In 1804, Cornelius Kramer and William Anderson of the London Missionary Society extended their mission north of the Orange River. They chose a mixed community of the Chaguriqua tribe and ‘bastaards’ (people of mixed origin) who had come north from Piketberg (now in the Western Cape). In 1813 the ‘bastaards’ were renamed Griquas and the town was renamed Griquatown.
In 1821 the Scottish missionary Robert Moffat (1795-1883) and his wife Mary (1795-1870), travelled from Cape Town to the most northern regions of the Cape Colony.
They stayed at the Mission Station in Griquatown (in the Northern Cape) and Mary, who was heavily pregnant, gave birth to a daughter.
Shortly after their baby was born, whom they also named Mary, the Moffat’s continued on their way to settled amongst the Bechuana tribes in the southern Kalahari, to the west of the Vaal River.
South Africa Holiday: One of the many restored houses at the Kuruman Moffat MissionTogether with Robert Hamilton, Robert and Mary Moffat established the best-known Mission Station in Africa, often referred to as ï¿½the fountain of Christianityï¿½.
South Africa Holiday: Robert and Mary Moffat’s homestead at the Kuruman Moffat MissionThe mission station also became a base for famous explorers, including David Livingstone (1813-1873).
In 1844 David Livingstone married the Moffat’s daughter Mary.
Between 1852 and 1856 Livingstone explored the African interior, and was the first European to see the Mosi-oa-Tunya waterfall (which he renamed Victoria Falls after Queen Victoria).
Robert Moffat was responsible for translating The Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress into Setswana. Their original printing press can still be seen at the Kuruman Moffat Mission.
At the Kuruman Moffat Mission just outside Kuruman the original church has been perfectly preserved and is in mint condition, as are other historic houses.
It was not until 1887 that the official town of Kuruman in the Northern Cape was laid out.
Mary Moffat Museum – Griquatown
The London Mission Society House in Griquatown was built in the late 1820s. When Griquatown was laid out as a town in 1879, the survey commenced from the Mission House, the parallels being taken from the front walls of the building.
South Africa Holiday: The restored Mission House in Griquatown – the Mary Moffat Museum
In 1904 the Mission House was sold to Barclays Bank, who purchased the property directly from the London Missionary Society, and up until 1956 used it as a bank. When Barclays completed their new building next door, the building was converted into the Mary Moffat Museum, dedicated to the baby born here in 1821.
The so-called Moffat pulpit can be seen in the museum. A declared National Monument, it was probably made by Robert Hamilton, a co-operator of Moffat. The old ship’s bell was the church bell, and was said to have been brought from Cape Town on the back of an ox. It announced the sermons preached by the missionaries Livingstone, Moffat and Waterboer.