi Park where she spent the morning with Driver delivering eggs to the mainly Italian community who lived in that area. In the summer months the egg sales would be supplemented by sales of prickly pears. Granny also manufactured Barbie type dolls with clothing made from foam rubber and sold these to the Italian ladies to adorn their Dolly Vaarden's.
The afternoon was spent stocking up with groceries at E Peledis stores, mealie meal at Midlands Milling Co . In the early days Grandpa would be collected from The Midlands Hotel where he had spent the day having a few pints with his cronies. And then back to the farm.
Grandpa Gordon Shaw’s first wife, my Grandmother Shaw passed away from a stroke in 1957. After hear death Grandpa did not look after himself properly. I recall arriving at Staines in the early 60’s when Daddy was stationed with Veterinary Services in Enkeldoorn. The main farmhouse was rampant with rats, Clearly law and order was needed. My maternal Grandmother Jooste lived in Middleburg, Transvaal. She was a widow. I am sure wil collusion from my parents she visited my Grandfathers farm and then started corresponding with Grandpa. We were not surprised when it was announced that Granny and Grandpa were to be married.
The ceremony was held in ouy garnen in Gwelo and was not well attended other than us kids, Pastor Ogden, Mrs Ogden Aunt June Mum and of course the happy couple. Gran’s arrival at the farm saw order being restored. The biggest spin off of this marriage is that we were allowed to spend school holidays on Staines Farm.
Saturday, January 28
Sunday, September 13
It has also been recorded that Sergeant John Kendrick of the 21st Yorkshire Light Dragoons, a Methodist local preacher, conducted services at the Cape in 1806, and that John Middlemiss was the first Methodist leader. He told in a letter dated 16 September 1807 how, in 1806, he and a few other Christians… ‘tried to trace the Methodists or any that were striving to work out their own salvation among the regiments at the Cape. About forty-two Christians were traced – a few of these were ‘sincere Methodists’.
These early meetings and services were held in adapted buildings: a hayloft above the stable in Plein Street and a disused wine store in Barrack Street. In 1822 a church a mission house was erected (also in Barrack Street) at a cost of £600. Dr. John Phillip conducted the official opening and the building served as both a school and a church.
A key figure in the church in Cape Town at this time was the Rev. Barnabas Shaw who arrived in Cape Town in 1816. Together with the Rev. E. Edwards and the Rev. T. Hodgson, Shaw played a major role in the growth of the church in Cape Town and this culminated in the erection of the Wesleyan Methodist Church on the corner of Burg and Church Streets in 1829 (Methodist House now stands on this site). A memorial tombstone in memory of Barnabas Shaw, who is regarded as the founder of South African Methodism, can be found on the ground floor beneath the gallery at the back of the existing church.
Thursday, May 15
Friday, April 4
Alan joined the Department of veterinary Services in 1955 and was stationed at Chipinga. His second son, Gordon Bevis was born that year. Alan was then transferred to Enkledoors and the twins Glenn and Colin were born. Youngest son, Grant, was born in 1963. Alan was also stationed at Gwelo and Fort Victoria. His happiest days were when stationed in Victoria Province.
During the Rhodesian Bush War Alan was exposed to danger in the field. As a consequence of his bravery and dedication to duty he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 1979.
Alan retired when stationed at Bulawayo in 1983 where he was Chief Provincial Animal Health Inspector for Matabeleland Province.
He spent ten years on a farm near Heidelburg South Africa before retiring to Kariba in 1993. Ill health forced him to leave Kariba in 1996 and he returned to Bulawayo. In 2004 due to ill health he moved to an old age home in Benoni, South Africa. Alan passed away on 20 August, 2005.
One of the twins, Colin died in a boating accident in 2002. Alan never recovered from this loss.
Eileen sadly passed away less than a year after Alan.
Both Alan and Eileen were victims of Robert Mugabe's hatred towards white people.
