Mission Trail’s End


We had left Morija and were travelling South to Thabana Morena where the Baccuet girls had been living after the war. Their father, the Rev. Ernest Albert Baccuet was commissioned as chaplain to accompany the Basotho regiment in the British forces during World War II in the Middle East (Syria) until they were fully repatriated after the war.

“SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 25 MAY, 1943 ROYAL ARMY CHAPLAINS’ DEPARTMENT. The undermentioned are granted emergency commns. as Chaplns. to the Forces 4th Cl.: — 24th Nov. 1942: —Rev. Ernest Albert BACCUET (260930).”

The Mission House in Thabana Morena where the Baccuets lived from 1946-1950's. Eliane and Arlette about to step over the crumbling wall.

The Mission Church still in use today but sadly in need of renovation.

The mission church - built in 1863 and renovated in 1913.

More school buildings have been added over the years.

Masitise, near Quthing in the South - the old mission house where Eliane and Arlette lived in the 1960's.

Front door to the mission house - the building would soon need to be restored - but there are no funds.

The rusted remains of a former schoolbus behind this marvellous specimen.

Masitise Cave House, built between 1866 and 1867 into an ancient San cave by the founder of the Masitise Mission, Reverend David Frédéric Ellenberger (1835-1919). He lived here with his family until 1904. The cave house now contains a small museum.

In 1866 as a result of the Seqiti wars, the French missionaries were under constant attack from the Boers and Ellenberger crossed the Senqu (Orange) to an area where the Boers had not penetrated. Here, under the patronage of chief Moorosi, he founded the Masitise mission in an overhang under a cliff – La caverne (see Ambrose, 1989:10).

The Ellenberger's cave home - now a small museum.

Paul Ellenberger, a grandson of Frederic, is living in Montpellier and the Baccuets are in contact with him.

From left to right: Arlette, Richard, Eliane, our guide, Colleen & Walter

Masitise Mission Church.

Many of the buildings were built of fine local sandstone, cut and dressed by the Basothos.

On our travels through the villages we were delighted to see that sandstone is being used again for the building of private dwellings.

Inside the mission church.

This painting by the French artist Myrto Debard (1900-1983) is in dire need of restoration.

The cutest little bunch of learners ...

... and their fare-well. They enthusiastically repeated after us in unison and with great gusto, counting from 1-10 in French, German, English, Russian and Sesotho - easily endearing themselves. Walter's bird-whistles intrigued/amused them no end.

Our Lesotho trip, following a trail of mission history, came to an end. We crossed the Orange river, entering South African territory. Our friends had many happy moments of recollection but sad ones as well. Where there is now bare veld they remembered a lush rose garden their parents had created in Thabana Morena, and the duck pond too lay bare.
We were all dejected by the run-down conditions of the once thriving Missions. However, the schools are still active and there is an obvious spirit of happiness about.
The Lesotho Evangelical Church (L.E.C.) has been active despite persecution to defend the principles of good governance and democracy.
But such are the journeys down memory road – often full of pot holes … In the end, however, it was worth every minute and all the miles we covered. For us as well. We feel enriched by this experience – looking at history through the eyes of participants, being allowed in to share in their emotions, stories, memories …

With love from
Colleen & Walter
Betty’s Bay, Friday 23 March 2012

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