Thursday 8 May 2014

King Letsie III Renews Family Ties With Bishopscourt

King Letsie III of Lesotho renewed family ties with Bishopscourt going back more than 150 years when he paid a courtesy call on Archbishop Thabo and Mrs Lungi Makgoba in Cape Town on May 2.

He had visited Bishopscourt previously, but said he learned for the first time on this visit that two of his ancestors - the younger sons of King Moshoeshoe I, Tlali and Tsekelo - had studied there. He had known they had been educated in Cape Town, he said, but not that they had been at Bishopscourt.

Tlali and Tsekelo were among the sons and daughters of southern African leaders, among them Maqoma and Sandile of amaRharhabe, who were taken to Cape Town in the late 1850s as part of a project of the British colonial authorities.

They received an education at Bishopscourt in an institution which was first established at the residence of the first Bishop of Cape Town, Robert Gray, and which later became Zonnebloem College in District Six.

According to a history of Zonnebloem College by Janet Hodgson, Gray described the aim of the Cape colonial governor, George Grey, in starting the school as being "That England might exercise, through means of an institution which conferred great benefits upon them, her due influence over the native chiefs around us, and at the same time give a high education to those who are likely to influence the destinies of the various tribes within our reach."

For his part, Robert Gray hoped that the students might become "witnesses for Christ to their fellow-countrymen, and, if we qualify them for the work, as schoolmasters, catechists, and we trust also, even as ordained ministers".

Bishop Gray also said the aim of the initiative had been to bring the students into "contact with the highest intelligence and the most striking proof of England's power, and of the advantages of civilization to be got in this country".

PHOTOS by Shaun Cozett: Top, Archbishop Thabo and King Letsie III; Middle, the Archbishop and the King with Mrs Lungi Makgoba; and the King's delegation with Archbishop and Mrs Makgoba and Bishopscourt chief of staff, the Rev Margaret Heyns.