When I was five my parents moved to the UK from Zululand where they had been missionaries for 16 years. I’m embarking on a kind of pilgrimage to visit for the first time the place I was born and the places my mum and dad ministered.
Today I visited Rorkes Drift, a mixture of beauty and also ugliness. The museum retelling the terrible Zulu war and then the lesser known beautiful mission station that has transformed into an arts and craft centre.
The mission centre was established in 1962 by Swedish artists Ulla and Peder Gowenius, who were employed by the Church of Swedish Mission. A Fine Art School was included in the activities and during its 20 years of existence many students from all over of South Africa have become internationally known. Like the lino print artist John Mafungajo.
My mum joined this mission in the late 60’s.
Today I spent time with people that my mum had taught weaving and the arts too. What struck me was the way people spoke about the impact of what my mum had done and how she had worked with and shared community in the midst of the time of apartheid. All people ate and worked together, regardless of race.
I approached a lady called Philda who was weaving today. She was so pleased to meet the son of the person who has taught her the very craft she was teaching others as a master weaver.
I also met the manager of the arts centre, a lady called Princes. She showed me the place my mum lived and spoke about the impact she and others had upon her life. Here I am with her outside the arts center:
What I got from today as I venture on my pilgrimage is the heritage I have recieved from my parents. It’s rich!