Gordon Locke Shaw was born near Bushmans River in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. He moved to Rhodesia with Ambrose Shaw's whole family in the 1920's. Gordon farmed at Bijou and then Staines farm near Gwelo. Gordon had one daughter and four sons. Gordon passed away in October 1968.
Ambrose George Shaw
28 Oct 2003
1. Rev Barnabas SHAW (b.12 Apr 1788-Elloughton,nr Hull,Y,England;d.21 Jun 1857-MS,M,WC,South Africa)
sp: Jane BUTLER (b.1793/1794-Bidlington Quay,Yorkshire,England;m.24 Jul 1815;d.21 Mar 1861-Mowbray,CT,W,South Africa)
2. Infant SHAW (b.23 Mar 1816-High seas;d.1816-High seas)
2. Infant SHAW (b.1816-Lily Fountain,Namaqualand,South Africa;d.1816-Lily Fountain,Namaqualand,South Africa)
2. Infant SHAW (b.2 Jun 1818-Lily Fountain,Namaqualand,South Africa;d.6 Jun 1818-Lily Fountain,Namaqualand,South Africa)
2. Barnabas (John) James SHAW Jnr (b.1 Feb 1820-South Africa;d.Jun 1907)
sp: Barbara WAKINSHAW (b.Abt 1820-Newcastle-on-Tyne,England;m.27 Jul 1843;d.17 Nov 1914)
3. Barnabas John SHAW (b.23 Apr 1844-Wynberg,Cape Town,South Africa;d.8 Dec 1898-Bathurst,EC,South Africa)
sp: Mary Ann DOLD (b.23 Oct 1850;m.21 Oct;d.3 Jun 1948)
4. Barnabas James Dold SHAW (d.1942)
4. Barbara Wakinshaw SHAW (b.Abt 1881;d.30 Oct 1966)
4. Gertrude SHAW (b.Abt 1886;d.29 Aug 1859)
4. Son SHAW
4. Daughter SHAW
3. Susannah Jane SHAW (b.27 Oct 1845)
sp: Frederick Mouncey GILFILLAN (b.13 Jun 1824-,Eastern Cape. South;m.18 Dec 1867;d.5 Jun 1885-P,,South Africa)
4. Ernest GILFILLAN (b.1861;d.30 Jul 1953)
sp: Minnie SMITH (b.17 Nov 1884;d.27 May 1968)
5. Verona GILFILLAN
sp: Gilbert Horace WILMOT
6. Lysle WILMOT
6. Jenny-Lynn WILMOT
5. Sydney Smith GILFILLAN
sp: Beryl HEATHCOTE
5. Florence Pearl GILFILLAN (b.1908)
sp: Walter Henry WEBSTER
6. Yolande Elaine WEBSTER
sp: Thomas Trevor HOOLE
7. Margaret Lynne HOOLE
7. Patricia Mary HOOLE
sp: Julian Oscar Hillston SOUTHEY
8. Jacqueline Patricia SOUTHEY
8. Robert Oscar SOUTHEY
8. Stuart Julian SOUTHEY
7. Trevor Tamplin HOOLE
6. Kevin Michael WEBSTER
6. Desmond Keith WEBSTER
5. Beryl Eda GILFILLAN
sp: Edward George Bramwell SHAW
6. Rosemary Coral SHAW
sp: Peter Henry LIBBY
6. Wendy Edineen SHAW
sp: Pieter Olivier HUGO
6. George Bramwell SHAW
sp: Peta SWEET
5. Minnie Miriam GILFILLAN (b.7 Jul 1918;d.2 Jun 1919)
4. Alfred Edwin GILFILLAN
sp: Muriel Constance Starr BEAUCHAMP
5. Alfred Edwin Shaw GILFILLAN
sp: Elizabeth Marion SPROT
5. Barbara Mary GILFILLAN
sp: Alan Power DE KOCH
5. Cynthia Beauchamp GILFILLAN
5. Muriel Mouncey GILFILLAN
sp: Thomas Burnham KING
sp: Alex Frederick STUAT
4. Florrie GILFILLAN
4. Fred GILFILLAN
Descendants of Rev Barnabas SHAW
28 Oct 2003
3. James Wakinshaw SHAW (b.11 Jun 1847;d.18 Jan 1946)
sp: Lucy ELLIOTT
