Jacobus Oosthuysen 1971


Jacobus Christiaan Christoffel Oosthuysen was born on the 24th of November 1890 in the Cathcart district. After having farmed for some years, he decided to enter the ministry. He continued his schooling at Paarl and then went on to receive further education and theological training at Victoria College and the Theological Seminary at Stellenbosch.

In 1917 he was admitted as a minister to the Dutch Reformed Church, and he served the congregations of Brakpan, Indwe and Bethulie successively until 1932, when the General Missionary Commission of the Cape Church sent him as a missionary to the Transkei, where he founded the mission station of Isilimela on the Pondoland coast.

In more than one field the Rev. Mr Oosthuysen has done pioneering work. One of his tasks was to cater to the need for ecclesiastical literature. His translations of the Order of Service and the Summary of the Catechism are in current use. He has compiled a Bybelse Leesboekie which enables speakers of Xhosa to orientate themselves in Afrikaans, and which at the same time serves as an elementary text-book in Xhosa.

His most noteworthy contribution is the compilation of the Incwadi Yamaculo - the Xhosa Hymnal, the first edition of which appeared in 1940 and the ninth in 1966. This work forms the basis of the larger Hosanna Hymnal which has already been published in South Sotho and Tswana and which will shortly be available in Xhosa, Zulu and Pedi.

He was editor and publisher of the first Church newspaper in Xhosa for members of the Dutch Reformed Church. He also carried out the greater part of the translation of the Murray Children's Bible into Xhosa.

The Rev. Mr Oosthuysen was the founder of the Decoligny Theological School, where Xhosa-speaking ministers and preachers of the Dutch Reformed Bantu Church are trained. In the face of almost overwhelming initial oppo­sition the school has prospered and enjoys a sound reputation.

In the foundation and maintenance of hospitals, too, the Rev. Mr Oosthuysen was well to the fore. Through his efforts, the hospital at Isilimela, and later a second at Rietvlei, became the basis of the Dutch Reformed Church's hospitalisation network in the Transkei and the Ciskei. His work led to the opening of the Efata School for the Blind and Deaf at Decoligny, near Umtata. His influence reaches far further than the boundaries of his own Church. In the field of medical mission work he has served the whole Xhosa community.

The Rev. Mr Oosthuysen's work as a missionary was rewarded in 1951 by the founding of the Dutch Reformed Bantu Church of South Africa at East London. On this occasion he was chosen as Moderator of the first Synod of the young native church and in this capacity, he guided the Synods until 1959.

The Council, the Senate and the Convocation of the University of Port Elizabeth regard it as a privilege to be able to honour Rev. J. C. Oosthuysen in this way.