(work in progress)David Livingstone only served as the minister at the Moffat Mission for only a few years before his adventurous spirit encouraged him to venture further north into hitherto unexplored parts of the Dark Continent. However, he did continue to treat the Moffat Mission as a sort of spiritual home base, and returned periodically for...more
(work in progress)The focal point of the Moffat Mission is the church, which was first built in 1838, using stones bound together by mud (not mortar), a roof made of reeds and a pressed dung floor.The church was designed by Robert Moffat in an unusual cross shape, and can accommodate 800 people - as a result, for many years it was the largest...more
(work in progress)Some of the travel experiences I've cherished most are those that have taught me useful skills that I've been able to apply in my everyday life, so here's one to try with the kids at home ...If you're bored with conventional floor coverings, then follow this helpful step-by-step guide to making a pressed dung floor:1. First gather...more
The garden opposite the main mission house at the Moffat Mission is lined with ancient, arthritic pomegranate trees which line the route of the original irrigation furrow that was established by Moffat to bring water from the Eye of Kuruman. This furrow was 5km long and is the first documented use of irrigation in sub Saharan Africa. Prior to...more
It's easy to be somewhat scathing about Kuruman's lack of major tourist attractions, but in fact, it boasts a site that has had one of the most profound effects on Southern Africa's cultural development: the Moffat Mission.A mission station was established in the region by the London Missionary Society as early as 1816, and in 1820, Robert Moffat...more
Actually David Livingstone was presuming a good deal when he stepped outside into the garden with Miss Mary Moffat ... and after a discussion under an almond tree, they returned betrothed. Today this is all that remains of the almond tree in Mary Moffat's garden at the Moffat Mission. Ever the pragmatist, Dr Livingstone sensibly selected a bride...more
The 'Eye' (or 'Die Oog' in Afrikaans) of Kuruman is the major tourist attraction in town by a long way - and cynics would suggest that this is largely because there isn't a great deal else! Clearly they haven't bothered to explore the splendidly evocative Moffat Mission .... but I'm getting ahead of myself ...Nonetheless the Eye is very special,...more
The Kalahari Raptor Centre (KRC) is situated in 600 hectares (a private game reserve). The owners, a retired, British couple, care for injured and orphaned birds of prey, predators and small mammals, although when we were there their colony of meerkats had been wiped out.You are walked around the aviaries where they are caring for an assortment of...more
The church was built by Robert Moffat and Robert Hamilton with a band of local men. It was here in Kuruman , in 1824, that Robert Moffat of the London Missionary Society (LMS) and his wife Mary founded their mission station, from where they worked among the Tswana tribes for 50 years.more
Kuruman has a tarmac airstrip but there are no scheduled services here. It?s just outside town.
It?s long enough for a Beech 1900 though.
With a lot of brake application.
Kuruman itself is so off the beaten track that featuring a tourist attraction on the Kuruman page that is 'off the beaten track' really underlines how very remote it must be!That place is Hotazel - and yes, it is pronounced 'Hot as hell'!Hotazel is a small manganese mining town about 65km from Kuruman on the road to the Kalahari Gemsbok National...more
On the main N14 road between Kuruman and Kathu (towards Upington), close to the turn off for the Red Sands Country Lodge game farm, you may notice a windmill to the left of the road. Nothing unusual in that, there are many of them in the arid parts of South Africa.Only this one is much, much taller than usual. And it’s on the very top of a ridge,...more
Moffat wasn't the first missionary in the area. Johan Kok, an earnest Dutchman, had arrived in 1800 but was murdered just eight years later. Even today, Kuruman feels a long way from anywhere.
Robert Moffat, the son of a Scottish customs official, trained originally as a gardener in Scotland and the north of England, where he met his wife Mary. She was the daughter of the household and the relationship did not go down well with her wealthy family. He set off for London to take on missionary work, and almost immediately set off for Cape Town, arriving on the 13th January 1817. After some delays for political reasons, Moffat headed north to Namaqualand but was convinced that his future lay in the interior. After converting a local chief to Christianity, the authorities in Cape Town were more disposed to allowing Moffat to move to the interior areas in preference to having to establish military camps to protect the northern boundaries of the Cape Colony. By mid 1819, Mary had arrived in Cape Town and they were married there in December. Shortly afterwards, the politicians allowed him to travel to what is now called Kuruman, but not before some dithering reequired the Moffats to leave the area again.
It wasn't until May 1821 that Moffat finally settled in the Kuruman area (actually 4km away at a place called Lattakoo). It was far from easy though, and almost immediately, fleeing and aggressive tribes moving westwards required military support from Griquatown: such was the danger that the Moffats and their entourage needed to move to Griquatown several more times. In 1825, Moffat moved the mission to Kuruman. At that time, it really was a long way from anything familiar to him or his family. He got down to building his church (opened in 1828), a school (the first in the interior of southern Africa) and a place where he could translate the Bible into the local language, Tswana.
Fondest memory: Whatever one may think of missionaries, they were extremely brave and thought nothing of setting up home in inhospitable places. Kuruman itself is a well-watered oasis, but it is surrounded by tens of thousands of square kilometres of sparsely vegetated scrubland - in the good old days, it was eight days travel from Kimberley.
With his horticultural background, the agricultural part of his enterprise had a higher chance of survival than if others had been in Kuruman. He constructed a small canal from The Eye to water his crops: the canal survives today and still waters the crops. In 1831, a printing press had been delivered and Moffat was able to start printing parts of the Bible locally. By 1839, the misison was secure enough to allow the Moffats to return to England, where he was feted and treated like a great explorer - which, in many ways, he was. He returned to Kuruman in 1843 with a certain David Livingstone and other new missionaries; most of these were sent on to satellite stations further into the interior. Moffat himself made many long and dangerous trips northwards. In 1857, Moffat finished his biggest achievement, the completion of the entire Bible into the Tswana language.
Moffat's church, too, survived down the years as did most of the buildings around, surrounded by syringa trees. It almost didn't make it: the 1950 Group Areas Act forced its closure and it wasn't until 1981 that the United Congregational Church, Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian churches jointly reestablished it. As well as theological education, the centre provides secular community leadership skills training and a much needed local library.