The Formation of Queenstown District


By Rev Gcobani G. M. Vika

William Shaw came to South Africa with the British Settlers and settled in Salem   in 1820 and had the obligation to minister to his fellow citizens. Upon his arrival in Grahamstown he became convinced that his call of duty extended beyond just ministering to the Settlers but strongly felt the urge to spread the gospel to the aborigines in the whole country. It was during that time that the grand vision of ‘the chain of mission stations’ stretching from Eastern Cape coast to Delagoa Bay, was mooted. (Mears 1973: 15) This vision was unparalleled in the history of the Mission enterprise according to Gordon Mears (Mears 1973:15)

Butterworth was the first Mission station to be established by Rev William Shaw on the east of the Great Kei river and it served as a springboard for all other mission work on the eastern side of Kei River (Mears 1973: 9).


In 1830, the Paramount Chief of the Tembus, Ngubengcuka sent two men, Ndlambe and Mhata to give a site to Rev R. Haddy who was sent as a Missionary by William Shaw.


Clarkebury lies on the eastern bank of Umgwali river in the magisterial district of Ngcobo. It was named after Dr Adam Clarke, a noted commentator and a strong advocate of Missions (Mears 1973:20).  Minutes of Conference of 1971 reveal that there as from 1972 there were no missionaries stationed within the Clarkebury district (Mears 1973:15). It is worthwhile observing that Clarkebury was characterized as the ‘finest mission field in the Methodist Connexion and it produced outstanding missionaries who served as advisers and friends to the local people’ (Mears 1973:15).

In 1825 Chief Ngubengcuka (commonly known as Vosani) of the Tembu tribe made a solemn promise to William Shaw that he would welcome a missionary in his territory (Mears 1973:20). In 1830, Shaw introduced to Ngubengcuka the Reverend R. Haddy as his future missionary (Lennard A.J. 1930:8, cf Mears 1973:20). Haddy was accompanied by a catechist by the name of J.C.Warner (Lennard A.J. 1930:8).  He was affectionately known as ‘the uncrowned Chief of the Tembus because he had a remarkable ‘knowledge of the local dialect as well as the life and customs (Lennard A.J. 1930:8, cf Mears 1973:20).

It was not long after the station has been established that it suffered attack from Amaficani as the Baca’s were called at the time (Lennard A.J.1930:9). They fled from the wrath of the Zulu King Shaka who chased them away from their territory and they raided Thembuland destroying kraals and taking away women and children (Ibid :9). As part of the intervention strategy, Warner decided to approach Amaficani leadership to solicit the release of women and children from their custody. He was accompanied by another Catechist by the name of Rawlins who made a big mistake of frightening the leadership by firing a gun shot. The missionaries were chased but Mr Warner managed to escape on horseback, leaving behind Mr. Rawlins who was killed instantly. Mr. Rawlins’ body was laid to rest in the local cemetery (Lennard A.J. 1930:10, cf Mears 1973:21).

It occurred that after a similar raid, a wounded Baca man was found lying in the dongas nearby the mission station and was taken to the mission house at the instruction of Mr Warner. At the mission house this wounded man received nursing care until he fully recovered. Later the man was escorted by three men through the Tembuland until he reached his home territory. Warner gave him a loaf bread to cater for his long journey.  Incidentally, the man was so surprised by this kind treat that he resolved not to eat that loaf of bread but took it to Ncapayi his Chief to demonstrate how he had been well received by the missionary causing Ncapayi to make a call for a missionary in his territory amongst the Amabaca (. Shawbury and Osborn were then established as a result of this incident. In 1841 Mr Warner was transferred from Clarkebury to start a new mission at Imvani amongst the Tembus residing in that area. Later he was moved to Haslop Hills and to Lesseyton which was a training centre for ministers.

