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Reverend JD Kestell

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 22 APRIL

UPDATED: 22/04/2020

22 April 1891, Newton Home opened by Reverend JD Kestell.
22 April 1980, 1200 city pupils join nationwide boycott of schools.

A Willingness to Serve
John Daniel Kestell’s life was characterised by a willingness to serve. The irresolute were inspired by the magnetic influence he had over them. For his service he gained the affectionate and honorary title of Vader (Father) Kestell, and was awarded three honorary doctorates. He died on Sunday 9 February 1941 and is buried by the side of his trusted friends, Marthinus Theunis Steyn and Christiaan de Wet, at the foot of the National Women’s Monument in Bloemfontein.

PT-Reverend_JD_Kestell-1885-2

Reverend J.D. Kestell

It was not only the Newton Home that Kestell founded. He also opened various Kestell Kinderhuise (orphanages) after the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902.

These Orphanages all around South Africa were begun by Kestell to give the hundreds of Boer orphans a home after their parents had died in the Concentration Camps or were killed during the Anglo-Boer War. His only son, Charles Kestell, born in Kimberley on 15 October 1884, died of enteric fever in the Tin Town Prisoner of War camp (Ladysmith) on 14 December 1901.

The Kimberley Newton Home had its humble beginnings at a meeting of the Dutch Reformed Church in Kimberley on 5 May 1890. The ladies of the congregation, in conjunction with a commission of the church, approached the De Beers Company to donate a plot of land. This plot of land was located at the current Lawson Street in Kimberley and was to be used to erect a house for needy children.

On 22 April 1891 the ‘Newton Home’ was officially opened with five children. They were: Georgina Elizabeth Kirkham, Margaret Josephine Kirkham, Willie Kirkham, William Benjamin Leë en Joseph Leë.

During August 1898, Rev PJ de Vaal laid the cornerstone of an improved “Newton Home” as the first house was deemed inadequate.

During 1921 and 1937 the Home was extended to become a double-storey house on the corner of Lawson and Reservoir Streets. In 1968 this house was demolished. The cornerstone of this House was kept and can still be seen at Caritas Head Office.

Newton Home’s name was changed to Kestell Children’s Home (after Dr and Ms Kestell who provided valuable services to the Home). The Home was extended some more and the opening took place as follows:
14 October 1961 – section for toddlers
18 July 1964 – section for girls
25 April 1970 – section for boys

At the beginning of 2013, because of budgetary constraints and sustainability, the children that were housed at the Kimberley Kestell Children’s Home, were moved to the Jannie Roux Campus in Barkly West.

Kestell Children’s Home was closed and the buildings were renovated and converted into office buildings, a therapy centre, and conference and accommodation facilities.

These buildings now house Caritas Community Focus NPC.
(Some of above supplied by Fransjohan Pretorius).

22 April 1891, Newton Home opened by Reverend JD Kestell.
22 April 1980, 1200 city pupils join nationwide boycott of schools.

DID YOU KNOW

John Daniel Kestell (February 15, 1854-February 9, 1941) was a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC), Bible translator, and Afrikaner cultural leader. His mother was an Afrikaner and his father an 1820 settler from Devonshire, England.

He was born in Bloemfontein. Having studied at the universities of Stellenbosch and Utrecht in the Netherlands, Kestell was admitted as a minister of the DRC in 1881. The next year he was called to Kimberley and in 1894 to Harrismith in the Orange Free State. Here he completely identified himself with the Afrikaner cause. At the outbreak of the South African War of 1899-1902, he accompanied the Harrismith Commando as field chaplain, soon becoming the trusted counselor to President M.T. Steyn and General Christian de Wet. Together this spiritual, political and military triumvirate remained in the field to the bitter end in 1902. Steyn once said that, to him personally, Kestell was worth more than a commando during the war. Kestell recorded his war experiences in Met de Boeren-commando’s, published in Amsterdam in 1903. The English translation was titled: Through shot and flame, London (1903). In 1909 he and co-recorder Dirk van Velden, published the minutes of the peace negotiations of the war. (See bibliography for the English edition.) In 1920 his biography of a beloved friend appeared in Cape Town under the title: Christiaan de Wet.

As a gentle yet steadfast moderator of the DRC in the Orange Free State he prevented the schism in the church that threatened with the Afrikaner rebellion of 1914-15. For over a year he was the editor of De Kerbode, the mouthpiece of the DRC of South Africa, before taking up the rectorship of the Grey University College in 1920. He resigned after seven years to pay full attention to the translation of the Bible into Afrikaans, a task which he and a few colleagues had taken up in 1924. The complete translation appeared in 1933.

The depression of the thirties created a serious poor-white question. Believing that a nation saves itself only through action, Kestell established the Reddingsdaadbond, a successful movement that probably marked his greatest moment.

Kestell’s life was characterized by a willingness to serve. The irresolute were inspired by the magnetic influence he had over them. For his service he gained the affectionate and honorary title of Vader (Father) Kestell, and was awarded three honorary doctorates. He is buried by the side of his trusted friends, M.T. Steyn and Christiaan de Wet, at the foot of the National Women’s Monument in Bloemfontein. (From Fransjohan Pretorius).

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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