African teacher and evangelist. Born in a tribal village in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), he and his mother were captured, when he was five years old, by a raiding party of Matabele warriors from south of the Zambezi River and carried hundreds of miles south into slavery. An attempt to escape resulted in his separation from his mother. He knew only that his father’s name was Sigabasa.
Several years later, when the British overthrew the power of the Matabele and declared all slaves free, Mayinza entered the employ of some of the European settlers, one of whom urged him to go to the mission and become “God’s own boy.” After this man died, Jim went to Solusi Mission, thirsting for an education, but not particularly for the white man’s religion.
The kindness extended to him by F. B. Armitage and other missionaries resulted in his conversion. In 1901 he was baptized, the first convert at Solusi. When W. H. Anderson made a trip through Northern Rhodesia, at Mayinza’s request he made inquiries for Sigabasa, but without success. When the Anderson family went north of the Zambezi in 1905 to establish Rusangu Mission, Mayinza remained as a teacher at Solusi. After Anderson had located Mayinza’s parents, he sent for Mayinza. Thus Mayinza was reunited with his family. To be near them he joined the staff at Rusangu Mission.
After teaching and preaching for several years, he returned to Solusi for further training, then became an evangelist in Southern Rhodesia. He had a great burden to sell books to the Africans, but he found it difficult to convince the European workers that this could be done. There was a £10 license fee involved. Selling books without a permit resulted in his imprisonment and a warning that the offense must not be repeated. When Mayinza decided that he would sell his possessions to pay for a permit, the missionaries secured one for him. To their surprise, he proved to be a successful colporteur, and in this way he paved the way for hundreds of Africans who have followed his example in this type of missionary endeavor.
For many years Mayinza held evangelistic meetings and revivals, built up churches, and attended camp meetings. He was a preacher of great power, and his converts numbered more than 1,000–a remarkable figure. Worn out by his many long journeys, his ceaseless efforts, and exposure to the elements, he was at length retired. He spent the remainder of his life near his home village in Northern Rhodesia.
This article is reprinted with permission from the Seventh-Day Adventist Encyclopedia, copyright © by Review and Herald Publishing Association, 55 West Oak Ridge Drive, Hagerstown, Maryland 21740, 800-765-6955.