Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Bethanie and Bethulie in the Free State

At Bethanie and Bethulie in the Free State - Wikipedia

In 1834, Richard Miles traveled, as interpreter; with the Berlin Missionaries to establish a station amongst the Tswana in the interior (they joined Andrew Smith’s “Expedition into Central Africa” at Graaff Reinet)

In the event, Matabele incursions into Tswana territory persuaded the missionaries that work amongst the Korana – at the place they named Bethanie – would be a better idea. And so Miles’s interpretive skills were tested to the limit: some of the Korana had a smattering of Setswana, while Miles himself soon learned the basics of their language. An early encounter with local San stumped both the missionaries and their interpreter! (It is recorded that Miles spoke “the most fluent Setswana” when a group of Batswana visited the missionaries in August 1834)

In 1848 Carl Wuras obtained permission to employ “the Bechuana Richard Miles” – formerly interpreter – as “school assistant” – “the same man who came with our first missionaries from Cape Town to Bethanie”. Later, in 1850, Wuras described how three Batswana had learned the Articles of Faith in one evening, having been instructed in their own language by the assistant Richard Miles. Miles assisted at this period in providing education to children as well as adults.

In March 1850, when the government of the Orange River Colony sought to appoint a headman or Kaptyn for Bethanie, it was Richard Miles whom Wuras recommended to Major Warden: “a Bechuana by birth and assistant at the school, who could understand and speak English, Nederlands, Setswana and Korana”. And thus it was that the British Resident appointed Miles as Kaptyn of Bethanie in the name of His Excellency the Governor of the Cape.

By the late 1850’s Miles was ith the French Missionaries, and acted as agent for the Tswana Chief Lephoi, at Bethulie. Here he became embroiled in land speculation, with one George Donovan, which led to the loss of land by lephoi and the missionaries, and the beginnings of the town Bethulie.

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