Sunday, February 14, 2010

Norwegian Emigration to SA

Immigrants from countries other than Britain also chose South Africa as their destination.

In 1879, the year of the Anglo-Zulu War, a group of 47 Norwegians left Bergen to establish a colony on an atoll in the Indian Ocean, Aldabra. The Debora Expedition, as the venture is known, didn’t work out as planned; some of its members remained in Madagascar and others decided to settle in the British Colony of Natal. They were the first Norwegian immigrants to settle at Port Natal (later called Durban).

You can read everything there is to know about the fascinating Debora Expedition at Also visit companion pages at

Until about 1880, America had been the favoured destination of Norwegian emigrants, but reports sent back by Norwegian missionaries in South Africa encouraged interest, particularly in the Colony of Natal. The farming community around Aalesund, Norway, made contact with the Natal Immigration Agent, Walter Peace, in London and a scheme for government-assisted immigration was set in place.

This resulted in 32 families sailing first to England from Norway in July 1880, then continuing on to Natal on C.H.M.S. Lapland. They were settled on land between the Umzimkulu and Izotsha rivers on the south coast of Natal.

Although some of these immigrants found conditions in Natal disappointing, later returning to Norway, many remained to form the nucleus of a thriving community. Descendants of the Marburg settlers, as they are generally called, still live in Natal. So do descendants of early Norwegian missionaries to the Colony. Norwegian Settlers Association of Marburg

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