Haven for South Africans in Rotterdam

The Koningskerk in Rotterdam is a Dutch protestant church situated at the Koningshaven (King’s Harbour). All South Africans visiting South Holland or living there will feel at home in this Dutch congregation with its strong ties to South Africa.

Rotterdam is Europe’s gateway to the world; therefore the Koningskerk is a haven for anyone visiting the Rotterdam harbour. The King Church is the home port for especially the cosmopolitan neighbourhoods Feyenoord, de Kop van Zuid and the Noordereiland (North Island). Furthermore, the church is the home port for the inland water carriage. Inland waterways are mainly used by family businesses traversing the large European rivers with their cargo. Domestic Dutch rivers annually transport more or less 320 million tons abroad.

The Koningshaven is a port in Rotterdam that separates Noordereiland from the district Feyenoord on the island Ijsselmonde. There are two bridges over the Koningshaven: the Koninginnebrug (Queens’ bridge) and De Hef. De Hef is a mothballed railway bridge designed by the engineer Peter Joosting; it was put in commission on 31 October 1927. The bridge is named after the lever mechanism (hefboom) that lifted the bridge so shipping traffic could pass. Today De Hef is a monument reminding people of the place where trains left downtown Rotterdam. Since 24 September 1993 trains enter the city centre of Rotterdam through the Willemsspoortunnel.

From the front door of the Koningskerk the movable part of the Erasmus Bridge over the Nieuwe Maas River is visible. The imposing Erasmus Bridge lies on the extension of the Koningshaven.

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The minister of the Koningskerk, Rev. Louis Krüger, was born in Upington, South Africa. Louis is known as a schipperspredikant (minister for people in the shipping industry) and is attached to the Binnenvaartpastoraat (chaplaincy for sailors on the inland waterways) of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands. He has contact with more than 500 skippers at the various ports on the Rhine. Louis studied theology as well as Afrikaans and Dutch at Stellenbosch University. In 1984 he moved to the Netherlands where he became a pastor of the Reformed Church in the congregations Nieuwlande and Sliedrecht. Since 1994 he is working at the Koningskerk in Rotterdam Feyenoord.

Louis is also a well-known Afrikaans author who campaigns for the promotion of Afrikaans in the Netherlands. His first novel, Die skerpskutter (1981), was awarded the Eugene Marais prize. ‘n Basis oorkant die grens (1984) deals with the war in the former Rhodesia. His books Donkerboskind, Son op die water, Gevaarlike land and Herinnering aan Agnes was translated into Dutch. His novel Wederkoms – die lewe en geskiedenis van Jannes Hoop was published by Human & Rousseau in 2009.

The Koningskerk’s ties with South Africa were also strengthened by the implementation of the Ikusasa project. The Zulu word Ikusasa means future. The foundation is actively involved in helping the needy of Johannesburg in Soweto. The foundation provides assistance to especially children in need in order to enable them to attend school.

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