Somewhere – it might have been the “Rapport” or “Beeld” this biography of Dutch Reformed (“Hervormd” – NHK) missionaries, pastors and their families was reviewed and I ordered a copy. It’s been in my shelf for quite a while, until I put it on my reading pile next to my bed. Last night was the night to get going and thankfully so. I didn’t put it down until I had scanned through it for the first time. It’s a short (221 pages) diary-style biography of several generations with pictures and lots of breathing spaces after chapters… Not as if you’d need those. Lucia Prinsloo – herself a daughter of missionaries, who worked amongst Afrikaners under the “Blue mountain” (Meru) up in Tanzania has got a fluent style, doesn’t get carried away, but still has the gift to describe the turmoil, dark valleys and psychological trauma missionaries and pastors (and their families!) go through as they try to follow their calling in this world and amongst God’s people.
These people got around S.Africa quite a bit. Starting off up there in Tanzania interesting insights for a descendant of Hermannsburg missionaries, who tried in vain to get into Dar es Salaam in the mid-19th century, these Dutch reformed farmers were called there by German colonial authorities and lived in areas missionized by the Leipzig Mission society. It’s rather fascinating for me, because LP doesn’t write about Africans – as in black – very much. Her forebears were to serve the afrikaans farmer community up there. The same goes for their service in the Republic later – whether it’s up in the bushveld (Letaba) with fascinanting hunting stories. She (or is it her mother?) shoots an elephant bull backed up by her husband and son. That’s decades ago from an age long gone. Now, the same family is into game conservation and the nurturing of their precious heritage, wherever they go.
Anyway, it’s more about the Afrikaners and less about Africans. There’s not much about politics either. Only some indications here and there, but nothing serious. The same goes for the theology parts. It’s not much about what was preached, taught and confessed. Rather more about the sociological side of things as pastors try to balance their work-pastime activities and the congregations don’t like the “tent-maker” ministry of their “dominee” much, because they feel cheated and short-changed by his dentistry – or the farming activity of those following.
It’s enlightening to read about the wives, who shelve their chosen profession in support of their husband’s ministry, to raise children and take care of the family and house, but as things get tough, they are called to step back into the professional world to make things work out – here in Pretoria or in Britain, because they need to make ends meet.
This story is about passionate people and several generations, who love Africa. Who have a deep sense of calling and also a great sense of responsibility, wherever they live. But it’s also about people, who are rather restless, wandering from one place to the next, one congregation to another, one occupation to seek still another one. They bid farewell regularly, too often for my liking actually. I never did like leaving home since going to boarding school in my young years. These people however don’t stress about things, you can’t change. They are guided by God’s calling and make their temporary homes, wherever they come and as good as they can. Quickly, without much fuss about amenities, hard working and with close and unbreakable family ties, which are much stronger than any other bonds that come to my mind. They are carried all along and motivated continuously by the strong faith and hope, that God will make things work out. That’s what “Kwaheri” means in Swahili: “May it go well with you!”
LP’s got a knack to show, how the same spirit that drove her forebears is still in her children and grandchildren. Times and things have changed, but the Afrikaner are still freedom loving, passionate and god-fearing people, who take up the challenges of this millennium with similar trust and confidence as their ancestors – be it as a soldier in the British army in Afghanistan, an English as 2nd language teacher in England or as a game farmer in the bushveld or as dentist in Jeffries Baai. Theirs is a vision going much further than just the narrow confines of a traditional village. It’s more like those wandering archfathers of old or the people of Israel going through the desert lands to the promised place up front somewhere.
Hiking up the Drakensberg, along the coastlines or through challenging terrain of deserts and woodlands plays a big role in these people’s lives. They walk, climb and struggle up and down crevices, steep cliffs and severely challenging terrain pushing themselves further and further as they learn to cope with life and understanding their destiny. I’m looking forward to reading more by LP. She has touched my heart and soul. She and her husband are moving to the E.Cape, where he’ll continue his calling and she hers – writing more stories about Africa and it’s wonderful people – always with the intrinsic goodwill and peace loving attitude towards others that has determined their life: “Kwaheri.” Lovely people, moving story and I hope it will go well with them as family, tribe and nation – and that we’ll hear more of them in coming times! It’s much like the familiar greetings from around the world: Adieu, Tschüss, Vaarwel, Hamba gahle and God’s speed!
To close off, let me quote her farewell at her father’s funeral, where she put a big bunch of those beautiful and meaningful Strelitzias onto his coffin: “Totsiens, Pa. Dit was ‘n goeie reis. Rus nou in die aarde wat jy so lief gehad het. Ons wat hier agterbly, sal jou nooit vergeet nie, Pa. Ons het gesien hoe jy stry en nooit moed verloor nie. Ons het gesien hoe jy en Ma saamgestaan het en moed gehou het. Ons het gesien hoe julle geglo en gebid het. Ons sal die reis voortsit. Kwaheri, Pa!“
 Lucia Prinsloo, 2001: “Kwaheri my geliefde”. Corals Copious Publishers, Wanderbijlpark.
 Roughly translated this means: “Bye Dad. It was a good journey. Rest now in the earth, that you loved so much. We, who remain, will never forget you, Dad! We saw your struggles, but also that you didn’t lose hope. We saw you standing together with Mom and how you kept the faith. We say, the way you trusted and prayed. We will continue the journey. Kwaheri, Dad!”