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Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

versión On-line ISSN 2412-4265
versión impresa ISSN 1017-0499


BUFFEL, Olehile. A journey of the people of Bethany marked by dispossession, struggle for return of land and continued impoverishment: A case study of land reform that has not yet reduced poverty. Studia Hist. Ecc. [online]. 2015, vol.41, n.2, pp.131-144. ISSN 2412-4265.

This article investigates the history of the farm Bethany in the Free State (a province of South Africa), which was the first mission station of the Berlin Mission Society. It traces its history from the time when Adam Kok II allocated the farm to the Mission Society for the purpose of spreading the gospel to the indigenous people, and to its dispossession through the forced removals of 1939 and later in the 1960s. It argues that the history of the community is a journey from a community that was economically sustainable before the forced removal, to a journey of impoverishment caused by dispossession. After successful restitution of the farm in 1998, the community continues to be impoverished. The article argues for a restitution process that reduces and eliminates poverty and it challenges the Department of Land Affairs to partner with communities that have returned to their ancestral lands. In this partnership the weak and inadequate post-settlement support must be reviewed and improved in view of ensuring that livelihoods are enhanced and poverty reduced, if not eliminated. The article also challenges the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which still owns part of the farm through its Property Management Committee, to equally partner with the community members of whom the majority are members of the Lutheran Church.

Palabras clave : Bethany; Free State; Berlin Mission society; land dispossession; restitution; ancestral land; Evangelical Lutheran Church.

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