4. James Wakinshaw SHAW (b.15 Jan 1886;d.14 Jul 1944)
sp: Alice Marie Poulton TIMM (b.22 Dec 1883;m.27 Mar 1912;d.5 Aug 1968-Peddie,Eastern Cape,South Africa)
5. Marjorie Alice SHAW (b.12 Oct 1912-Salem,Eastern Cape,South Africa;d.1993-Port Alfred,EC,South Africa)
sp: Alex Percy LLOYD (b.10 Jul 1906;d.12 Sep 1971-East London,Eastern Cape,South Africa)
6. Bruce Alex LLOYD
6. Ian Alex LLOYD
sp: Elaine BRENT
4. Etta Emmaline SHAW (d.18 Jul 1974)
sp: Owen Percival PIKE
5. Aubrey Jonathan PIKE
5. Gladys PIKE
5. Harold Shaw PIKE
6. Terence PIKE
5. Hope Gwendoline PIKE
5. Eileen Joyce PIKE
5. AG PIKE
6. Basil PIKE
5. HH PIKE
4. Willie SHAW
4. Florence SHAW (b.Abt 1900;d.30 Jun 1968)
sp: Harold James BRADFIELD (b.Abt 1896;d.15 Aug 1966)
5. Allan Clyde BRADFIELD (b.26 May 1929;d.26 Jun 1929)
3. George Henry Bramwell SHAW (b.19 Jan 1851-Salem,Eastern Cape,South Africa)
sp: Engela Anne COPEMAN (d.13 Mar 1890)
sp: Sarah Roberta HOOLE (b.5 Dec 1870-Grahamstown,Eastern Cape,South Africa;m.9 May 1895)
4. Arnold Bramwell SHAW (b.1895;d.Abt 1975-Canada)
sp: Helen TREDGOLD (m.6 Apr 1920)
5. John Arnold SHAW
sp: Patricia Mary FISHER
6. Allan John SHAW
4. Ada SHAW (b.1897-Cape Town,South Africa;d.1979-Cape Town,South Africa)
sp: Rev CAWOOD (m.1917)
sp: Ren WILLIAMS
sp: Rev Samuel Barrett CAWOOD (b.5 Sep 1849-Cradock,Eastern Cape,South Africa)
4. Bessie Bramwell SHAW
4. Hettie Emmaline Bramwell SHAW (b.24 Jan 1907-Colesberg,EC,South Africa;d.28 Nov 1919-AH,G,EC,South Africa)
4. Edward George Bramwell SHAW
sp: Louise GREY (b.24 May 1908-Johannesburg,Gauteng,South Africa;d.21 Aug 1980-J,Gauteng,South Africa)
5. Lenore Cecily SHAW
sp: Beryl Eda GILFILLAN
5. Rosemary Coral SHAW ** Printed on Page 1 **
5. Wendy Edineen SHAW ** Printed on Page 1 **
5. George Bramwell SHAW ** Printed on Page 1 **
sp: Olive MCCULLOUGH (d.25 Dec 1985-Kenton on Sea,Eastern Cape,South Africa)
sp: Elizabeth Madeleine SCHOEMAN
sp: Maisie WRIGHT (d.21 Dec 1990-Kenton on Sea,Eastern Cape,South Africa)
3. John Reay SHAW (b.9 Mar 1853-Salem,Eastern Cape,South Africa;d.1931-Stutterheim,Eastern Cape,South Africa)
sp: Charlotte Louise VAN RYNEVELD (b.1855-Graaff Reinet,Eastern Cape,South Africa;d.1936-S,EC,South Africa)
3. Barbara SHAW (b.28 Nov 1854-Salem,Eastern Cape,South Africa;d.21 Mar 1923)
3. Samuel Charles SHAW (b.7 Sep 1857-Salem,Eastern Cape,South Africa;d.17 Jan 1930-Salem,Eastern Cape,South Africa)
sp: Mildred Amelia ELLIOTT (b.Abt 1863;d.7 Jan 1937-Salem,Eastern Cape,South Africa)
3. Ambrose George Campbell SHAW (b.17 Jul 1860-Salem,Eastern Cape,South Africa;d.Abt 1952)
sp: Mary Ellen LOCKE (b.2 Feb 1866-Maitland,Cape,South Africa;m.6 Apr 1889)
4. Gordon Locke SHAW (b.28 Jan 1888-Gwelo,Zimbabwe)
