Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.

Soga, Tiyo (A)

South Africa

Tiyo Soga

First ordained Bantu-speaking South African.

His father was a high counselor in the Ngqika branch of the Xhosa people; his mother was a convert to Christianity. After he himself was trained at United Presbyterian Church of Scotland mission schools in the Cape Colony, he attended a seminary in Glasgow, where he was baptized in 1848. Afterwards he did evangelical work among the Xhosa, returning to Scotland for further study in 1851. He was ordained in 1856. The following year he married a Scottish woman. He then founded a successful mission station among his own people. Although his health declined badly during the 1860s, he managed to open a new station among the Gcaleka Xhosa of chief SARILI three years before he died.

His translations of the Four Gospels and the first part of Pilgrims’s Progress were among the earliest in Xhosa.

Mark R. Lipschutz and R. Kent Rasmussen


Dictionary of South African Biography, 4 vols. Cape Town, Durban: Human Sciences Research Council, 1968-81.

Chalmers, John Aitken. Tiyo Soga. 2nd edition. Edinburgh: A. Elliott, 1878.

Williams, D. [Article on Tiyo Soga]. In Black Leaders in Southern African History, ed. Christopher Saunders. London: Heinemann, 1979.

This article is reproduced, with permission, from Dictionary of African Historical Biography, 2nd edition, copyright © 1986, by Mark R. Lipschutz and R. Kent Rasmussen, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California. All rights reserved.