Jonas Goduka succeeded Nehemiah Tile as leader of the Tembu National Church. He later changed the name to the African Native Mission Church.
Goduka was born of the Ngqika tribe near King William’s Town. Not long afterwards his parents moved to Fort Beaufort where he grew up. In 1869 he was married according to Christian rites.
Goduka wanted to be a teacher and in 1874 he started a two-year course at Healdtown. He taught at various places: Somerset East, Zeleni, near King William’s town, and Tini’s Location. Goduka continued studying and in 1879 he obtained the Certificate of Competency at the government elementary examinations. (MS 14 787).
At the end of that year he was sent to Tyinira, Fingoland, as a teacher but at the same time began to work as a candidate for the ministry of the Methodist Church. In 1885 he was ordained in Durban by the Rev. Richard Ridgill who, at the time, was president of the Methodist Conference. He served first at Queenstown and then, from 1890, at Herschel in the Eastern Cape.
In 1892, when Nehemiah Tile died, Goduka was asked to take over as leader of the Tembu National Church, even though he was a Ngqika. He resigned voluntarily from the Methodist Church to do so.
Goduka traveled widely. In 1892, when Mokone started the Ethiopian Church, Goduka was among those who expressed interest in what he was doing. Goduka drew up a statement of faith based on the spiritual truths: belief in the inspiration of the Bible, in the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ as Saviour, repentance of sinners and redemption, justification, and ‘generally the doctrine of forgiveness and brotherly love, faith, hope and charity’ (MS 14 787).
Goduka was not accepted by all Tile’s followers, especially when in 1904 he wanted to be recognized as leader for life and to be succeeded by his son when he died. When Jonas Goduka died, on 12 May 1914, his son Enoch became the next leader of the African Church.
J. A. Millard
MS 14 787. Cory Library, Grahamstown.
Minutes of the South African Conference of the Methodist Church 1885, 1891.
Sundkler, B. Bantu prophets in South Africa. London: Oxford University Press, 1961.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Malihambe - Let the Word Spread, copyright © 1999, by J. A. Millard, Unisa Press, Pretoria, South Africa. All rights reserved.
Encyclopaedia Britannica (complete article): Ethiopianism