In 1833 Rev. W.J. Davis succeeded Haddy and upon his arrival the first permanent church was built (Mears 1973:21). The mission work in Clarkebury was frequently frustrated by tribal wars resulting in depression on the part of the missionaries. In the face of such challenges, Rev. Davis attested,

Under all these trials God graciously sustained our minds, so that we were a wonder to each other when we beheld each other’s composure of spirit and often times joy of heart amidst outward trials and difficulties. Essentially was this the case with our dear wives, who proved themselves under the dispensation “helpmeets” by strengthening our hands and encouraging us amidst our numerous dangers.

As part of re-enforcement, the Reverend Peter Hargreaves (commonly known as Hagile amongst the Africans) was placed in charge of Clarkebury and remained there for twenty-four years (Mears 1973:21). From its establishment in 1875, Clarkebury Institution became a prominent centre of learning and instruction and Hargreaves played a significant role. During his tenure, Hargreaves played a meaningful role in promoting peace and stability amongst the chiefs and in particular, he befriended Chief Ngangelizwe, son of Chief Mtirara, who was the head of the Thembu family. In summary, the mission work in Clarkebury was a resounding success producing leaders of outstanding caliber, such as Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, Dr A. B. Xuma hailing from Manzana location in n Ngcobo, Jotham Mvusi who later became the chairman of the Clarkebury district and President of Conference in 1973.  Furthermore, it may wise to mention that Charles Pamla, the first black Minister to be accepted and ordained into the Ministry as well as Walter Jijana who was also educated and taught in his alma mater, Clarkebury Institution.  It may just be worthwhile to take note of the following list of ministers who were stationed in Clarkebury (Lennard A.J. 1930:19-20);



  • 1830-1833 Richard Haddy
  • 1833-1837 William J. Davis
  • 1837-1839 Vacant
  • 1939- 1845 P. Gladwin
  • 1855-1857 Vacant
  • 1857-1881 Peter Hargreaves
  • 1881-1882 William S. Davis
  • 1882-1885 Theolphilus Chubb
  • 1882-1883 William M. Douglas (Chairman’s Assistant)
  • 1882-1898 Henry W. Davis (Education Dept)
  • 1883-1886 William Cliff (Circuit Minister)
  • 1886-1895 William S. Davis
  • 1895-1899 Thomas Chalker
  • 1899-1924 Arthur J. Lennard
  • 1907-1908 Geo H. Thomas (Chairman’s Assistant)
  • 1908-1910 William Kidman (Chairman’s Assistant)
  • 1910-1911 John C. Littlewood (Chairman’s Assistant)
  • 1911-1916 Walter Hewitt (Chairman’s Assistant)
  • 1924 Cecil C. Harris

Native (sic)

  • 1868-1870 Johannes Mahonga
  • 1876                 William Sigenu (remained at Qokolweni although appointed to Clarkebury).
  • 1885-1886 John Ntikinca
  • 1901-1904 Samuel Nohe
  • 1904-1909 John B. Yekele
  • 1909-1915 David Maliza
  • 1915-1918 Samuel Mzamo
  • 1918-1919 Alexander Giwu
  • 1919-1923 Fletcher Nomvete
  • 1923-1928 Isaac Ngozwana
  • 1928 – Samuel Sekeleni

On a sad note the Methodist Church of Southern Africa was banned in the former Transkei by the Homeland leader, the late Chief K. D. Matanzima for at least ten years.

When the Rev Jotham Mvusi left the position of Chairman of the district he was succeeded by the Rev Ferrier Hulme Tobela Fikeni and who was later replaced by the Bishop Don Doran Dabula. And Bishop Dabula was later succeeded upon his retirement by Bishop Abel Mnaba, the current figure.


