Hayes family of South Africa

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Blue Press

Number 19
28 December 2002

Family newsletter of the Hayes family of Pretoria. This electronic version, put on our web site, and sent as PDF files to people whose e-mail addresses we have, is fuller than the print version.

Study, teaching and travel in the Balkans

In the five years since we sent Blue Press Number 18 in 1997, the highlights have been mostly travelling in the Balkans.

Bridget with our dog Ariel
Our daughter Bridget has been studying theology at the University of Athens since 1997, and graduated on 10 Dec 2002. Her main interest is liturgy and liturgical theology.

Steve travelled to Greece and Bulgaria in 1998, mainly for research on his doctoral thesis topic Orthodox Mission Methods. He completed the thesis soon after his return and graduated with a DTh In Missiology in September 1998.

In September 1999 Steve took early retirement from the University of South Africa, and began doing freelance writing, editing and teaching. By far the most interesting assignment was teaching for the Easter term at the Orthodox Theological Seminary at Shen Vlash, near Durres in Albania.

In May 2000 Val and Steve went to Greece to visit Bridget, and spent Holy Week in Athens, and then in Bright Week went on a tour of north-western Greece, to give Bridget a change from the concrete jungle of Athens. Steve went on to Albania to teach missiology at the seminary and Val accompanied him for the first week, but then had to return to work.

At the end of 2001 we began some alterations and additions to the house in Kilner Park, Pretoria, where we have lived for the last 19 years. Unfortunately we were taken for a ride by a crooked builder who wrecked the house without building anything usable, and then vanished with the money. All our books and things were packed in the garage to be brought out when the building was complete, but have had to stay there, because the kitchen cupboards are half-built, the floors were untiled, etc.

The Church in Albania

Teaching at the Seminary of the Resurrection in Albania was an amazing experience.

Ikon studio in Tirana, Albania

In 1967 Albania had become the world’s first and only atheist state. All churches and mosques were closed, and any form of religious expression, in public or in private, was illegal. When religious freedom was restored in 1991 the church had to start again from scratch. There were no bishops, and the few surviving priests had been in jail.

Archbishop Anastasios, who had taught mission at the University of Athens, was sent to oversee the revival. After nine years 115 priests and deacons had been ordained and 250 church buildings had been restored or built from scratch, and there was a seminary with 60 students. Coming from South Africa, where after 90 years no local clergy had been ordained, and there was no seminary and no monasteries, it was truly wonderful.

Rebuilt church at Shen Vlash, Albania

For a more detailed report, see our web pages:

Greece & Bulgaria 1998
Greece 2000
Albania and the Holy Mountain

But now it looks as though things are changing in South Africa!

Mission in South Africa

In 2001 we got a new bishop: Metropolitan Seraphim of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Johannesburg and Pretoria. He has come in like a whirlwind, full of new ideas.

Since the beginning of 2002 we have been worshipping just about every Sunday in Mamelodi, a former black township, where there was a congregation of people who wanted to be Orthodox.

Mamelodi congregation
after Sunday worship

We meet in a school classroom for the Hours and Readers Service, and occasionally take as many people as we can fit into our Toyota Venture to English services at the Church of St Nicholas in Brixton, Johannesburg.

In July 2002 we were joined by Fr Athanasios Akunda, a young Kenyan missionary priest, who had just finished his studies in America. He is staying in Soshanguve on the north-western side of the City of Tshwane, and has been teaching the congregation there. In November and December 2002 many people were baptised in Soshanguve, including two people from our congregation at Mamelodi.

Most of the people were formerly members of the African Orthodox Episcopal Church, an African Independent Church (AIC), whose members decided they wanted to unite with the Orthodox Church.

Tonsure of readers
Left to right: Val Hayes,
Reader Stephen Hayes,
HE Metropolitan Seraphim,
Reader Simon Thamaga

On 4 December, after one of the baptisms, Steve was tonsured as a Reader by Metropolitan Seraphim together with Simon Thamaga, the fomer bishop of the African Orthodox Episcopal Church.

For more details, see our Orthodox Mission web pages at:

Orthodox Mission Pages

Family News

Some of the family news has already been mentioned earlier in connection with our travels. Here is some of the home news.


Val had been working at Chloorkop, a 50 km journey each way. In 1998 she changed her job to a security firm in Brooklyn, which is only 8 km from home. When she started, it was known as Astron/Bexforce, then became Sentry Security, and now, after being taken over by an international group, is Tyco/ADT, where she is the financial manager for Pretoria.


Simon has completed his fine arts course at Pretoria Technikon, and will graduate in April. He has been working part-time at a book shop.

Some of his paintings have been published in a book on Pretoria artists.

You can see some of his work on his web pages:

Simon's page


Jethro matriculated in 1999 at the Pretoria Technical High School with a distinction in Motor Mechanics. Despite being one of the top students he was unable to get an apprenticeship. He experienced what a lot of black youngsters have for so many years that of having of having done well but being passed over for selection because of the colour of his skin. He has for the past 2 years been training with the Tshwane Municipality training school for a pittance but will hopefully be taking his trade test in a couple of months. He has however gained a lot of experience there as he has worked on a great variety of vehicles. He earns his spending money during his year-end vac by working at ADT putting up signboards and delivering letters to clients.