Descendants of Rev Barnabas SHAW
28 Oct 2003
sp: Gwen FERGUSON
4. Engela Starr SHAW (b.4 Nov 1889)
sp: Cyril HEATHCOTE
4. Emily Locke SHAW (b.3 Aug 1891-Glen Shaw,Alexandria,EC,South Africa;d.29 Oct 1956-The Post,A,EC,South Africa)
sp: Albert Cameron CHOWLES (b.21 Jan 1891-Alexandria,EC,South Africa;m.23 Mar 1918;d.11 Nov 1972-)
4. George Henry Locke SHAW (b.14 Jun 1893)
sp: Violet SMITH
4. Ambrose Drew SHAW (b.25 Mar 1895;d.3 Dec 1967)
4. Edwin Locke SHAW (b.10 Mar 1897;d.5 Jul 1972)
sp: Stella CILLIERS
4. Florence Mary Helen SHAW (b.7 Mar 1899)
sp: Sandy RANKIN
4. Gwendoline Louise SHAW (b.12 May 1902)
sp: Errol ROBERTS
4. Jean Thompson SHAW (b.24 Sep 1904-Glen Shaw,Alexandria,Eastern Cape,South Africa)
sp: Basil DICKS
4. Thora Winifred SHAW
sp: Murray BENNETT
2. Charlotte Elizabeth SHAW (b.26 Jan 1823)
sp: WL BLORE
2. Jane Butler SHAW (b.6 May 1825-Cape Town,Western Cape,South Africa;d.14 Jan 1910-Kensington,London,England)
sp: John AYLIFF (b.19 May 1821-Albany,Eastern Cape,South Africa;d.3 Dec 1878-At sea)
3. John Barnabas AYLIFF (b.19 Oct 1849;d.1849)
3. Wiliam Edward AYLIFF (b.1851)
sp: Miriam RICKETTTS
4. Ethel AYLIFF
sp: Thomas TODD
4. George AYLIFF
4. Fred AYLIFF
4. Douglas AYLIFF
3. Arthur AYLIFF (b.1854;d.1862)
3. George AYLIFF (b.24 Aug 1856;d.Bef 1910)
3. Edith Charlotte AYLIFF (b.2 Jan 1860;d.Bef 1910)
3. Emily Annie AYLIFF
2. Samuel Best SHAW (b.29 Sep 1828-Hull,England;d.24 Jun 1889-Grahamstown,Eastern Cape,South Africa)
sp: Mary Ann BARNES (b.25 Jul 1838;d.13 Jun 1917)
3. Barnie SHAW (d.31 Jan 1939)
3. Anne SHAW
4. Enid Anne
3. George SHAW (b.Abt 1865)
3. Edward SHAW (b.12 Apr 1877-Salem,Eastern Cape,South Africa;d.28 Apr 1877-Salem,Eastern Cape,South Africa)
3. Samuel Best 'Boysie' SHAW (b.12 Apr 1877-Salem,Eastern Cape,South Africa;d.12 Aug 1888-Salem,EC,South Africa)
3. Hetty SHAW (b.Jun 1878-Salem,Eastern Cape,South Africa;d.16 Nov 1893-Salem,Eastern Cape,South Africa)
3. D'Urban SHAW (b.Abt 1884;d.7 Mar 1902)
2. Infant SHAW (b.15 Nov 1832;d.15 Nov 1832)
2. Daniel SHAW (b.Bef 1833;d.Bef 1861)
2. Catherine Esperance SHAW
Sunday, March 23
Cape Town, 6th September 1816
There was an urgency about the tall, athletic twenty eight year old Barnabas Shaw as he heaved the last sacks of seed into the wagon and secured them with the ploughshare, tools and wooden boxes and climbed up beside his wife, Jane Shaw. Twelve oxen ponderously hauled the wagon through the cobbled streets of Cape Town and found the track that led northwards through the grey rhenosterveld. They had bought the oxen, wagon and supplies with funds from the sale of their small property in England. There wasn’t time to wait ten months for a letter requesting funds to reach London and be answered.