Buntingville lies just about 20 km outside Mthatha in the Clarkebury. It falls under the Pondoland region, which was known as Chief Faku’s territory. Faku together with his counselors invited missionaries to live amongst their tribe. In 1830 the Rev W.B. Boyce was appointed to establish the mission station in Buntingville. At the time of commencing his ministry in Buntingville, Boyce was not married, and so he was accompanied by Mr Tainton and his wife from Mt Coke (Mears 1973:29).  Rev Boyce was also instrumental in the preparation of the publication of the whole Bible in Xhosa (Mears 1973:30). However the glory was taken by the Rev J. Appleyard based in Mt Coke at the Wesleyan Press in 1859, and he was recorded as having said, “we have now the entire scriptures in the Kaffir (sic) language. To God be all the praise” (Mears 1973:30).  





Shawbury lies on the banks of the Tsitsa river, a distance of about 70 km from Mthatha within walking range to the Tsitsa falls. The name was coined in honour of William Shaw whose impeccable leadership had contributed to the prosperity of the Christian Mission in the Clarkebury district.


But, Shawbury was not part of Shaw’s Mission Plan. W.H. Garner was the first minister appointed to serve in that station. Rev Jenkins reported from Buntingville that Chief Ncapayi of Amabaca tribe made numerous calls for a Missionary amongst his own people. To demonstrate his commitment he went as far as sending three messengers to Grahamstown carrying a gift of two elephant tusks (Mears 1973: 36).

The mission work in Shawbury was frustrated by the tribal wars to the point that the evangelist Richard Hulley was invited to serve in the reconstruction of the station and he was able to win the souls of the people to the extent that a cottage and a chapel was built, and William Shaw on his visit was so impressed with the work.  Shawbury Institution benefited from the wealth of experience of its principal Mrs E. Hobden who spent many years there. It became one of the best training centres for girls in the whole of South Africa.







The Mission work in Osborn amongst the Amabaca was established by the same Evangelist, Richard Hulley who had done sterling work in both Clarkebury and Shawbury.  Charles White built the first brick church and did all the carpentry work himself. He stayed there for seventeen years stretching from 1864-1881. During the ceremony of the official opening of the church a significant number of young Baca men were converted and later gave assistance to Rev White in spreading the gospel amongst the Amabaca. More work in terms of building a big church was done during the tenure of Rev T.W. Pollock (1882-1890). This was followed by the Rev R.P. Matterson who extended educational facilities in the circuit resulting in the steady increase of membership.  The building of more church schools was achieved during the Ministry of Rev Mears. More developmental work was accomplished during the Ministry of the Rev R. Parsley (1933-1938) who became the principal of Osborn secondary school.

The famous Rev Seth Mokitimi became the first African Superintendent of the circuit in 1951.


Palmerton Mission station was named after the Rev W. Palmer to mark his outstanding missionary services.


The Mission work in Palmerton, Emfundisweni and later Ludeke came about as a result of the strong bonds of friendship between Chief Faku of AmaMpondo and the Rev Jenkins who had labored in Buntingville. “The relationship was so unique that there is no other recorded instance in the Methodist history of so intimate an attachment between a missionary and a heathen chief: further, this is the only record of a heathen Chief having taken the initiative in establishing two mission stations. This is a remarkable fact” (Mears 1973:47). Their friendship lasted until the death of Chief Faku in 1867. Chief Victor Poto of Western Pondoland summarized the nature of the attitude of the Pondo Chief towards the missionaries in the following words, Chief Faku received the first missionaries “with open arms and gave them sites, whereon to found mission stations”. Driving this point home he said, “Personally it is my opinion that Chief Faku was so desirous that his people should receive Godly power, Divine Salvation and that Education, which so builds a man as to give him character and wisdom. These three qualities stand out as forming the whole essence of missionary teaching”. (Mears 1973:48).  Mission stations were regarded as “Cities of Refuge”. While Palmerton promised to be “the fairest jewel in the famous chain of stations established under the wise administration of William Shaw”, circumstances changed dramatically with the transfer of Jenkins to Emfundisweni because all the leading families followed him to commence the new work in his new appointment. In no time Palmerton looked like a deserted place and the area suffered from severe moral decay. All efforts to rescue the situation with the posting of experienced evangelists and ministers proved futile. It was with the relentless efforts of Rev Edmunds and his wife the situation improved until he retired in 1940. The circuit was brought under African Superintendency since 1945.   







