To kick off this first phase of my ministry in the town of Uitenhage, where I have been posted as a Phase One probationer for 2009, I thought I'd share some information about the town itself.
My acknowledgements to Wikipedia and The Uitenhage Blog for the following information:
Jacob Abraham Uitenhage de Mist, after whom the town of Uitenhage was named, was a Dutch statesman who lived from 20 April 1749 – 3 August 1823. He was Head of State of the National Assembly of the Batavian Republic from 17 April - 1 May 1797 and Commissioner-General of the Cape Colony during the interregnum from 21 February 1803 - 25 September 1804 in accordance with the short-lived Treaty of Amiens. The Cape Colony had been under Dutch control from 1652. In 1795 it was occupied by the British following the Battle of Muizenberg, but under the final terms of peace between Great Britain, France and the Netherlands – then the Batavian Republic – in 1802, the colony was restored to the Batavian Republic
The Batavian States-General resolved that the executive and legislative authority of the Cape Colony should be committed to a governor and a council of four members, of whom one at least should be by birth or long residence a colonist. The governor was to be also commander of the troops. The high court of justice was to be independent of the other branches of the government, and was to consist of a president and six members, all of them versed in the law. Trade with the possessions of the Batavian Rebublic everywhere was to be subject only to a very small duty. With these principles as a basis, the task of drawing up a plan of administration was entrusted to de Mist, an advocate of high standing and a member of the council for the Asiatic possessions and establishments.
The document prepared by de Mist gave such satisfaction that he was sent out to receive the colony from the English, install the Dutch officials, and make such regulations as he might find necessary. A very able military officer and man of high moral worth – Lieutenant-General Jan Willem Janssens – was appointed governor and was also commander-in-chief of the garrison for which three thousand one hundred and fifty soldiers were provided, and councillors and judges were selected.
de Mist reached Cape Town on the 23rd of December 1802, and next morning went to reside in the Castle of Good Hope. On the 30th, General Dundas issued a proclamation absolving the inhabitants of the colony from the oath of allegiance to His Britannic Majesty (George III) on and after the 1st of January 1803. After a temporary withdrawal of the order to hand over control, at sunset on the evening of Sunday the 20th of February 1803 the English guards were relieved by Dutch soldiers, and next morning the Batavian flag was hoisted on the castle.
After making himself acquainted with the condition of the county, de Mist announced that it would be his duty to prepare a charter which, however, would require ratification by the States-General.
In February 1804, de Mist issued a proclamation which formed several wards of the colony into a new district, and Uitenhage was founded on 25 April 1804 by landdrost (district magistrate) Jacob Glen Cuyler, and named in honour of the Cape's Commissioner-General Jacob Abraham Uitenhage de Mist by the Dutch Cape Colony governor, Jan Willem Janssens.
In July 1804 a proclamation was published by de Mist declaring that all religious societies that worshipped an Almighty Being were to enjoy equal protection under the law, and that no civil privileges were to be attached to any creed. This ordinance also provided for the establishment of schools under control of the government and not belonging to any religious body. Another ordinance of De Mist had reference to marriage and ended the need to travel to Cape Town to obtain a marriage licence and be married by a clergyman. The ordinance permitted couples to be married by a landdrost and two heemraden. However, when the Cape Colony was reoccupied by the British in 1806 at the end of the interregnum, the provisions of the proclamation were annulled and not re-established until 1820. These freedoms today form an integral part of the South African Constitution.
The pronunciation of the town's name depends on whether your home language is English or Afrikaans. The Afrikaans pronunciation, “ay-tin-haach-uh” (the “ch” as in “loch”), favours the original Dutch, while English speakers mostly pronounce it “yoo-tin-haig”.
Uitenhage formed from part of the district of Graaff-Reinet (shortly after its short-lived secession), and in 1877 it became a municipality and remained so until 1994 when it was incorporated with Port Elizabeth and Despatch into the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality.
Located only 35 km from Port Elizabeth, today Uitenhage is a thriving industrial and commercial town, and is home to Volkswagen of South Africa (Pty) Ltd, one of three motor manufacturers in the Eastern Cape. Tyre manufacturer Goodyear also has a large factory in Uitenhage, and the two form the nucleus of an automotive supplier park in which various suppliers manufacture automotive components as well as offering various automotive-related services.
The surrounding area also encompasses the pristine Groendal Wilderness Area, that provides a host of eco-outdoor activities. The Addo Elephant National Park is also nearby.
Many notable people hail from Uitenhage, including anti-apartheid campaigner Rev Allan Hendrickse, Olympic pole-vaulter Okkert Brits, former Proteas cricketer Mornantau Hayward, and the first black female in the world to climb Mount Everest, Deshun Deysel.
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