The Norwegian Church and museum, Fort Nongqayi and Norwegian Cemetary

There is a lot of traces of norwegians in the Eshowe/Uthungulu area, especially from missionaries and mission work. Today, the Norwegian Church is located at Fort Nongqayi, just outide of Eshowe town, where it is part of a fort and museum. The area also holds a butterfly park, a basket museum a curio shop and a restaurant; Adam's Outpost. The fort itself is a museum of the Zulu history and the Zulu wars.

The Norwegian Church has an exhibition on the history of the Norwegian mission in the area; about Reverend Schroeder from Sogndal who entered into the city around 1850 and spent the rest of life to christian the Zulu people. The exhibition is mostly posters explaining the story about Reverend Schroeder and his work, but also some items are exhibited; Schroeders priest outfit, his bible and travel coffin, a traditional Norwegian outfit "bunad" and some antique items. The church is sometimes used for wedding ceremonies, even Norwegians coming to Eshowe to get married in this church. This is something that has to be arranged through the museum management.

Bishop Schroeder, who had already completed missionary stints in China, arrived in the Eshowe area in 1854 and applied to the Zulu monarch King Mpande for permission to build a mission in the Ntumeni area, 25 km west of Eshowe.  In 1861 Reverend Ommund Oftebro received permission to build a second mission in what is now the King Dinizulu area of Eshowe. Oftebro is buried in the Norwegian cemetery.

There is a story about the first Zulu that was christianed by Norwegian Bishop Schroeder; that he was killed by his chief because he was serving "two Gods". The body of this Zulu warrior disappeared after he was killed and he became a martyr. In his memory there has been raised a big cross outside Eshowe town; Martyrs Cross, also called Nqamazela Cross. Here is the story: The first Zulu Christian martyr, Nqamazela Khanyile, was put to death in 1878 after refusing to obey King Mpande’s order to become a conscript in the Zulu army.  After protesting that he was a “soldier of the Lord” and therefore unable to serve any other commander, Khanyile was given an ultimatum – renounce his religious beliefs or be put to death.  He chose the latter and the soldiers attempted to kill him by firing squad, but the musket failed in the first attempt.  The second attempt was more successful and the soldiers left his body on the hillside and departed.  That night there was a massive thunder storm and in the morning, so the story goes, there was no sign of the corpse. The 4-metre-high stone cross on the crest of the hill where Khanyile was killed is visible from kilometres away, and a smaller cross below marks the exact spot.

The last picture in this gallery is a photo of the Norwegian Mission Church, belonging to "Norsk Misjonsselskap". It has been abandoned for many years and is in a very bad shape. Windows are broken and it is a not something the Norwegians should be proud of leaving behind.

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