1887

n South African Journal of Cultural History - Religion and recreation in the Merebank concentration camp

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Abstract


Die Britse konsentrasiekampe wat tydens die Anglo-Boereoorlog (1899-1902) opgerig is om die derduisende wit en swart burgerlikes te huisves wat deur die verskroeide-aardebeleid haweloos gelaat is, word gewoonlik met lyding en dood geassosieer. Te midde van die oorlogsverskrikking het die kampbewoners egter gepoog om so normaal as wat omstandighede dit toegelaat het, met hul lewens aan te gaan. In hierdie artikel word 'n kritiese ontleding gedoen van twee aspekte van kamplewe, naamlik godsdienstige bedrywighede en ontspanningsaktiwiteite, en wel soos dit gemanifesteer het in die Merebank-konsentrasiekamp net suid van Durban. Hoewel hierdie kamp eers in September 1901 tot stand gebring is, het dit gou die grootste kamp vir blankes geword, en die laaste inwoners is eers in Desember 1902 gerepatrieer. Slegs twee predikante het voltyds na die geestelike behoeftes van die kampbewoners omgesien, maar hul onvermoeide arbeid - gerugsteun deur lekepredikers en ander helpers - het 'n belangrike rol gespeel in die instandhouding van die mense se moreel. Hoewel kosmaak en die aankantmaak van hul kampakkommodasie 'n groot deel van die vroue en ouer kinders se tyd in beslag geneem het, en die kinders ook skool gegaan het, was daar wel ook tyd vir ontspanning. Die kampsuperintendent, HM Bousfield, het die kamp besonder goed geadministreer en sy bes gedoen om die lot van die Boereburgerlikes te verlig. Gevolglik kon hulle die nabygeleë strande en selfs Durban se sakesentrum besoek. Sport is beoefen en 'n verskeidenheid kulturele aktiwiteite is aangemoedig. Konstruktiewe vryetydsbesteding het die geestesgesondheid van die kampinwoners bevorder.

The British concentration camps that were established during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) to accommodate the thousands of white and black civilians that were left destitute by the scorched earth policy, are usually associated with suffering and death. However, amidst the horrors of war, the camp inmates tried their best to live as normally as circumstances allowed. In this article a critical analysis is made of two aspects regarding camp life, namely religion and recreation, as manifested in the Merebank Concentration Camp just south of Durban. Although this camp was established only in September 1901, it soon became the largest camp for whites, and the last internees were repatriated only in December 1902. Only two clergymen worked full-time to look after the spiritual needs of the inmates, but their unflagging labour - supported by lay preachers and other assistants - played an important role in maintaining the morale in the camp. Although cooking and other household chores kept the women and older children very busy, and the children also had to attend school, there was ample time left for recreation. The Camp Superintendent, HM Bousfield, administered the camp very well, and did his best to relieve the plight of the Boer civilians. They were allowed to visit the nearby beaches, as well as shops in Durban. Sport was practised, and various cultural activities were encouraged. Constructive recreation promoted spiritual and psychological well-being in the camp.

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/content/culture/16/2/EJC30570
2002-11-01
2016-12-03
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