St. Bernard Mizeki

St bernard Mizeki Mens GuildAbout the St. Bernard Mizeki

BERNARD MIZEKI left Mozambique to the City of Cape Town at the age of 14 to find work. He enrolled at a night school where he was taught how to read and write and was also given religious instruction by the Lady Missionary. She further introduced Bernard to Father Puller, one of the Cowley fathers who had just come out to Cape Town from England. They belonged to the first religious community for men to be established in the Anglican Church. Bernard was baptized in 1886 when he was 25 years and the Lady Teacher from the night School was his Godmother. He was later sent to Zonnebloem College where he won a prize for religious knowledge.

1n 1891 the Bishop of Mashonaland came to Cape Town looking for volunteers for pioneer missionary work in his new diocese and Bernard was one of the six who volunteered to serve as catechists. The Bishop arranged for Bernard to settle at Marondellas District near the village of Mangwende. He was given stone buildings on a little grassy plateau, and he built one large hut to serve as a church and school.

Bernard became close to Old Chief Mangwende. On Sunday mornings Bernard hoisted a flag above the mission hut and Chief Mangwende responded by flying it on in the village, that was a signal to the people to stop work and go to church. Mangwende’s head wife attended Bernard’s services. Bernard was preaching the gospel and converting people to Christ and he was also a school teacher.

Bernard got married to Mangwende’s grand-daughter Mutwa in March, 1896, but their life together was very short since Bernard was murdered by the Chief’s elder son Mchenwa. On the 17th of June, Mchenwa sent for his uncle and two of his brothers (Bodjgo and Ziute). He ordered them to kill Bernard, but Ziute protested as he was Bernard’s friend. Mchenwa insisted as he knew Bernard would open the door for Ziute.

About midnight there was a loud knocking and Ziute called to Bernard, saying that the European soldiers had come to the village and shot Mangwende. Inspite of Mutwa’s protest, Bernard opened the door and Ziute and uncle came in and dragged him outside the hut. He tried to fight them but the two of them held him down and the third one Bodjgo drove a spear into his side. Mutwa tried to get between them, but the murderers threw her back into the hut. After they had gone Mutwa came out and when she saw Bernard bleeding and apparently dead, she ran to the bush for help, there she found another young woman hiding, the wife of one of Bernard’s students. The two women crept back and called softly. A faint voice answered. They found Bernard by the spring washing his would. They helped him to crawl to a flat rock.

Bernard said to Mutwa”I am dying. I wish you to be baptized and the child in your womb. Do not think that because your uncles have killed me the work of the priests and teachers is ended. No, more will come when I am dead and one day all your people will be Christians. Go to your home now and find your father. He will take you to safety”.

When Bernard had finished speaking he was very weak and breathless. Mutwa decided he needed some food so she and her friend went back to the hut and quickly made some thin porridge. As they left the hut to climb the slope again they were almost blinded by a brilliant white light. There was a noise “like many wings of great birds”. The women were terrified and hid their faces. When the noise and the light had gone, they crept up the hill to the rock above the spring but Bernard was not there and his body was never found. Some months later Mutwa gave birth to a daughter who was baptized with the name BERNARDINA.