Anna Tempo

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Tempo started off working by looking after Henrietta Schreiner’s nephews. She soon converted to Christianity and began helping Schreiner with her welfare work among blacks. She focused on visiting women in prison and hospital, and paid special attention to young girls and women who had turned to prostitution. She wanted to save these girls both morally and spiritually.

Schreiner died in 1912, and Tempo moved to Ireland until 1914 when she returned to Cape Town. She continued her work with the young girls, and set up a house for them in Napier Street. During World War One many young men came into Cape Town when their ships docked at Table Bay. Tempo decided to work with them as well, and convinced many not to go home with the women.

In 1922 the public opinion of her changed and she was forced to leave the house and lived under very poor conditions. In 1924 the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) began to help her and she was able to move into another house and have two cottages in Jordaan Street. Further support from the DRC and the Dutch Reformed Mission Church meant she was able to open a house for the girls called ‘Nannie House’. The house looked after people sent there by the police, health clinics and by the Child Life Protection Society. Most of the women were stranded and homeless, and after a while in the house were able to go into domestic work or some other kind of work that was found for them.

In 1937 the King George Coronation Medal was awarded to Tempo in recognition of the work she had done with prostitutes in Cape Town. Tempo died in 1946, and Nannie House was moved from Cape Town to Athlone in 1960 as a result of the Group Areas Act.

• E.J. Verwey (ed), New dictionary of South African biography. Pretoria, 1995, pp. 243-44

Last updated : 08-Aug-2017

This article was produced by South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011

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