Khoi Camp at Genadendal

Today the reconstructed Khoi Camp at Genadendal attracts visitors from far and wide.

In the early 19th century the missionaries encouraged the Khoi inhabitants of Genadendal to forsake their nomadic lifestyle, settle permanently on the mission station, build permanent clay brick houses, cultivate the land and thus enjoying an enriched Christian education. The material used to make these mats come from a plant called Cyperus Textilis or Cape Papyrus which grows all along the banks of the water streams in the Western Cape. During summer time the reeds are cut and stored in the museum attic to dry. The choice of this building material can be traced back centuries ago, for various reasons: It has got a tough and supple fibre and the mats made from it can be rolled up and transported on the backs of oxen. After a beehive shaped framework had been constructed, the mats were thrown over it. In winter the reeds will swell and provide a watertight shelter, while in summer it will shrink and gives good ventilation. Traditionally the reeds were pierced and woven together with the same material which was platted into string. This, however is a very difficult art and today the museum is using hessian string instead.

Scroll to Top