A Transatlantic Alliance
Mangena Mokone and Charlotte Maxeke—uncle and niece—wanted nothing more than to see South Africa transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. But they chafed under white denominational structures. Joining others who proudly held up the banner of "Ethiopianism" (pp. 8, 14), these two powerful leaders left, respectively, Methodism and Presbyterianism, and joined hands with an African American denomination that had a history uncannily similar to their own.
Mangena Maake Mokone (1851-1931) was born in Sekhukhuneland in what is today the Limpopo Province but was then called the Transvaal. He was a member of the Sotho tribe and the son of Maake, a sub-chief. When the boy was 12, his father was killed in a war against the Swazis. At the age of 16, Mokone left his mother and with a friend went to Durban on the Natal coast, where he found work as a "kitchen boy" in the home of a Wesleyan (British Methodist) lady named Mrs. Steele.
The Wesleyans first came to South Africa in the 1800s as part of the military force that took over the Cape from the Dutch. When the first Methodist missionaries arrived in the early 1800s, they discovered Methodist Societies founded by local Transvaal men who had traveled to Natal or the Cape, where they had been converted and educated.
By the time Mokone went to Durban, it contained many local Methodist lay preachers (Wesleyan local preachers were not ordained) who supported their ministries by working at trades like shop-keeping and farming.
"Rowdy" for God
As he swept Mrs. Steele's bedroom each morning, Mokone saw her Bible, which she read every day. The young man wished he could read, too. Soon he began attending the Aliwal Street Chapel, and he proved himself an excellent pupil at the chapel's night school. ...