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Ethiopian Orthodox Church

28 January 2008

Diliza Valisa (Fr Wolde Selassie) came to see us on Saturday, accompanied by Pascal Schmitz and Wolde Emmanuel Solontsi Sindiso. He gave me various documents and pictures relating to the history of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of South Africa. He explained how they had come to make contact with the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church after breaking from the Order of Ethiopia in 1983, and it was a news report of the funeral of the reggae singer Peter Tosh in Jamaica in 1987 where it was said that the funeral was conducted by a bishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. He had shown the news report (from the Port Elizabeth Evening Post on 28 September 1987) to Father Hopa, who asked Father Ntshebe to look into it, and with the help of a professor of Rhodes University they made contact with Abuna Yasehag, who visited South Africa in 1990, and received them into the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

The one who was asked to investigate it was Father Ephraim Ntshebe, and it was also hoped that he would become the first bishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of South Africa, as he was unmarried, but unfortunately he died before he could be ordained. Diliza said that Lunga ka Siboto, whom I had met (and been impressed with) at the SACC counference in 2005, had taken over from Sigqibo Dwane as leader of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church.

Diliza Valisa had come to stay with us in 1997, and wanted to know where he could learn more about Orthodox theology. He told us something of the history of their movement then. They had originally been part of the Order of Ethiopia, which was associated with the Anglican Church. But the Provincial of the Order, Canon Ephraim Hopa, had broken away from it in 1983, to form the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of South Africa, because they did not like Sigqibo Dwane, the grandson of the founder of the Order, who had been appointed bishop of the Order by the Anglican Synod of bishops. Later, in 1997, Dwane had himself led what was left of the Order out of the Anglican Church to form the Ethiopian Episcopal Church.

Thus the Ethiopian movement in South Africa had come a full circle about a century after its founding. It had begun with a vision of an African Christianity that was older by far than the Anglican and Methodist traditions that had established themselves in South Africa, when some black ministers, led by Mangena Mokone, James Mata Dwane and others had broken away from the Methodist Church in 1892 because of racial discrimination in the church, and formed the Ethiopian Church. James Mata Dwane had then led it into union with the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the USA, and then, when American ecclesiastical imperialism proved just as stifling as the British variety, formed the Order of Ethiopia in association with the Anglican Church in 1900. And now, after a full century, at least part of the Ethiopian movement had united with the original Church of Ethiopia, through the agency of a dead reggae singer.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Wazéma 2001 permalink
    28 March 2008 4:47 am


    Dear All,

    The Unicode version of Wazéma, the Ethiopian computer writing system, is released.

    Wazéma2001 v.2.0 is compatible with all the latest versions of Windows (2000/XP/Vista). It is freely available from:

    Wazéma2001 comes with:

    . three professional quality TrueType Unicode fonts (A0 Desta Unicode, A0 Tesfa Unicode and A0 Addis Abeba Unicode);
    . a very complete and versatile Pan-Ethiopian keyboard system (for US, UK, French, German keyboard hardware);
    . the complete User’s Manual in Amharic, English and French, in PDF format, which is also available on-line at:

    The Mac OSX version will be released soon.

    Best regards.

  2. Demeke Tesfaw permalink
    13 July 2008 11:24 am

    Thank you for all that you have doing
    Let countinue like this . Iam proud of you and our orthodox church

  3. 30 September 2008 4:58 pm


  4. 11 December 2008 4:21 pm

    I just happened to check up who exactly are you.
    I am Rasta by way of life and there is a story of my great grandfathers having your religion as his way.
    Please take me step by step into the understanding of how your church is run, believe,conduct, food, etc, I is 37 yrs old and I need something more communial because I believe I am a preacher who likes his identity very much. I am motswana from Botswana. Blessings

    • 11 December 2008 7:37 pm

      I’m not a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, though of course I know several people who are.

      I can tell you a little about it, but it would be best to contact a member of the church if you want to know more.

      I am a member of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria, which split from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the 6th century in a doctrinal dispute over the two natures of Christ. Apart from that difference, there are many similarities.

  5. oumatjie permalink
    16 October 2011 9:24 pm

    hi i’m a member of ethiopian episcopal church,in northeren diocese.gonna mo topiya is to be strong ekholweni.

  6. 28 March 2013 8:20 pm

    Greetings brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ name Amen.HAPPY EASTER TO ALL
    We wish to invite all our Brothers and Sisters in Pretoria and all.Southern and and Western Africa Diosece to come to St Mary Church Ethiopian Orthdox Tewahido Church in Pretotia and Holy Saviour Cathedral Johannesburg to witness the Orthodox Tewahido Christian Heritage
    anded down to us as morden generation of this oldest Church on earth and first outside Jerusalem being set in 34AD just few months after Christ Jesus ascended to Heaven.
    Call Us at 072 4379 348 / 084 7968 726 for directions 141 Jubert street Sunnyside Pretoria 0002.

    St Bacos (Acts8:26-39)
    Experience healing,preaching,grace and power of Our Lord Jesus Christ working in us.

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