Johann Friedrich Tönsing (1832 - 1882)

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Nicknames: "Johann Friedrich Tonsing"
Birthplace: Wimmer bei Lintorf, Osnabrückerland, Germany
Death: Died in Manuane, ZAR (Transvaal), South Africa
Occupation: Missionary
Managed by: Gudrun (Gunni) Tönsing
Last Updated:

About Johann Friedrich Tönsing

Missionary Education: 1857 - 1861 in Hermannsburg, Germany

Travelled on the Kandaze to SA

Arrival in South Africa: 18 March 1862 in Port Elizabeth, then changed and arrived in Durban late April 1862

Missions: Edlomodlomo, Northern Natal

1865 - 1882: Limao (now Botswana)

1882: Manuane, Transvaal (founded this station at the request of Chief GOPANE)

J Friedrich Tönsing was first sent, after learning Zulu in Hermannsburg, Natal, to establish a Mission in Edlomodlomo. This was a Royal Kraal. The King welcomed the missionary as a honoured guest, assigned him a place to stay across the little river from the village, where he first lived in his ox-wagon. According to Zulu custom, a guest is provided with all that is neede for life and settlemetn by the community, represented by its leader. So the King sent a numer of young women and men to make a homestead for the missionary - huts for cooking, sleeping, and a wall around an ope area. An extra hut was also built.

The relationship carried on on a positive note, with the teaching and preaching of the missionary being respectfully received, but no baptisms occurred. After some months, again in accordance with Zulu custom, a group of young women crossed the little river to the homestead of the missionary, ululating and singing. At the homestead, they continued to sing, dance and ululate - until they left, leaving one of their number behind - daughter of the royal family - who had moved into the extra hut.

J Friedrich Tönsing, being a gentleman of the Victorian age, could not imagine stayin in the homestead overnight with a scantily dressed member of the opposite sex, without her being married to him, and she being not baptised. He sent her back.

Post-haste, a messenger returned, in which the King informed the missionary that this rejection of the gift of his daughter was an insult so severe that he would not be able to withhold the anger of his people more than 24 hours.

Johann Friedrich Tönsing jumped on his horse, taking only the minimum necessary, and rode at speed to Hermannsburg, where, after consultation, it was decided that he should continue riding up to the far western Transvaal - as far away from the wrath of the King as possible.

There, he had to learn a new language. At his first station, Limao, he worked for 17 years, but only baptised very few people.

On invitation of the Kgosi Gopane, who had founded Gopanestad/ Manuane, he moved there (Limao was deserted soon afterward, and the ruins are scarcely to be found now), and soon could baptise many. He worked hard to teach, preach, and build - but died soon after completion of the manse and church.

He had married twice - a widow each time. His widow soon had to move out of the manse - to make space for his successor. She was accompanied bt ten children, some of whom were nor related to her at all.

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J Friedrich Tönsing's Timeline

April 3, 1832
Wimmer bei Lintorf, Osnabrückerland, Germany
- 1863
Age 29
ehlomohlomo, kwaZulu, South Africa
- 1879
Age 31
Limao, Botswana
Age 32
South Africa
February 13, 1866
Age 33
Limao, Botswana
Age 34
Zeerust Rural, North West, South Africa
April 2, 1868
Age 35
October 25, 1870
Age 38
Zeerust Rural, North West, South Africa
Age 43
Pella, Transvaal, South Africa