Andrew Abraham Stockenstrom Le Fleur the First

We are the Rainbow Nation and this includes the Griqua people. Here is their story…..

Subject: Andrew Abraham Stockenstrom Le Fleur the First

To the Griquas, the tombstone which marks the burial place of their great leader and Prophet, Andrew Abraham Stockenstrom Le Fleur the First, is more than a mere grave or a monument to his memory. It is a living symbol of their past and their aspirations as a nation, which they refer to as their “nasielike bloedsgevoelte” (feeling of nationality) and their “geestelike sielsgevoelte” (religious dedication).

Whenever Griquas formally meet- be it a political or cultural meeting or a religious gathering- the deliberations always centre around this man, who led, and is still leading them out of their house of bondage into their own Promised Land and their own kind of freedom.

There are certain hidden Griqua truths which go beyond one’s understanding. Only a Griqua will know what it feels like to be living in a Promised Land, while it means nothing more than a meagre mode of existence of that windswept, barren tract of land formally known as Krantzhoek, but which is revered in their hearts as “Adamslof”- a Song of Praise to Adam (their founder, Adam Kok). Ask any Griqua why he has no desire to move on to greener pastures, and his answer be “Because God called us here through the Kneg (The “Servant of the Lord and the People”, Le Fleur).

The story of Le Fleur goes back years before his birth, when his father, Abraham, served as guide and bodyguard to Sir Andries Stockenstrom, Lieutenant-General of the Eastern Province. According to Griqua legend, Abraham one day saved Stockenstrom’s life while being attacked by a band of Xhosas. Stockenstrom then turned to Abraham and said: “You are a brave man. One day, when you have a son, you must name him after me. Take this five pound note; it must be used to christen the boy. If he turns out to be a coward, you must beat him to death, because a brave man like you does not deserve a coward for a son.”

Abraham Le Fleur eventually married a Miss Annie Reed, and moved on to Herschell in the Free State, where his wife gave birth to a son. Recalling Stockenstrom’s words of many years back, Abraham’s heart was, however, full of doubt, and he named the boy Thomas. Nut when his second son was born on the 2nd of July 1867, God revealed to Abraham that this was the fulfillment of Stockenstrom’s “prophecy”, and he named the boy after himself and Stockenstrom: Andrew (Andries) Abraham Stockenstrom Le Fleur.

The boy grew up in knowledge and understanding, and astounded many leaders of his day with his great wisdom. At the age of twelve, so the legend reads, he settled a dispute among the Pondo’s as whether to side with England or Germany, by answering, in the presence of the generals on both sides: “Not with one or the other. The German Queen is the daughter of the Queen of England. If you give to one, you give to the other, and if you send one, you also send the other. They will not give their blood for you and your people.”

He received his calling from God on the 9th of May, 1889. His father had now moved to Mataliele, and was the Private Secretary to Lady Kok, wife of Adam Kok III, who ruled over the Griquas in Kokstad now that Kok was dead. While looking for his father’s asses for three days in succession and not being able to find them, he suddenly heard a voice calling out of a stone:-

“Andrew, Andrew, Andrew... I am the Lord God speaking to you, Go and gather the dead bones of Adam Kok and call them as one nation, so that they can be my people and I their God. Behold the two asses you are looking for, are just on the other side of this hill. Go and tell your father what I command you to do, and tell him that Lady Kok will die at eight o’clock tomorrow morning. These two signs will open the minds of you and your father, so that you will know that it is the Lord who has spoken to you, and that the word of Ezechiel be fulfilled.”

Andrew found the asses, and a healthy Lady Kok died at eight o’clock sharp on the next morning, the 10th May 1889.

The next step in Le Fleur’s calling was his marriage to Rachel Susanna Kok, the youngest daughter of Adam (Muis) Kok 1V, in 1896, who now lies buried at the Griqua Monument in Krantzhoek.

After the death of Muis Kok, Lady Kok’s successor, the Griquas, now leaderless and in total disarray, chose Le Fleur as their leader, who assumed the title of Paramount Chief. Thus another prophecy was fulfilled.

Le Fleur, after being chosen as Griqua chief, started “collecting the dead bones of Adam Kok.” He traveled the length and breadth of the country, many hundreds of miles on foot, reorganizing the strewn Griqua remnants into a new nation, forming treaties with black nations, and trying to convert other Coloured nations, and trying to convert other Coloured people to the Griqua cause. The many meeting he held soon led to the authorities branding him as an agitator. He was taken to court in Kokstad, accused of causing an uprising, and subsequently sentenced to 14 years hard labour. He was sent to prison in Cape Town on the 5th May 1898 – a mere two years after his wedding day.

That night three angels appeared to him in his cell, and said: “We are the three angels who appeared to Father Abraham when he was about to offer his son on Moria. Fear not, for we are sent by God to lead the way.”

This eventually led to him prophesying that he will walk through the prison doors as a free man on Friday,3rd April 1903 at exactly 3 o’clock, that is ,9 years before his sentence was to expire- a prophesy which was fulfilled to the minute.

After his release, he was held in even greater esteem than before, and many more lost sheep were brought back to the fold. This time he sent the Griqua message to the corners of the country by means of girls’ choirs, who were called Roepers. They travelled many miles on foot, with no shelter and nothing to eat. They are the unsung yet not forgotten Griqua heroes, many of whom are still living at Krantzhoek and elsewhere, still singing in choirs and working towards Griqua unity.

As part of his calling, Le Fleur started organizing great treks from all over the country, and notably Kokstad, Namaqualand and the Orange Free State, first to the Cape Flats, during which time he founded the Griqua Independent Church of South Africa in the Maitland Town Hall on the 6th of April 1920, as an offspring of the Griqua National Church in Kokstad, and eventually to Krantshoek. Not all Griquas moved to Krantshoek, and many of them still form smaller or larger communities in places as far apart as Kimberley and Griqua Town, Kokstad, Namaqualand and the Cape Peninsula.

Le Fleur died in a little house adjacent to his tomb on Robberg on 11th July 1941. The Griqua Monument in Krantzhoek was erected 10th September 1942 in honour of De Fleur and other Griqua leaders. It also commemorates the birthday of Le Fleur’s wife, Rachel, lovingly remembered as “Oumiesies” and honoured as “Kroonmoeder” (“Crown Mother”)

Le Fleur believed his people to be the lost tribe of Israel. For the Griquas of today, Krantzhoek is their land beyond the River Jordan, Robberg their Holy Mount; and the tomb of Le Fleur their everlasting shrine.

This is an extract taken from the speech of Dr Ronnie Belcher, Department of Afrikaans and Nederlands, University of Natal. 8th January 1984