Whats in a name ?

I have always thought that the best part of Clarens, the part that makes it different and special from other villages or dorps in the Eastern Free State is its green heart. Not many villages in South Africa have this focal point .Many people visitors as well as Clarenites are not aware that this hub is in fact called “The Wilson Mosia park”…………however I am getting ahead of myself.

With the establishment of the village in 1912 the original layout included a square at the top of the main street, on the map its called Market square, so one can only assume that the forefathers of the village had envisaged this area as the economic centre, unlike today however the road travelled straight through it and the park on either side was either used or supposed to be used for markets, I have found no evidence in researching the history of Clarens that confirms or debunks this theory. What we do know is that for many years the square was used to play tennis on with a very active tennis club being established, a club that is still active to this day. Market square was given a makeover in 1961 to what you see today and was to change names on the 9th of November 1962 when the then town council decided that they would invite the then State President CR Swart to re-unveil the Naauwpoort monument in the middle of the newly re-furbished square.

The monument had been originally unveiled on Ararat in 1895 near to the actual site were 5 Transvaal Burghers under the command of Paul Kruger had been attacked and killed by Sotho soldiers. Market square was then re-named Presidents square in honour of CR Swart’s visit and many residents still believe that its called that, not so In 1996 a council meeting was held and a unanimous decision was taken by that council that the square should be re-named to reflect the new South Africa and the name Wilson Mosia Park was accepted and therefore the square (as many of us still call it) changed name.

So who was this Wilson Mosia and how was it that the heart of Clarens was named after him, was he an intellectual, politician, freedom fighter ? No Mr Mosia was an ordinary man who was born in the area and who had been a dedicated employee of the municipality for 35 years. Wilson according to a number of older residents as well as people that worked with him was a real gentleman who knew the village better than most and who could be relied upon to get the job done. The square was again given a makeover by concerned individuals who felt that it was falling into disrepair (not that they made a vast improvement) in 2004 and the sign indicating that the square was called Wilson Mosia park as well as a white stinkwood tree that had been planted by the Chinese Consol General in 1999 “got lost”

I would love to see a combined initiative by locals and the Dihlabeng municipality to erect a plinth with a plaque on the square giving its correct name as well as its history. Even a little TLC from the local municipality to keep it clean and tidy would be a step in the right direction.

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