Nalayazane Nossita Manhique began attending the church services at Bethel Mission (Njatigue), Manjacaze, soon after the Nazarene missionaries arrived there in 1922. She first came with two others and her hair was mudded red denoting that she was especially committed to the worship of the ancestral spirits. She came forward to pray and repented. Nalayazane washed her head, purchased a headcloth, a blouse and a long dress,–the customary attire for Christian ladies,–at the store in exchange for some peanuts. The change in her appearance was so great that the missionary, Pearl Jenkins, did not recognize her in church the following Sunday.
Several months later there was loud screaming from the far end of the mission village. Missionary Charles Jenkins ran to investigate and found the new convert, Nalayazane, being beaten unmercifully by three men and was bruised from head to foot. The explanation was that she had been engaged to a man a few years previously. At that time he was unable to pay the full lovola (bridal price) but had recently completed the payment. It was now the duty of these three men, her relatives, to deliver her in marriage to this man to whom she had been promised. Nalayazane had identified herself as a Christian and refused to marry this nonChristian man. The three men now insisted that the missionary drive her out of the mission premises, but instead he ordered them to stop beating her. Jenkins pointed out that she was free to go if she wished but was not to be forced to leave. The men were very angry and threatened to burn down the mission buildings. As they were built of poles, reeds, grass and mud this would not have been very difficult to accomplish during the night. Then the men said they would take the case to the government administrator in the town of Manjacaze about two and a half miles away.
Missionary Jenkins realized that this would be a test case. As he saddled the mule he prayed earnestly, and he reached the government office first. The administrator received him kindly and listened to the case. He promised the missionary that, if the girl would state the reason why she did not wish to be married to this man and would do it in the presence of her father, she would not be forced to go. Special prayer was made that Nalayazane, who had dared to break the tribal and family tradition by washing her hair, would have the courage and faith in God to carry through with this matter. The missionaries knew that, as this was the first such case, it would set a precedent for the future work of the Lord in that area.
The day she was summoned Nalayazane returned happy and free. The administrator had ordered her father to return the lovola that had been paid for her and told him that he would be reimbursed when she was married to a man of her own choosing. However, having broken the custom and law of her people, she was ostracized by her family and went to live with the Christians on the mission. With her the Gaza Girls’ Home was started. After a period of instruction and spiritual growth Nalayazane was baptized and became a church member. She took the Christian name Nossita at that time. For seven years Nossita worked at the mission and then married a pastor.
At the camp meeting in 1936 a special offering was given to begin work at Mangorro out in the wilderness and the following year Pastor Samson and Nossita went to begin the church there where they were very successful. It was a new experience for them to hear lions roaring at night much too near for comfort. There was little rainfall in that area and crops often failed. Soon after that the greatest famine in recent memory struck that area. Many people died on the paths looking for food. For a while Pastor Samson and Nossita carried on but later moved to a place of service nearer the Ebenezer Mission.
In 1961 it was reported that Nossita was faithfully engaged in the work of the Lord, building His church, and that many years later she moved to Mpumalanga in South Africa.
Paul S. Dayhoff
- Samuel Young, God’s Unfailing Faithfulness: Life of Charles S. Jenkins (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, 1961), 33-35. F. Chism, O. Lovelace & C. Jenkins, The Lord’s Doing: Nazarene Missionary Achievements in South Africa (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, 1941), 158-9, 197-98. Vicente Mbanze, letter, October 4, l996.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Africa Nazarene Mosaic: Inspiring Accounts of Living Faith, first edition, (Florida, Gauteng, South Africa: Africa Nazarene Publications, 2002), copyright © 2001, by Paul S. Dayhoff. All rights reserved.