Early Nordic Settlers in South Africa
This project is for Early Nordic Settlers in South Africa who came from the countries in the Scandinavian Peninsula - Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Faroe Islands (the latter two to a lesser extent)
It is also a place where you can share links to online resources, tell other users where records etc. can be found and make queries or ask for help through the discussion facility.
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The earliest anti-apartheid activities were taken by the Nordic trade unions involved in a boycott action against South Africa in 1960. The Danish government took a very active stand against apartheid and established the ‘Apartheid Appropriation’ in 1963, a humanitarian budget that channelled all official Danish support to Southern Africa through NGOs. In 1986 the Danish parliament passed unilateral trade sanctions against South Africa, the first country in the world to do so.
Finns first went to South Africa in the 18th century. Henric Jacob Wikar was born in Kruunupyy in 1752 and after studying in the Academy of Turku he travelled to Holland. In 1773 he worked for the Dutch East India Company in Cape Town as a clerk in a hospital. Being a gambler he left the job after two years and went to unknown regions north of the Colony. Wikar was one of the first Europeans to explore the Orange River and the first European to see the Augrabies Falls. His diary is a valuable source for researching the early history of South Africa and the native culture. Wicar was living with another early Finn to Africa - August Nordenskiöld who in 1792 joined an expedition to Free Town in Sierra Leone to found a colony called ”New Jerusalem”. This utopian enterprise never materialized and Nordenskiöld died soon of exhaustion caused by diseases and maltreatment by the natives. The mining industry in the 1860s and 1870s caused an economic upheaval in South Africa. By the close of the century deep-shaft mining in Transvaal started to attract Finnish immigrants. In the 1890s emigration to South Africa, and especially to the golden city of Johannesburg, especially from Swedish-speaking Ostrobothnia.
At the turn of century many Finns fought in the Boer War on both sides. About 1,500 Finns emigrated to South Africa before the First World War. Finnish adventurers could be found in many European colonies in the 20th century. The most famous of these was Carl Theodor Eriksson who, after fighting in the Boer war, found important mining areas in Katanga, Belgian Kongo, to be exploited later. Finnish missionary work began in Amboland, now Namibia, in 1870. Many of the missionaries stayed permanently in Africa.
Today there are a couple of thousand Finns living in Africa. Many of them are in missionary work or employed by Finnish and international companies.
The earliest records of people going to Africa is 1900 according to the table at this web page
About 20 Norwegians had made their way to the Cape before the 1880’s mainly because of the commercial and maritime relationship between the Norwegians and The Netherlands. Christian missionaries formed the vanguard of settlement. H.P.S. Schreuder (1817-1882), a minister of the established Lutheran Church of Norway, came to Port Natal in 1844 with the intention of proceeding to Zululand but was turned back by Mpande.
Hilmer Brudevold (1842-1913), the most prominent of these early adventurers, sailed to Natal in 1862 and began a sugar and coffee plantation near Port Shepstone. Shortly after his arrival he joined the Alexandra Mounted Rifles, eventually becoming a colonel and fighting in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. Brudevold, or Bru-de-Wold, as he dashingly spelt his name in Natal, later served as a justice of the peace and received citations from the government of the colony.
Jacob Jacobsen Egeland (1864--1946) rose from an inauspicious beginning to become the best-known and probably the wealthiest Norwegian in Natal. A deckhand on a ship that broke up near Durban in 1880, the teenager was hauled ashore with other sailors and decided to remain in Africa and try his luck. Walking to Zululand, Egeland worked briefly for a farmer before returning to Durban. He greeted the first party of Norwegian immigrants when they disembarked there in 1882. During a second foray into Zululand, he opened an inn and shop that he operated for three years. When business stagnated, though, Egeland returned to Durban and gradually became a tycoon with interests in shipping, fishing, timber, and whaling. For decades he was not only the acknowledged economic kingpin of the city's expanding Norwegian community, but also a mainstay in its cultural life.
