“Africa. Character of Africaner”

BIPOC Voices in the Victorian Periodical Press

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OUR readers are in some measure acquainted with the character of this remarkable man, whose conversion and subsequent conduct display one of the most striking instances of the power of renewing grace with which we are acquainted. The following testimony to the reality of his piety will afford delight to every intelligent and serious reader.

"Wonders of grace to God belong,
Repeat his mercies in your song"

In a former letter I gave you the account received by Mr. Moffat, of the death of this chief: I have not yet received so much detail on this subject as I could have wished, but such as I have obtained since I last wrote you is interesting. All the accounts I have received of Africaner since Mr. Moffat left him to support the mission at Lattakoo, agree in representing him as having conducted himself, in his family and among his people, in a manner the most honourable to his profession. In his household he exemplified in a high degree the graces of the christian parent and master; and from the day Mr. Moffat was taken from him he continued with much humility, zeal, diligence, and prayer, to supply as much as in his power the place of a missionary. The labours of a missionary were assumed by him from necessity, not from vanity or the love of authority, for while he was meeting with his people on the Lord's Day, expounding to them the word of God, and conducting the public services of religion, he was constantly inquiring, whether he was likely soon to have another missionary, and expressing the most earnest desire on this subject. Africaner was a man of considerable natural talents, of undissembled piety, and he possessed an experimental and an enlarged acquaintance with his Bible. Such as recollect the questions put to him in the presence of the Deputation on our arrival in South Africa, will be willing to admit what has been said respecting his knowledge of the scriptures; and to show his good sense and the subdued character of his mind, the following anecdotes may be noticed.

When he was in Cape Town in 1819, the Colonial Government made him a present of a wagon, an article of considerable value in this country. Remarking to him, on this occasion, that he must be very thankful to the Government for this mark of esteem, I shall never forget his reply. 'I am (said he) truly thankful to Government for the favour they have done me in this instance; but favours of this nature to persons in my circumstances are heavy to bear. The farmers between this and Namacqua land would much rather have heard that I had been executed at Cape Town, than that I had received any mark of favour from Government. This circumstance will, I am apprehensive, increase their hatred against me; under the influence of this spirit every disturbance which may take place on the borders of the colony will be ascribed to me, and there is nothing I more dread, than that the Government should suppose me capable of ingratitude.'

The intimate acquaintance with human nature, and the refinement displayed in this remark from a man who had been six years before the savage leader of a savage tribe, added much to the favourable opinion I had previously formed both of his talents and his piety. It will be recollected that Africaner accompanied the Deputation on their first journey as far as Tulbagh, when we separated, taking different routes, the chief pursuing his journey along the Western coast of Africa, while we were called to visit the missionary stations on the Eastern coast.

While at Tulbagh, the temper of Africaner was exposed to a trial which furnished him with an opportunity of showing his christianspirit. A woman, under the influence of prejudice excited by his former character, meeting him upon the public street, followed him for some time, vociferating with all her might, and heaping upon him all the coarse and bad names which her vocabulary could supply; reaching the place where his people were standing by his wagon, with a number of people whom this woman had drawn together still following him, his only remarks were, This is hard to bear, but it is part of my cross, and I must take it up. In the following extract of a letter from the Rev. Edward Edwards, Weslyan missionary at Khamiesberg, will be found a corroboration of what I have before stated respecting this singular man, and it shows that my estimate of his character has not been influenced by a partiality in his favour arising from his connexion with our Society.

"I regret much that Africaner is no more. His influence among the Namacquas was very considerable, and with a little assistance from Government would have rendered the cause of God in that country essential service. Again, Africaner was a living witness of the power of divine grace in changing the heart of one who was formerly so much dreaded by the colonists, and no less so by the surrounding tribes. I believe he adorned his profession, and I have no reason to doubt but his conversion to God was sound. Africaner had a tolerable share of common sense, and was upon the whole a very superior Hottentot. His mind had been much improved by his intercourse with missionaries, and their instructions were by no means lost upon him, for his profiting appeared unto many. He was a Hottentot, and I think a sufficient refutation of that old charge, that Hottentots have no minds and are not capable of improvement, and therefore cannot and ought not to be put upon a level with other nations, as it respects intellect. The Hottentot's powers have been much underrated."

The whole life of Christian Africaner from his conversion, was marked by humility, consistency, and devotedness to God; and the manner of his death appears to have been worthy of the christian profession he had maintained.

The son of Christian Africaner, a pious youth, wrote to Mr. Bartlett an account of this event, as follows:—"My Dear Father, I have very unpleasant news to write to you; we have had a very heavy and shocking stroke, much lamented by us. It has pleased the Lord to remove from this world my grandfather, and seven days after my father; a few hours before my father died, he called his children together and exhorted them to live in the fear of the Lord, and under the preaching of the gospel, and died triumphant! Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; the latter end of that man is peace!"


Digital Publication Details

Title: “Africa. Character of Africaner”

Creator(s): [John] Philip; Edward Edwards; Anonymous

Publication date: (1823) 2022

Digital publishers: One More Voice, COVE

Critical encoding: Trevor Bleick, Kenneth C. Crowell, Kasey Peters, Adrian S. Wisnicki

One More Voice identifier: liv_025017

Cite (Chicago Author-Date): [John] Philip, Edward Edwards, and Anonymous. (1823) 2022. “Africa. Character of Africaner.” Edited by Trevor Bleick, Kenneth C. Crowell, and Kasey Peters. In “BIPOC Voices,” One More Voice, solidarity edition; Collaborative Organization for Virtual Education (COVE). https://onemorevoice.org/html/bipoc-voices/digital-editions-soas/liv_025017_HTML.html.

Rights: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

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