The Mission work at Emfundisweni came as a result of a letter written by Chief Faku requesting the Wesleyan Missionaries to send a Misisonary next to his Great Place. Rev Jenkins established the mission in 1862 accompanied by his wife. Chief Faku died in 1867 and the following year Rev Jenkins also passed on. Mrs Jenkins resolved to remain in Emfundisweni for she held in high esteem by the Pondos and given a title of being the “Queen of the Pondos”. In 1882 the Rev Peter Hargreaves an experienced Missionary assumed duties in emfundisweni and was once more caught up in tribal wars.



The Mission work at Ludeke was commenced by the Rev Samuel Clark. Whilst he serving in the circuit he also held as prominent position as the General Missionary Secretary, and in 1918 he became the President of Conference. Rev Clark was succeeded by the Rev L.M. Larrington who served for a period of eighteen years. His knowledge of medicine and dentistry brought much relief to the local communities. In 1950 an African Superintendent was appointed to the station.



In 1974 the Mission work was started in the East Griqualand in the place known as Etembeni Mission. Before the erection of the mission station Sunday services were held in the private home of Mr Richard Hulley who had done sterling work in Clarkebury and later in Osborn and these were conducted by Mr Henen. The Rev Charles Pamla was stationed there in 1890 and he remained for nineteen years. The Mission work in this area proved to be very difficult due to the poor response of the local people who had delved themselves into drinking and other similar sorts of evils to the extent that Rev Pamla’s manse was invaded at night by people who wanted to cause harm to him due his outspoken nature.




The role played by traditional leaders in opening the doors for the missionaries should be applauded. As community leaders communities looked up to their leaders to give them direction in as far as their own development is concerned. In this paper we note that the missionary work in the Clarkebury district was made easier by the close co-operation between the traditional leaders and the missionaries and William Shaw worked hard to facilitate this process. Chief David Dalindyebo mentioned that the Royal Line of Tembu Chiefs from Chief Ngubengcuka down to Chief Jongilizwe, were all members of the Wesleyan Methodist Church (Dalindyebo: 1930:6).  Dalindyebo also noted that;

Many young students of Clarkebury have heard the call to the Ministry and they have entered the Ministry. Many of the sons of the Chiefs were educated at Clarkebury, and I count myself fortunate being numbered among these.


Furthermore Dalindyebo goes on to say,

The Missionaries were so successful in their efforts to win souls for Christ in Tembuland that a special Native Ministry was needed, and Lesseyton was made a Training Centre for Native Ministers. The conversion of Chief like Dalindyebo, Falo Mgudlwa, and others mark the progress of Missions in Tembuland.


This link between the Chiefs and the Missionaries should be celebrated as we look back into the history of Methodism and charting the way forward. In South Africa, there are various pieces of legislation being development that impact tremendously on the role and function of traditional in the reconstruction of our society. It is doubtful if the church has demonstrated any interest in this particular field. I am tempted to say that given the role that the Chief played in shaping our history, it does not augur very well to sit back and recline into the coziness of the Sanctuary when the Royal Family is struggling to carve its niche in the contemporary South Africa.



Dr Alfred Bitini Xuma was born on the 8 March 1893 at Manzana village in the Magisterial district of Ngcobo not very far from Clarkebury. His parents belonged to the Wesleyan Church. He joined the Clarkebury institution in 1907 when the Rev Arthur J. Lennard and Mr George Underwood were Governor and Headmaster respectively. He remained there until 1911 when he completed his P.T. 3. He recalls two memorable messages from Rev Lennard. The first one relates to a sermon he preached in one of the evening services on the text,”Owe no man anything”. The second one was during a school closing ceremony in which he exhorted students to go back home and assist their parents. (Xuma : 1930: 22). Dr Xuma also recalls the wise teachings of the late Booker T. Washington who laid emphasis on “How to live” and “How to serve Others”. (Xuma : 1930:22). After leaving Clarkebury he taught in a few schools including Ntibani, Newala and Qokolweni. (Ibid: 22).


