The early churches in South Africa were not free to appoint their ministers. These men were appointed by the State. There was also no free election of church councillors – names of men willing to serve had to be submitted to the magistrates of the little villages at the end of each year and these were passed to the Governor for approval and appointment. Yet Beaufort West’s Scottish parson, Colin Fraser, had his own way of thumbing his nose at such autocratic authority. He forwarded all his correspondence to the Government in Dutch, despite the fact that there were clear regulations stating that this had to be done in English. Sir George Napier found it most odd that a Scottish minister would “insist in constantly sending us Dutch documents.” He regularly returned all Fraser’s reports with terse notes attached stating: “to be translated according to the rule.” Most times he simply got them back again – still in Dutch – so in the long run it was much simpler and faster to translate them in Cape Town. Most of the Dutch farmers of the hinterland considered the Scottish ministers who came out to serve them “gifts from God.” They loved these men, respected and revered them. Most of the Scottish ministers in turn became true Afrikaners.
© Rose’s Roundup, vol. 2, no. 75, December 2009
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