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Makhetha, Fortescue
c. 1920 to 1991
Church of the Province of Southern Africa (Anglican)
South Africa / Lesotho

Fortescue Makhetha is unique among his peers in the ministry because he served with great distinction in two dioceses. He is also the only African clergyman from the Orange Free State in South Africa to be elevated to the episcopacy in the Anglican Church--a remarkable fact when one considers that his family was not originally Anglican by denomination. His father was a minister in the African Baptist Church in Harrismith. [1]

Makhetha, whose name elderly parishioners in the rural areas used to mispronounce as "Forty-six," trained as a teacher at Modderpoort. He converted to Anglicanism during his student days. He was already a boarding master and teacher at Modderpoort School when he offered himself for ordination in the church. He trained at St. Peter's College. He was made deacon in 1948 and became a priest in 1949. His curacy was at St. Francis Kroonstad Mission in 1948 and 1949.

Makhetha had a very successful career. His ministry straddled the two dioceses of Basutoland and Bloemfontein. His first mission station as a priest was at Leribe Mission in Basutoland (1949-1951). He then left for Thaba Nchu to become the first African director of the mission (1951-1960). During this time he was installed as a canon of the cathedral (1954-1960). He then returned to Basutoland in 1960, where he became priest-in-charge of St. James Mission in Maseru in the new diocese of Basutoland. He was also appointed archdeacon for Northern Basutoland in the same year. Seven years later, he was elected bishop-suffragan of the diocese of Lesotho. [2] In his later years (from 1978 onwards) he returned to South Africa to be assistant bishop of Bloemfontein (the first black person to hold that honor) and rector of St. Patrick's, Mangaung as well as archdeacon for Modderpoort.

Makhetha later retired to his home in Maseru. He continued to help in the diocese of Lesotho from time to time. He died in 1991.

Abraham Lieta


Notes:

1. From interview with Fr. Jeremiah Ramolehe at Welkom on July 18, 2001.
2. From the Crockford Clerical Directory, 1971 edition.



This story, submitted in January 2004, was written by Fr. Abraham Mojalefa Lieta of the School of Theology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, while researching the role of the African clergy in the Anglican diocese of Bloemfontein (1884-1963). Dr. Philippe Denis, professor of the History of Christianity at the University of KwaZulu-Natal is the DACB liaison coordinator and writing supervisor.