They had been at the Cape for five months. The ministry among the soldiers was secure under lay leadership for the time being. Meanwhile, the Governor, Lord Charles Somerset, had refused to allow Shaw to work among the slave and indigenous population for fear of offending the slave owners and local Dutch citizenry. Shaw was frustrated, believing that they were vulnerable to exploitation and prey to the vices of the expanding empire. These were the ones he believed ‘wanted him most’ and if he was to be prevented from serving those who lived under the shadow of Table Mountain and the Governor, he would go to those beyond the reach of the Colonial administration, but not the degrading effect of modernity. Conversations with the Rev H Schmelen of the London Missionary Society and a compelling sense of God’s call convinced Jane and Barnabas Shaw that they must go to Namaqualand.
Nciemies, Namaqualand, September 1816
Chief Jaantjie Wildschutt and four chosen companions left Nciemies, their Khoi/Namaqua gathering place, and set off south, paused at the top of the pass through the Kamiesberg and looked back down to the valley below, dotted with matjieshuise and ablaze with its carpet of Spring flowers. The peace could not last. The people had to be prepared for the unscrupulous traders and land hungry trekboers who would inevitably come. How to manage the coming storm of change? The question knotted the Chief’s stomach by day and tormented his sleep at night. ‘We will go to Cape Town and find a teacher,’ he had decided.
For two weeks they marched south, covering three hundred kilometers of arid mountains. Eventually, in the distance they spied a wagon making its painstaking way north of the Olifants River. The chance meeting of Chief Wildschutt and Barnabas Shaw ‘in the middle of nowhere’ set a pattern of partnership between Wesleyan missionaries and leaders of African communities that would be repeated often in coming years. The timing had been perfect and their shared urgency more than coincidental. Both believed God had brought them together.
When the desert bloomed in Namaqualand
Leliefontein, Namaqualand, October 1816
There was a festive atmosphere as Chief Wildschutt and the Elders brought Barnabas and Jane Shaw to the gathering place at Nciemies, later re-named ‘Leliefontein’. Shaw wrote in his journal: ‘We took up our abode in a hut which had neither chimney nor even a door, and in all it was of small dimension.’ Just as well they had no furniture, sat on boxes and slept on the floor.
The Khoi/Namaqua nomadic way of life was not sustainable. A pastoral economy, supplemented by hunting in times of drought, is no match for an encroaching economy based on trade and agriculture. If they did not engage with the new economic order, learn its skills, share its trade and settle the land, the Khoi/Namaqua community would be pushed to the margins, despised as vagrants and persecuted as the San already were.
