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Marikana and Bulhoek

2 September 2012

The Marikana massacre of two weeks ago has been compared with many things, but one of the things it most resembles is the Bulhoek Massacre of 1921, when the followers of a prophet, Enoch Mgijima, refused to move from a mountain they regarded as holy, and were shot down by police and soldiers.

Mgijima had joined an American-based denomination, the Church of God and the Saints of Christ, which had been founded by William Saunders Crowdy in 1896. Its basic theology was Seventh Day Adventist (rather like that of those involved in the Waco Massacre in Texas).

The Church of God and the Saints of Christ was brought to South Africa by Bishop John James Msikinya, a former Methodist, vut Enoch Mgijima soon became the leader of the South African branch. Enock Mgijima was sentenced to six years imprisonment for his part in the “disturbance”.

In the light of these events it is interesting that Nightingale, the Superintendent of Natives at Kamastone, wrote to the magistrate of Queenstown, recommending the appointment of the Revd Enoch Mgijima as a marriage officer. He described Mgijima as “a very respectable man, of good character and repute” and “honest and straightforward in all dealings I have had with him”. The church was growing rapidly, and the passover ceremony at Kamastone had more than 1100 people present.

You can read more about the Bulhoek massacre in this article on The Bulhoek tragedy by Joan Millard, a lecturer in the church history department of the University of South Africa.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 3 September 2012 3:32 am

    Steve, I know SA is a populous and complex country but is there another party with broad, progressive representation and policies which can challenge the ANC? I don’t like parties or individuals in power too long. It’s not a healthy thing – unless they are the rare beasties who are able to reform/transform themselves while in power. It seems to me that the ANC & its cohort need a time in the wilderness to regroup and rethink.

    • 3 September 2012 3:41 am

      Unfortunately not at the moment. The Congress of South African Trade Unions is part of the tripartite alliance, and if they were to break away from it and form a Labour Party they might be able to oppose the Thatcherist policies of the ANC, but at the moment any opposition they voice mainly takes place behind closed doors. Party loyalties die hard here. People would rather demonstrate against the ruling party in so-called “service-delivery protests” than organise and support another party.

      • Graham permalink
        3 September 2012 1:48 pm

        Yes, and that’s one of the reasons why I find it so difficult to feel any sympathy for people involved in said protests. They either threaten to make an area ungovernable (and clearly the ANC’s not interested in proper governance, so they could care less) or they threaten not to vote in an upcoming election. Well, newsflash! The ANC doesn’t NEED your vote, so they don’t care if you don’t vote. They just don’t want you to vote for anybody else, is all. :p

  2. Sonja N. Woods permalink
    14 January 2013 9:28 pm

    William Saunders Crowdy’s first emissary to South Africa was Albert A. Christian, a former sailor and Baptist missionary of Caribbean origin, in 1903. His successor in the Eastern Cape was John Ives Msikinya, a converted Methodist who had attended Lincoln College in Pennsylvania.

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