Our Forefathers Built this Church. Vertel! Vertel!

The Old Mission Church, Montagu (2019)

Montagu Museum encompasses Joubert House, The Art and Culture Centre and the Old Mission Church. The Montagu congregation of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church was officially formed in 1891, although the cornerstone of the present church was only laid in June 1907. The exhibition seeks to address the previously hidden narratives related to the indigenous inhabitants of the area, incorporating the themes of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church (now the United Reform Church), as well as the use of indigenous medicinal plants, drawing on input from the local community who once worshipped at the church.

In 1968 the congregation of the church was forced to move to the township designated for ‘coloureds’ according to the Group Areas Act. Since there was very little physical evidence of this history, a series of workshops was held with former congregants to gather stories and memorabilia to record the rich heritage of indigenous knowledge and the history of the church. The title of the exhibition, Our forefathers built this church. Vertel! Vertel!, reflects the oral history and community memory at the core of this exhibition.

The photographs show the church in the main street of Montagu, the workshop participants and the opening of the exhibition. Dominee Reginald Botha, leader of the Hessequa community and Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Ivan Meyer, presided over the opening. In the video clip, the community sings the national anthem.

Read more here: Montagu Museum – Old Mission Church

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