Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The History of Tiger Kloof

The story of Tiger Kloof starts in Bechuanaland with the three dikgosi (Khama III, Bathoen I and Kgosi Sebele) in the company of the missionary WC Willoughby going to see Queen Victoria and Lord Chamberlain in England. They discussed the subject of a good school for their children in their territory with the missionary, Willoughby. Attempts to establish the school in Bechuanaland failed because of a number of reasons, one of these being conflict over land ownership where the school would be constructed. The LMS purchased a farm about 10km south of Vryburg where the school was built in 1904. The Rev. Willoughby was the first headmaster of the school between 1904 and 1914. From 1914 until 1945, the school’s principal was Rev Arthur Haile who oversaw the institution expansion to become a centre for elementary, higher and specialised education with a teachers’ training college, a Bible school for the training of ministers, and an industrial school incorporating domestic science, spinning and weaving, masonry, carpentry, leatherwork and tailoring. As Chiepe puts it, Tiger Kloof was not a school, but a conglomeration of schools. In 1956 the LMS withdrew from Tiger Kloof when the Rev. Aubrey Lewis was principal of the school. This was in protest against the Bantu Education Act, which was designed to ensure that black South Africans could not be anything else but “hewers of wood and drawers of water”. In 1963 several of the buildings were burned down and the school was eventually closed, with the area being declared a “black spot” in terms of the Group Areas Act. However in 1991 a meeting of Old Tigers was initiated by the Rev. Joe Wing, a former LMS missionary and a minister of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA), to consider reopening Tiger Kloof. The following year a Board of Directors was formed and David Matthews, the former principal of Maru a Pula School in Gaborone, was appointed to facilitate and guide the rebirth of the Institution. Together with Ruth Mompati, Archibald Mogwe and others, the reconstruction of Tiger Kloof began. Since then, the school has been expanding every year.

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