Bernard Mizeki -
Mizeki was born, probably in 1861, on the shores of the Bay of Inhambane, in
Mozambique south of Beira.
he travelled to Cape Town with other young men to look for work. He found work
in a butchery and during his time there he came into contact with the Anglican
baptized and confirmed. Although he did not begin his education until late he
had particular gifts for music and languages. He was also a man who prayed
much, and his gentleness and graciousness impressed all who met him. In time he
came to believe that God was calling him to be a missionary.
chance came in 1891, when Bishop Knight-Bruce recruited him to join a party to
make the difficult journey via Beira into Eastern Zimbabwe to found the new
diocese. Mizeki was given the task of living among Chief Mangwende's people
near Marondera, and to build up the mission there.
next five years, Mizeki worked hard and after a time, he became a key member of
the small group which was given the task of producing part of the Prayer Book
and the Scriptures in the vernacular.
realised that the belief of the local people was something to be respected, and
upon which he could build. His humility was such that he destroyed furniture he
had built for himself because he wanted to live the same life as those around
him. His identification with Mangwende's people became even more complete when
he married a young woman called Mutwa, who was related to the Chief.
Converts began to gather round Mizeki but some of his teachings aroused
jealousy. So, when the behaviour of many white settlers provoked the first
great rebellion anyone associated with them was under threat. Mizeki was
advised to leave his post and seek safety until peace was restored.
refused to leave his converts, and on 18 June 1896, he was speared to death by
two of Mangwende's sons. Mutwa escaped, and in November gave birth to a
Mizeki's life and death have deeply influenced the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe.
His memory is preserved by books that have been written about him, and schools
named after him.
shrine which Bishop Paget caused to be erected at the site of his martyrdom is
the scene of a huge open-air service held each year at the weekend nearest to
Gathering at the Mizeki Shrine for the annual
Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your
love in the heart of your holy martyr Bernard Mizeki: Grant to us, your humble
servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in his triumph
may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.