Within days Shaw began teaching agriculture and soon fast growing crops of lettuce, peas, onions and radishes augmented the traditional diet. Shaw, a capable amateur blacksmith, forged ploughs, expanding the lands under cultivation. The Khoi/Namaqua community quickly applied the lessons. Wheat became a major crop for local use and sale. With wheat came fodder and the traditional stock, hitherto fed by wandering from pasture to pasture, was fattened in the home fields. The manufacture of butter, soap and candles was achieved by the end of 1816. Carpentry, brick making, stonemasonry and construction followed, including the building of a church. By the 1830’s Leliefontein annually produced 2000 bags of wheat and boasted 3000 sheep, 3000 goats, 400 head of cattle and 150 horses, an economic hub in the region.
Meanwhile Barnabas and Jane Shaw, joined in 1817 by the Rev Edward Edwards, ensured that spiritual formation went on. Conversion to faith in Jesus Christ was followed by literacy and the training of school teachers, local preachers and class leaders. These made Leliefontein’s transforming Christian influence possible in communities throughout Namaqualand and the formation of the Namaqualand Mission.
Today the Namaqualand Mission numbers twenty six Societies, two Ministers and a host of deeply committed Local Preachers and Leaders, proud of their heritage and steeped in the traditions of Leliefontein. The Leliefontein history of wholistic mission that, ‘does every possible kind of good to people’s souls as well as to their bodies’, where people discover dignity and reconciled community through faith in Jesus Christ and express that dignity and reconciliation through economic empowerment and development, sets the standard and pattern for all Southern African Methodist Mission.
In June, 1825, two Namaqua preachers, products of Leliefontein, Johannes Jager and Jacob Links, accompanied by a visiting English missionary, William Threlfall, set off to re-establish a mission community at Warmbad, among the Bondleswart people in ‘Great Namaqualand’, now Namibia. The Warmbad mission was an initiative of the London Missionary Society, but the outbreak of war among local tribes had caused it to be abandoned. On reaching Warmbad, the San guides that Jager, Links and Threlfall employed on the way, attacked and killed them while they slept, taking their meagre possessions. Johannes Jager, Jacob Links and William Threlfall are revered as Southern African Methodism’s first martyrs and their memory is cherished to this day among the people of Namaqualand.
But the mission to Great Namaqualand did not fail. Five mission communities, including Warmbad, were established north of the Orange River, with Leliefontein as their base, eventually to be taken over by the Rhenish Mission.
A new people, a new era
Cape Town. 1820
When he arrived back in Cape Town from Leliefontein, the Rev Edward Edwards’s first concerns were the soldiers, the slaves and the Khoisan. Having spent three years with Barnabas and Jane Shaw at Leliefontein, the Wesleyan Missionary Committee in London sent him to Cape Town to take up the ministry that had been impossible, even for the likes of Barnabas Shaw, four years before. His brief was to take charge of the work that Sergeant John Kendrick had started and still flourished through the faithfulness of Kendrick’s men; to build a church and commence work among the slave and Khoisan population.
The majority of Cape Town’s population in 1820 was made up of slaves, a variegated community taken from Indonesia, West and East Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius. Meanwhile, although the resident Khoisan people were not slaves, they were treated by the Dutch as if they were.
These were the victims of empire. For a hundred and fifty years Cape Dutch policy had been to prevent, as far as they could, the preaching of the Gospel to slaves and the Khoisan. Advocacy for them and humanitarian work among them was regarded as treasonous. When the American Declaration of Independence declared it ‘to be self evident that all men are created equal’, Jean Jacques Rousseau, in France, declared the same, and John Wesley wrote to William Wilberforce to encourage him in his campaign to end slavery, the Dutch Governor at the Cape, Ryk Tulbagh, directed that any slave found at the entrance of a church when the congregation left should be flogged. These attitudes had been unchallenged, indeed deferred to, by Lord Charles Somerset, the British Governor at the Cape in 1816. The Wesleyan Missionary Committee and Edward Edwards were about to challenge them.
