Contact Us
24 May 2023
Increasing the volume and reach of the Stemme Van Clarkson
The town of Clarkson in the Eastern Cape was established in 1839 and has a rich history that is intertwined with the Moravian Church and a sense of community. The history of Clarkson is at the heart of a new documentary, Stemme Van Clarkson, which is based on the book of the same name. The town in the Eastern Cape is 60 km west of Humansdorp. First a Moravian Mission village, Clarkson was established by Bishop Hans Peter Hallbeck and it was named after Thomas Clarkson who helped abolish the slave-trade.
Prof Vivienne Lawack and Jonathan Lawack reminisce about
life in Clarkson in the documentary about the town

In 2021, Professor Vivienne Lawack, with friends and family, published Stemme Van Clarkson. It is a book that captures many of the voices of the people in the small town of Clarkson. In the documentary, the authors share what it means to grow up in a Moravian Missionary. Prof Lawack is the DVC: Academic at the University of the Western Cape, but few know that she is from Clarkson - a town that has over the years produced excellent scholars and societal leaders.

The book was born out of an informal discussion between Prof Lawack and the residents and a need to tell their stories for the benefit of future generations.

She said: “We received a very positive response from the community after the publishing of the book and the screening of the documentary. The hope is that other communities are inspired and empowered to tell their stories and not wait for anyone to come and tell their stories.”

Jonathan Lawack, who contributed to the book and the documentary, is proud of the success of the project. He said: “I get nostalgic when I think of how we were raised and even how we raised our children. The school, the community and the church were the three pillars of our missionary town. It is just a pity that we lost many Christian schools and that our communities are now so separated and divided.”

Prof Lawack explained: “Both the book and documentary film are to inspire ‘Clarksonners’ to have pride in their beautiful and rich heritage and to empower the Clarkson community to do things for themselves and not to wait for the government or broader Moravian Church. It appears from recent projects that the Clarksonners are heeding this clarion call.”

The cover of the Stemme Van Clarkson book
The Moravian Church in Clarkson