History

Province: Western Cape
Overberg
Coordinates: 34°02′S 19°33′E
Area: 3.97 km2
Municipality: Theewaterskloof

Genadendal was the first mission station in Southern Africa. It was founded by Georg Schmidt who was a German missionary from the Moravian Church. He settled in Baviaanskloof (Baboon Ravine) in 1738 where he preached to the local Khoi people. A task many thought was impossible, but he persevered. He worked with the Khoi who were practically on the edge of extinction partly due to the introduction of smallpox by the European settlers. Still, he taught them to read and write but ran into stiff opposition from the Dutch Reformed Church, so he returned to Germany in 1744. In 1792 three more missionaries arrived in Baviaanskloof where they found the remains of Schmidt’s mission and met up with some of the converts. They set up homes but were not allowed to establish a church without permission from the Dutch East India Company. They were even prohibited from ringing a bell to call people to school or church. However, when the British took occupation of the Cape in 1795 they were given permission to build the first chapel which was consecrated in 1796. Thereafter the village grew and a forge and a mill were built. In 1806 during the second British occupation of the Cape Baviaanskloof was named Genadendal ( Valley of Grace)
The Khoekhoen laws passed in 1808 had the intention of keeping the indigenous people employed as farm labourers. So in return for conversion to Christianity, they were given shelter and access to land.
At one time Genadendal was the second biggest settlement in the Cape. However, not everyone was well pleased with the setup. particularly some farmers in the Strandveld who wanted to end the mission. The mostly illiterate farmers felt threatened by these locals who became skilled and educated, so potential labourers flocked to Genadendal. The settlement flourished and soon a guest house a chemist shop and a library were also set up. Sadly the Industrial Revolution had a negative effect on Genadendal where factories in Cape Town began to mass-produce goods more cheaply and artisans and craftspeople had to leave and look for employment elsewhere.
It is significant that the first teachers’ training college was established in Genadendal in 1838 and was unfortunately closed in 1926 by the Department of Public Education. They argued that coloured people did not need education as they were to be employed as farmworkers.

The postcode for Genadendal is 7234

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Things to see and do in Genadendal

  • Cultural History Museum
  • Operational water mill,
  • The village with its whitewashed thatched houses is a national monument.
  • A printing museum,-The original Moravian mission church houses the oldest pipe organ in South Africa
  • -Oldest Moravian mission village in Africa with church buildings and a school dates back to 1738
  • Genadendal Hiking trail 2 day hike
  • The bell tower next to the trading store used to be used for church services, to call children for school, and to mark the beginning and end of shifts for workers in the fields from. It was presented to Genadendal in 1793.
  • The church, which was built in 1891. See the simple white-painted wooden benches, The pipe organ is said to be the oldest in South Africa.

Useful Numbers

  • Police: 028 251 1000/5
  • Municipality-028 254 9620
  • Traffic department: Caledon-028 212 2878
  • Fire: 076 614 6370 / 028 254 1690
  • Water:028 254 9620
  • Electricity:028 254 9620
  • Ambulance: Caledon- 028 211 0177 / 10777
  • Post office;028 251 8196
  • Library:028 251 8130
  • Closest hospital; Caledon- 028 212 1071
  • Clinic: 028 254 9887
  • Pharmacy;The Local Choice Pharmacy Vigne-028 254 9564
  • SPCA: Overberg Veterinary Hospital: 028 212 1551 or 028 214 1211
  • Schools:
  • Emil Weder Secondary School-028 251 8119
  • L.R. Schmidt Mor Primary School- 0282518207
  • Berea Mor Primary School- 0282518271
  • Museum; Genadendal Mission Museum-028 251 8582                                                         [/vc_column_text]
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