It would have been uncharacteristic of a Wesleyan Methodist of those days to engage in political activism. Instead Edwards went to the marginalized people themselves and began creating cohesive communities of faith. Dignity for the oppressed was to be found, neither in changing the minds of the oppressors nor challenging oppressive customs and policies, but first in the discovery of grace, in encounter with the Lord who loved them and gave himself for them, in the inner transformation of the new birth and the outer expressions of holiness, of love for one another, of disciplined lives and the arts of co-operation and mutual support. The time would come when oppressive customs and policies would not be sustainable against the emergence of a strong body of people made new. In 1828 the Colonial Administration declared by Ordinance that Hottentots [sic] were “entitled to every privilege to which any other British subjects are entitled.”
Edwards began his services in a hayloft in Plein Street. Services for soldiers were in English; for slaves and Khoisan in Dutch, which Edwards made a point of learning, as had Barnabas Shaw. The hayloft gave way to a disused wine store which, in 1822, was replaced by a newly built and simple church in Barrack Street. The church was opened by the renowned London Missionary Society minister, the Rev Dr. Philip. Other church buildings followed, more ministers arrived: Samuel Broadbent, James Archbell, William Shrewsbury, William Threlfall. Shaw returned from Namaqualand in 1826 and was joined by Robert Snowdall. In 1828 the church was built at Simonstown and is still in use today, its spire a hillside landmark that helped generations of ship’s pilots to find safe passage into the harbour. In 1829 a new church was built in Wynberg. But services and Societies were not limited to churches. Societies were formed in private homes in the most impoverished neighbourhoods, on Robben Island, on the farms at Rondebosch, Diep River, Somerset West, Stellenbosch and as far afield as Caledon, a sixty mile ride on horseback, east across the Hottentots Holland Mountains.
Thanks to laity and ministers like John Kendrick, George Middlemiss, Barnabas Shaw, Edward Edwards and many more, the Wesleyan Methodist Church was ready when life at the Cape was changed forever: 1st August 1834, the freeing of the slaves.
Proclaiming liberty to the captives
Cape Town, Monday, 31st July 1834
Although it was “business as usual” in Cape Town, there really was only one topic of conversation. In August 1833 King William IV of Great Britain had signed into Law an Act of Parliament that declared that slaves throughout the British Empire would be free on the 1st August 1834.
With 39000 slaves in the Cape Colony, a larger group than any other, a mixture of dread and expectancy filled the air. Fears of vengeance were whispered over dinner in wealthy homes, there was talk of widespread vagrancy, homelessness, drunkenness and disorder, prediction of financial ruin for slave owners, complaint about the cumbersome arrangements made for compensation. But also in the air was a sense of wonder, of beginning, of release, of the eventual triumph of right over wrong and deliverance from sin that brings a freshness to the faces of people, both sinners and sinned against, a sense of privilege at being part of a moment when history takes a decisive turn toward the good.
Since the 1770’s, sixty years before, the campaign for the Abolition of Slavery had been gaining ground in Britain, a movement that British Methodists had supported wholeheartedly with petitions to Parliament, pamphlets raising the awareness of the evils of slavery, public meetings addressed by missionaries on home leave, prayers and sermons in class meetings and worship services.
At the Cape there were already many Methodist Societies made up of English immigrants, Slaves and Khoisan. Class meetings were routinely mixed. Services in Dutch and English had been the pattern from the beginning.
As the afternoon of the 31st July 1834 wore into evening people began to move toward Cape Town’s churches. Most were slaves, but there were others who had, like Simeon, prayed, waited and worked for this salvation. Soon the churches were packed and worship was passionate, prayers full of emotion. Barnabas Shaw presided over the service in the Wesleyan Methodist Church and, at the stroke of midnight, with a voice breaking with emotion, cried out: “Slavery is dead!” The Service could not continue as the congregation broke out in loud shouts of thanksgiving and praise to God, newly freed men and women wept with great sobs.
The next day, 1st August 1834, the first day of the Emancipation of the Slaves, was celebrated in the Government Gardens in Cape Town with a huge feast of meat and bread given to thousands of newly freed slave children.