Other Norwegians reached Natal individually before the organised emigration began. In nearly all instances they settled in or near Durban
In July 1882 a party of 34 families left from Aalesund for Durban. The heads of these families were:
- K Martinsen, merchant
- A Andersen, bookseller
- E Bjorseth, cabinet maker
- O P Valdal, tailor
- O A Vinjevold, farmer
- J Lilebo, builder
- O E Haajem, ship builder
- A Bjorkelund, farmer
- N Gidske, farmer
- K Hageselle, farmer
- J O Oie, farmer
- E Pahr, teacher
- I Igesund, famer
- G O Kvalsvig, farmer
- M Holte, blacksmith
- G Kjonstad, teacher
- J Kjonstad, farmer
- J Nero, agronomist
- C Rodseth, goldsmith
- L Haram, farmer
- I C Lund, landscape gardener
- F Hufft, weaver
- J Pettersen, Farmer
- P Trandall, baker
- J Kipperberg, seaman and fisherman
- S Borgesen, bookbinder
- R Brune, boatbuiulder
- F Bodtker, carpenter
- K O Standal, painter
- N Oie, wagonmaker
- R Sandanger, builder
- T Dahle, mechanic and shoemaker
- H Andreasen, farmer
- Rev. E Berg
Early in the 1900s the Norwegians had established a Norwegian School, Norwegian Lutheran Church and Norwegian newspapers in Durban. Durban's major Norwegian ancestors were Abraham Larsen and Jacob Egeland. In the 1890s about 90 families, most from Sunnmøre, went to South Africa and Kwazulu-Natal. After arriving at Port Shepstone, the families were each awarded a plot of land where they could build a house and farm. In 1882 a party of 246 Norwegian immigrants settled in nearby Marburg near Port Shepstone and played a large part in the development of the area. Although a few went back home and others went to Australia, most Norwegians remain in this area. They built a church, the Norwegian Settler's Church, which is still in use. The church also serves as a Norwegian museum displaying things that the Norwegians brought with them from home, for example, bunad (in its broadest sense, a range of both traditional rural garments), tools, kitchen utensils, etc. Norwegian influence is found in place names with names like Oslo Beach and Fredheim.
Norwegians participated in gold-digging in Johannesburg and Norwegian missionaries were amongst the first to established Christianity in Zululand.
Today there are very few who maintained their Norwegian identity. A few years ago potetløp [Note. 1.] was held for costume-clad children on 17 May. There are still Norwegian meeting places such as The Norwegian Hall, the former Norwegian Lutheran Church, St. Olav's Church.
Rolf Larsen, the last surviving Norwegian whale hunter in Durban, was a more recent immigrant..
Note 1. Potetløp is a game where the participants will run a certain distance while each one holding a spoon with a raw potato . During the course must balance the potato securely in his spoon. The first to reach the target without losing potato, wins the race.
- The 1882 Norwegian Emigration to Natal
- They were South Africans
- Norwegian Settlers Association of Marburg with a list of 34 families who went to Marburg in 1882. Wonderful account of the journey etc. AMAZING!!
- A Norwegian Family in South Africa The story of a Norwegian Missionary Daniel Nielsen
It would seem that much of the Swedish presence in South Africa was that of the Missionaries. Any input here would be very welcome!
The Swedish missionaries who went to South Africa were not members of the evangelical, interdenominational Swedish Missionary Society, but rather of the more orthodox and "high-church" Church of Sweden Mission (CSM), which was founded in 1874, and which had the archbishop as its president. The first Swedish missionaries O. Witt and C L Flygare who arrived in South Africa in 1876 went to Schreuder's station at Entumeni to study the Zulu language and customs. They soon split with Scgreuder and opened their own missions in Natal and Zululand. In 1878 the Swedish Home Board established its first mission station, Oscarsberg, at Rourke's Drift. Its first indigenous worker, Joseph Zulu, a refugee from the Zulu royal house, received his training in Sweden and returned to Natal as an evangelist and teacher. He was ordained in 1901 on his 2nd visit to Sweden. In 1902 the CSM began to minister to Zulus in Johannesburg, many of the Lutherans, who had found employment in the Witwatersrand mines. Christianity in South Africa - Richard Elphick
- Laars Anderson was from Gothenburg. Married Clasina HerminanSnyders on 20 March 1803 (daughter of Michiel Snyders. (SAG Volume 1 page 61.
- Nils August Linde wife Binni Elisabeth nee Kihlstedt who went to Natal, South Africa in around 1910.
- Carl Ossian Johnson (1867 - 1949) A Swedish pioneer in the South African fishing and whaling industry. Born in Hjalmseryd parish in Smaland, Sweden, on 15 March 1867.
- Joseph Louis Zadik, 1870 – 1954, Private Geni profile
- Oloff Ohlssen (Hintze) 1845-1930). Swedish emmigrant who came 1882. He integrated into the German community in Lüneburg and adopted the surname Hintze.
Artist Photographer, Commissioner of Oaths. Born and educated in Sweden. Came to South Africa in 1893. Married to Florence Goldman in 1905; has two children. Past Member of Cape Hospital Board and Committee Cape Jewish Orphanage; Past Committee Member, United Hebrew Schools. Postal Address: 80 Adderley Street, Cape Town.
- Anders (Andries) Strockenström arrived at the Cape 2nd Dec 1782 from Stockholm, Sweden Assistant in the employ of H.O.I.K. Magistrate of Graaff-Reinet