Valdezia Mission Station – National Monument
Situated in the Soutpansberg District to the south-east of Louis Trichardt is Valdezia Mission Station, an establishment that has come to represent a portion of South Africa's Heritage. Valdezia Mission Station in Limpopo has certainly done much to benefit the local population and uplift the community, while providing insight into the past.
The Mission Station was established in 1875 by Ernst Creux and Henri Bertroud, both of them theological students. In 1874 they received permission to buy Klipfontein farm from Mr. Scot J. Watt and this is where they built the mission station. Valdezia Mission Station, its gardens and everyday functioning was cared for by Alexis Thomas, a missionary and artisan. The entire Mission Station area included Old Valdezia School, Elim Mission Church, Elim Hospital, Lemana College, Elim Mill, the dam and other historical structures.
Large numbers of Vatsonga people began moving into the area from the country of Mozambique. This great migration is chiefly attributed to Mfecane-Difaqane upheavals directed from Zululand. Additionally there was an ongoing power struggle amongst Vatsonga chief Soshangane’s own sons. The Swiss Mission went on to convert several of the Vatsonga people to Christianity. Shisozwele and his family were the first to convert. Interestingly Shisowele’s daughter, Shiambane became the grandmother of the Marivate family, a very well-known family name. As the missionaries at the station carried on the teaching, the congregation began increasing and so a church was built. Soon the Mission Station was a developmental hub in the area. The mission house was constructed in 1884 and the church two years later in 1886.
It was in 1888 that Valdezia primary school was set-up. Several well-recognized members of South African society were taught at the school, such as T. Mandlate (minister at a Maputo church), D. Marivate (became a school teacher, composer and poet), C. Marivate (now a parliamentarian) and Dr Manghezi (today at Development Bank of Southern Africa). The Swiss missionaries certainly left their mark on an area that previously had no hospitals, churches or education establishments. In 1999 Valdezia Mission Station was declared a national monument.