He then, left the country to pursue studies in medicine in America and he qualified in 1925. He decided to do specialization in operative work focusing on Women’s diseases and Midwifery (Ibid: 24).


It is also important to realize that Dr Xuma was an activist and thus became President of the Africa National Congress from 194 0-1949. He is remembered for improving the administration of the ANC, hence he has received wide acclamation within the political circles. He is also to be remembered as one of the sons of the Wesleyan Methodist Church.



The Rev Jotham Charles Mvusi, the son of Charles and Susan Mvusi, was born and bred at Etembeni Mission on the 30 October 1903. He was baptized by the Rev Charles Pamla. His father served as an Evangelist at Gugwini and amongst Amabaca at Kokshill, Umzimkulu. His grandfather on the maternal side was an interpreter, Educator and  Evangelist who assisted Rev W. Mason in establishing the Durban African circuit (Mears 1973:10). He also served under the Rev Jenkins at Emfundisweni. He completed his secondary education at Etembeni Mission school and proceeded to Mariahill Monastery where he was placed under Father Bernard Huss. Upon completion of his training he taught at Lourdes Roman Catholic Mission. From there he went to Nuttal Training College under the supervision of Rev Arnold Nicholas. After qualifying as a Methodist Local Preacher he was offered the position of Spiritual Adviser to the Students Christian Association.


Mr Jotham Mvusi joined the ranks of the Methodist Ministry in 1933 and was sent to Fort Hare for Theological Training. From 1937-1939 Conference seconded him the Students Christian Association and he represented South Africa abroad.  “In 1938 he went with the Rev C.C. Harris and others to represent South Africa Churches at the International Missionary Council which assembled at Tambaram in South India” and he also “went on to represent South African Student’s at the World Students’ Movement Conference at Alqaye on the West coast of India under the Presidency of the Rev Dr Visser T’Hooft” (Mears 1973:11).  In 1940 Rev Mvusi was called to labour at Indaleni on a full time basis under the Rev S. Le Grove Smith (Mears 1973:11).  He served in various Boards (including Council of Churches & School boards) and when he was stationed in Port Elizabeth he was a member of the Fort Hare Council and holding the position of Deputy Chairman in the Grahamstown district.  His wife also served as the President of the Triennial Women’s Manyano Conference and represented the organization in the World Federation of Methodist Women in London. Mrs Mvusi also served as the Area President for South and East Africa.


The Rev Jotham Mvusi was appointed Chairman of the Clarkebury district in 1968 bringing a wealth of experience to that position and it came as no surprise that he became the President of Conference in 1973.


In conclusion, I believe that these institutions that were built by the missionaries cannot be restored to their original condition, especially that there are challenges regarding ownership. But where possible, the church can play a meaningful role in revitalizing these institutions.


Allow me Presiding Bishop sir, to submit the following recommendations for your kind consideration.

I strongly believe that the Heritage programme is a vital element of our Mission and we need to enhance it by;

  • developing a Methodist Heritage Strategy and Implementation Plan that will serve as a guiding tool.
  • redefining our niche in the common goal of social transformation
  • designing capacity building programmes with institutions of Higher Learning to equip our Ministers for a development oriented Ministry.
  • locating the Heritage programme within the broader development agenda
  • building sustainable partnerships


  1. Clarkebury Mission Tembuland : Mission Souvenir

2              Mears G.W. 1973 : Mission to Clarkebury

  1. E. Mqoboli : Ibandla lama Wesile
  2. Barnabas Shaw : The story of his life and Missionary Labours in Southern Africa