Nicole Van Zyl

© Copyright 2015 by Nicole Van Zyl


Drawing of "missionary preaching to the African natives."

This is a story about my great, great, great, great grandparents and their hazardous journey to Linyanti to set up a mission station among the Mokololo tribe.This is their story.

In 1860,a tragedy occurred in Linyanti,Central Africa,when a group of missionaries and their families journeyed to Linyanti to set up a mission station among the Mokololo tribe.

Among them were, Holloway Helmore, his wife Anne and their children, as well as Roger Price and his wife Isabella Holloway.  Helmore and his family returned to England due to ill health.

Holloway and Anne had suffered greatly in Africa. Anne's eyes would get sore at times that she could hardly see,Holloway suffered from fever and malaria and their children also broke out with fever. It was then decided that they would return to England to visit their family.
David Livingstone was assigned by the London Missionary Society to set up a mission station at Linyanti,at the last minute he changed his mind and Holloway Helmore and Roger Price were sent instead.

Holloway and Anne had registered their eldest daughters,Olive and Anne Sophia (known throughout her life as Annie) in a boarding school for girls,run by Holloway's sister,Emily.
After much debate,it was decided to take their daughter,Lizzie with them to Africa, as they did not want to risk further chest infections in cold,damp England. They registered Emily in the same boarding school where her elder sisters were.

In 1859,Holloway and Anne with four of their children,Lizzie,Willie,Selina and Henry set sail for Africa to embark on their journey to Linyanti.

It was a hazardous journey right from the start with the wagons breaking down and the party being stranded with no water for themselves and their oxen. At times Holloway even walked for 38 miles in search of water. The party were also plagued by mosquitoes and maleria. On route,Isabella Price gave birth to a baby girl.

The chief of the Mokololo tribe,Chief Sekeletu,was not happy about the party's arrival at Linyanti. He felt safe with Livingstone because Livingston's father-in-law was Robert Moffat, a well known missionary from England,now living in Africa.He felt that Robert was a protection against his enemy.

"Has Livingstone arrived yet?" Was the first thing Holloway asked when he arrived in Linyanti.The answer was no.Livingstone had agreed to meet the missionary party in Linyanti to introduce them to the Mokololo tribe but he never showed up.

Chief Sekeletu was in his house when the party arrived,probably preparing poison,which he mixed in the beer and ox which he sent to welcome the party.

Before long,the party became ill and one by one died,including Price's five month old baby,the Helmore's driver,two of the Helmore's children,Selina and little Henry and Anne Helmore.
Holloway recovered rapidly and he journeyed to Chief Sekeletu's house to get information about David Livingstone.When he returned,he collapsed,and shortly afterwards,died.

It is believed that he was poisoned by Chief Sekeketu.

Roger and Isabella Price decided to abandon the mission and return to England with the two surviving Hellmore children,now orphans,Willie and Lizzie.On route,Isabella suddenly became ill and died.Roger buried her under a tree.The Chief sent men to exhume Isabella's remains and cut off her face to take it back to Sekeletu,as proof that she was dead.

They robbed the survivors of food and their belongings.It is still unclear why they did this.On arrival in Cape Town,they ran into Robert Moffat,who,ironically, was on his way to meet the party at Linyanti,unaware of the tragedy that had taken place.

It is still unclear whether the party were poisoned or whether they died of fever.But the locals and the descendants of the missionaries still believe that they were poisoned.There is a lot of evidence that points to this fact.
Livingstone is largely to blame for this tragedy.  Had he kept his promise and met the missionary party at Linyanti, things might have turned out differently.

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