Reverend Zacarias Mendes Café was born in the village of Nganzi-Cabinda, in the “Bambala” ethnic group, on May 15, 1909. This is the date his father told him, though there is some doubt. This is also the date on his birth certificate (as mentioned in his “Carta Reveladora” of 1968). He was the son of Café Nzau (also written Zau) and of Mambo T´Chincodo, an Mbala (or Bambala) family.
On his father’s side he was descended from Chief Diva Nzau (Dika Ntundu). On his mother’s side, he comes from a wife of that chief, Louço Languvulu (Rosa). Both were from Nganzi and had sons and daughters. His ethnic bakground is Bambala, of the Bauoio clan, from the area of Ibinda, in the south of Cabinda. His language was Iyuyo of the Mayombes of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo).
Mendes Café had a Christian wedding with D. Dina Chivela, on May 6, 1937. The civil ceremony happened in 1952, also in Cabinda, when they had four children: Mambo, Margarida, Ruth, and Cândido.
He joined the Cabinda Mission on April 14, 1921, where he did his education. He was a great evangelist in all the Fútila area of Cabinda, according to Evangelist João Batista Brás Ngunvu (speaking as he was nearing 100 years old).
Zacarias Mendes Café was made an assistant pastor in the Cabinda Mission when he and young Dina Chivela were married. Dina Chivela was born August 9, 1920, among the people of Mbembe N´gungo, Tando Zinze/Cabinda, some 32 kilometers from Cabinda city.
Zacarias Mendes Café was ordained on December 27, 1936, and assigned as pastor of the church at Ntendekele-Sede in Cabinda, from 1951 to 1959.
From 1958 to 1964, the mission of Mateus Zacarias Stober was led by missionaries of the Canadian Baptist Foreign Mission Board. There, Café showed himself to be highly dedicated to the Lord’s service, as a master teacher interpreting the Bible and as an extraordinary preacher.
Retired bishop D. Emílio J.M. de Carvalho considered him a hero and prophet for Cabinda.
Mendes Café had to flee Cabinda for Zaire (formerly Belgian Congo, now the Democratic Republic of Congo) from December 23, 1963, to July 3, 1967. Political conflicts had led to persecution and other sufferings, sacrifices that that he bore. God’s servant looked for work to support his family.
He worked in the mission station of Sana-Bata with a missionary called Keith. This was during 1964 at Matadi (former Zaire). While in exile, he was not getting any support from his church in Cabinda nor from the missionaries he had been working with.
Mr. Kimball, a missionary who visited him when he was at Sana-Bata, said of Mendes Café that he always remembers him as a good person, a good worker, a good father and husband, and regrets that he had to go back to his own land to see his children grow up and work together with them to expand the Kingdom and to continue his ministry in his land Cabinda.
He died on May 28, 1969, in Kimpese hospital at 60 years of age. His body rests in the cemetery of Kimpese Mission.
João Mombo Bueia
Carvalho, Emílio J. M. (United Methodist bishop), “História da vida do Rev. Zacarias Mendes Café” (1909-1969), self-published, printed by NÚCLEO- Centro de Publicações Cristãs, Lda, Queluz, Portugal, 2005.
[Note that this biography uses personal notes and private family comments from April 23, 1963, prepared in honor of the peoples of the Bambalas.]
- Buza, Filemon (Pastor of the Igreja Evangélica de Angola, former Missão Evangélica de Angola, and general secretary). By telephone, in Luanda on March 21, 2020.
- Café, Ruth Rosa Mendes (second daughter of Rev. Zacarias Mendes Café). In person, on March 22, 2020, in Benguela, Angola.
This biography, received in 2021, was written by João Mombo Bueia, a pastor in the Evangelical Church of Angola (Igreja Evangélica de Angola). For twelve years, he has worked as a missionary in Angola in Huila, Benguela, Bié, and Cuanza Sul provinces among the following ethnic groups: Ovanyaneka-Ovamwila (Huila), Ovimbundu-Kamuyanha (Benguela and Bié) and Ngoya (Cuanza Sul). He holds a BTh from the Higher Institute of Evangelical Theology in Lubango (Instituto Superior de Teologia Evangélica no Lubango, ISTEL) and a licenciate in history from UGN Angola. He is studying in the MA in theology program at ISTEL, focusing on missiology. Presently he serves as pastor and leader of the local church in Sumbe and as Cuanza Sul provincial representative for the Christian churches associated with CICA. This biography was written under the supervision of Sindia Foster, instructor at ISTEL and missionary to Mozambique with Serving in Mission (SIM).