Wednesday 14 November 2018

Of Dinuzulu, Boer prisoners and the slave trade - Blogging from the South Atlantic

Travelling inland on St Helena (Photo: Archbishop Thabo)

Visiting the Diocese of St Helena with Bishop Stephen Diseko of Matlosane, Dean of the Province, and Bishop Allan Kannemeyer of Pretoria, for the consecration and installation of Bishop Dale Bowers, Archbishop Thabo writes: 

Tuesday November 13:

After Morning Prayer at St James' Church in Jamestown, we started our Bishops' peer training at St James' Vicarage with Bishop Dale, touching on the bishop as a person and caring for oneself.

The three of us - Bishops Stephen and Allan and I - shared our own varied experiences, which was very fruitful for all of us.

Then we toured the island, visiting parishes and chapelries. We began at Rupert's Valley, where we saw a new wharf that has been built to accommodate shipping.

[Map of St Helena]

We learned of the sad past history of slaves buried on the island. (After slavery was abolished, it is estimated that 15,000 slaves were landed at Rupert's Valley during the suppression of the Atlantic slave trade.)

We also saw the house where Dinuzulu lived when the British exiled him to St Helena in the 1890s. Tomorrow I will take a picture of the little graves at St. Paul's Cathedral where two of Dinuzulu’s children are buried.

At Rupert’s Bay we saw some of the structures that Boer prisoners-of-war built, when they were exiled to the island after the Anglo-Boer War.

From seeing evidence of the pain of the past, we drove up past St. Paul’s Cathedral through green pastures (as if enacting Psalm 23) to Blue Hill, the most rural and remote of St Helena's districts. It is a place of lush green grass, with sheep and oxen roaming about.

We went to the small beautiful chapel of St Helena and the Cross, then down a meandering road to see Sandy Bay emerging, beautifully, in the far distance.

St Helena and the Cross, Blue Hill
We parked by the wayside and had our packed lunch, and enjoyed being enveloped by a cloud that quickly made the area grey in no time.

We are back for Evening Prayer at 18:00 at St James and then meeting parishioners at St Matthew's Parish tonight.

We are familiar with most of the people now, having met them on the plane coming here, at our hotel and at church. We are all hoping the plane will arrive on Saturday - there is only one flight a week - because although it is wonderful to be here, we all have busy schedules back at home next week.

Archbishop Thabo's Monday blog, as carried on Facebook: 

The consecration and installation [on Sunday] lasted three hours and was beautiful. St. Paul’s Cathedral was packed, with about 220 people attending, including ecumenical clerics and guests and Her Excellency the Governor (Lisa Honan) and members of the Legislative Council.

My highlight of the colourful service came when Bishops Steve and Allan, acting like 10 bishops with their copes hiding Dale like a moth, stepped aside for him to emerge, clad in his episcopal regalia, like a butterfly. It was indescribably glorious and led to tears of joy, and the choir made it memorable too.

At the service on Sunday I weaved in the history of the island in our Province, citing isiZulu, Sesotho and Afrikaans, as I referred to the exile of King Dinuzulu of the Zulu nation here in the 1890s and the confinement of Boer prisoners of war here during the Anglo-Boer War.

On Monday, after Evening Prayer with Bishop Dale and his team, we joined parishioners of the cathedral at the community hall for a bring-and-share dinner, which was very special, with all kinds of island spreads and dishes. We can only complain, if we have to, of too much food! We took a group picture and I shared a few words of encouragement, sung "To God be the glory," and said the Lord’s Prayer. The Bishop replied and I offered the blessing in isiXhosa.

Exploring St Helena and the Diocese's parishes (Photo: Archbishop Thabo)

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