Mangena Maake Mokone was a South African pioneer of the Ethiopian Church movement. He was born at Bokgaga, Gauteng, South Africa. After ten years of teaching and lay preaching, he entered the Methodist ministry and immediately became involved in the educational life of black people through the Kilnerton School, where he also served as principal. Because of alleged racial discrimination in the Methodist Church, Mokone resigned in 1892 and formed the first Ethiopian Church. His pan-African dream included uniting his church with other discontented black Christians throughout Africa. He was joined by other Methodist preachers, and soon the growth of the new church was a cause of concern for other denominations. Links with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in the United States were established when Bishop Henry M. Turner visited South Africa to organize two conferences and ordain a number of new ministers.
Though overlooked as supreme office bearer when the Ethiopian Church formally became a district of the AME Church, Mokone refused to resign because of his determination to prove that black people could work together. Mokone is significant for being the first South African to initiate a church whose motto was “Africa for the Africans” and to challenge openly the racism of European missionaries, and he was one of the first black Christians to articulate a missionary strategy for black solidarity. Indirectly, he sowed the seeds of African nationalism and black theology.
Daryl M. Balia
Daryl M. Balia, Black Methodists and White Supremacy in South Africa (1991); J. M. Chirenje, Ethiopianism and Afro-Americansm in Southern Africa, 1883-1916 (1978); E. Roux, Time Longer than Rope (1948); Donald C. Veysie, The Wesleyan Methodist Church in the Transvaal, 1823-1903 (1969).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.