The Two London Society Missionaries, Van der Kemp and his friend Edmond arrived to a very different Cape Town in 1799. A British flag now waved over the Dutch Port; British forces having arrived to secure Cape Town in the wake of the waning of the Dutch Empire during the Napoleonic wars.
On the 13th of June, Ver der Kemp and Edmond crossed the Gamka river, which though it was very broad was also very dry. They sought refuge from the cold winter air at Samuel de Beer’s house, who had just buried his child that same day, yet rejoiced that God was answering his prayers to bring the gospel to indigenous people in South Africa. Van der Kemp and Samuel spoke for hours. Van der Kemp enthusiastically sharing with him the copy of Carey’s “the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens”, the very document that helped inspire the start of the London Missionary Society. Van der Kemp shared his desire to bring the gospel to the Xhosa people dwelling on the eastern border of the Cape colony, a people totally unreached by the gospel. Sadly everyone was as enthusiastic as de Beer. Many discouraged Van der Kemp and Edmond from continuing on their mission. There was great hostility between the Xhosa and the colonial authorities and trekboers (Dutch/Afrikaans Farmers), and the unpredictable condition of the border area made it a dangerous place to be. Eventually Edmond returned to Cape Town from where he set out to India. But van Der Kemp was determined to preach the gospel to the Xhosa. Towards the end of 1799 he made contact with a Xhosa chief by the name of Ngqika, who allowed him to tentatively work among his people.
Van der Kemp lived among the Xhosa for a year, pouring out his life to them, but had no real opportunities to preach the gospel. As the year 1800 grew to a close, renewed outbreaks of hostility broke out, Van der Kemp was discouraged, he had sailed half-way around the world and given so much of himself but wasn’t able to make meaningful contact with the Xhosa; he made his plans to withdraw to Graaff-Reinet.
Before he would leave Van der Kemp had an opportunity to preach to a small group of boys between the ages of 15-19. These young boys sat wrapped in their karosses (a cloak made of animal hide with the hair left on) listening at a distance to Van der Kemp, as he explained the gospel, “There was God in heaven; He created all things, The sun, the moon, the stars. There was one, Sifuba-sibenzi, (The Broad-breasted one), He is the leader of men; Was heralded by a Star; His feet were wounded for us, His hands were pierced for us, His blood was shed for us. ” announced Van der Kemp. One of the boys seemed especially to drink in the words of this strange white man, but neither he nor any of those around would hear the gospel from a missionary for another 15 years.
The name of the young boy was Ntsikana. As he grew he became a renowned singer, dancer and orator as well as a hereditary councillor to the chief Ngqika ....