In addition to the other activities mentioned elsewhere, Steve has been working on various projects.

One is a database of African Independent Churches (AICs) and African church leaders. In October 2002 he went to Rome for a conference on Rescuing the memory of our peoples attended by 40 missiologists, church historians and archivists from about 20 countries to discuss similar projects, including the Dictionary of African Christian Biography, which links with Steve’s database.

See the following web pages for more details:

Rescuing the memory of our peoples
Dictionary of African Christian Biography

A couple of years earlier, in November 2000, Steve visited Zimbabwe in connection with a publishing project – a series of books on African initiatives in Christian mission, where Steve is preparing one of the books for publication.

Some people in Zimbabwe were complaining about the bad state of the country, where the political situation is causing economic decline. That may be so, but conditions in Zimbabwe were far better than those in Albania. In Zimbabwe the infrastructure was still intact. The roads were in good condition, and vegetable sellers in Harare were selling locally-grown food. In Albania, roads were almost impassable, and vegetables sold on the pavements of Tirana were imported from Greece and Romania. In northern Greece we saw bakkie-loads of tomatoes and other vegetables heading for the Albanian border.

That’s not to say Zimbabwe doesn’t have problems, but people often speak as though Africa is going down the tubes – yet some places in Europe are worse off.

The Hoxha regime in Albania was pretty nasty, and their military paranoia (exemplified by concrete bunkers dotting the hillsides) made Magnus Malan’s "total onslaught" war psychosis in South Africa look amateur. There was no freedom of religion and little freedom of anything else, but at least the policy of autarky meant the country was self-sufficient in food. No more.

Everywhere there are vandalised and looted factories. Greenhouses were smashed and fruit trees chopped down, because people didn’t want "communist" orchards. And so the bakkies bring food over the borders, paid for by those who used to work in the factories now working as migrant workers elsewhere. In some ways, Zimbabwe is still a paradise by comparison.

Extended family

We’ve continued our interest in family history, and Steve was hoping to have more time to do research into that after retiring, but retirement proved busier than we thought. Nevertheless, we have exchanged letters with family in many different places, and have had some visits from family members.

Aitchison & Hayes families.
Back: John Aitchison, Val Hayes,
James Aitchison, Jethro Hayes,
Simon Hayes.
Front: Lucy Aitchison,
Marge Growdon & Jenny Aitchison.

In December 2000 we went to KwaZulu Natal, and met Val’s sister Elaine Machin in Pinetown, and her cousin Arthur Gammage, also saw the Terblanche cousins, whom we had not seen for a long time.

We met Steve’s Aitchison cousins in Pietermaritzburg. We had not seen them for a long time time either. Not all of them were there, however, as several of their children are living and working in London.

A welcome visit, early in 2002, was from Val’s cousin Enid Ellis (nee Gammage), who lives in Namibia with her husband Justin and children Hugh and Bronwen. We had not seen her for 10 years, since we had visited them in Namibia in 1991.

Val Hayes and Enid Ellis

Occasionally our studies of family history bring us into contact with relatives we have not met before.

Nita Harris (born Crighton) lives in California, but recently came to see her brother who was ill in Johannesburg. We were able to meet halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria at a restaurant that spans the freeway. Nita was with her son Roger Harris, and nephew Walter Crighton.

Val’s great-grandmother, Mary Frances Crighton, who married Frederick Vincent Greene, was the sister of Nita’s grandfather, Daniel Crighton. Their parents were William John Crighton and Anna MacLeod.

Val Hayes, Walter Crighton,
Nita Harris & Roger Harris.
December 2002

Old friends

Occasionally old friends make contact out of the blue, when one has not heard from them for years. Steve recently heard from an old school friend, John Bolton, now living in England.

Two other friends, not heard from since the 1960s, were Michael Preston and Stephen Gawe. Steve met Michael Preston when working for an auditing firm, E.R. Syfret & Company, in a vac job, and found he lived nearby in Fairmount, Johannesburg.

Steve met Stephen Gawe at student conferences in the 1960s, and was best man at his wedding at Oxford in 1967 when both were studying in England. Sadly, his wife Tozie had died a couple of years before.

Steve (Hayes) returned to South Africa after completing his studies at Durham University, but Stephen Gawe could not, as he had left South Africa on a one-way exit permit, and could only return after the advent of democratic government in 1994.

Stephen Hayes & Stephen Gawe

Stephen Gawe is now working with the South African Embassy in Denmark.

Some of these friends have been able to make contact through Internet searches – one of the useful things about having a web page that it enables one to meet new friends and re-establish links with old ones.

Have you ever thought that someone may be looking for you? Have a look at:

Who? Me?

Thanks to all our friends and relations who have kept in touch, and sent us your letters and Christmas cards etc. Sorry it has been so long since some of you heard from us.


If you have an e-mail address or web page, please let us know. For our latest contact info, see:


It has our latest addresses.

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Steve Hayes
E-mail: hayesstw@yahoo.com
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PO Box 7648
0001 South Africa

Created: 28 December 2002
Updated: 28 December 2002

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