Mandlenkhosi Zwane (1932-1980) : first African Bishop in Swaziland.
Langa, Clement Johane.
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This thesis attempts to give a sketch of the life of Bishop Mandlenkhosi Zwane (1932-1980) who was bishop of Manzini for only four years. His enemies thought that he was magnificently prevaricating, his friends saw him as plain-dealing and bound by invisible power. Being the first Catholic African Bishop in Swaziland, he brought many changes in the life of the Church. Consecrated to the episcopate when the diocese of Manzini and the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops' Conference urgently needed a leader who would challenge injustice and the lack of authentic African spirituality, Zwane felt compelled to fight for justice and promote inculturation thus building the church. Though at a certain stage he was declared persona non grata by the South African Government; he did not stop helping the victims of injustice, in fact later on in our discussion we will find that Zwane had been at a certain stage branded a politician. He was not interested in political leadership, but he was interested in spiritual leadership. Since he was also interested in social justice some governments in the Southern Africa region felt threatened by his presence. Let us look briefly at the method. For many years Catholics in Swaziland have felt the need for a biography of Bishop Zwane. Surprisingly, no one has yet written the biography of Zwane. Since very little has been written on Zwane, in an endeavour to write his biography I felt compelled to conduct many interviews with some of the people who knew him. This means that for our knowledge of the life and the episcopate of Zwane, we are almost entirely depended upon interviews conducted fourteen years after his tragic death. A tape-recorder and questionnaires have been used. Other people who should have been interviewed have been unintentionally missed. We have made an effort to screen out errors and discrepancies. By far the most important written source for the life of Bishop Zwane is the collections of speeches and writings compiled and published by the Catholic Institute for International Relations. The oral and written sources provide new insight into Zwane's character and philosophy. They also throw certain aspects of his life into new perspective, in particular Zwane's feeling towards the poor whom he adored unequivocally. Our discussion is divided into three chapters. The first chapter deals with inculturation, which seems now to have attracted many people in Africa especially these days when the Church is preparing to enter into the third millennium. Also in that chapter, we shall try to understand how the Church looks at inculturation. Some documents of the Second Vatican and Post-Vatican Council will be used. Our reflection on inculturation will be reintroduced in the third chapter where we will be looking at Bishop Zwane's life. The inculturation we discuss in the first chapter is designed to help the reader understand how the church locks at inculturation. The second chapter looks at the Catholic Church and evangelization in Swaziland. That chapter will help us to understand how the church in Swaziland has carried out the work of evangelization amongst the Swazis. We are going to look briefly at how different religious congregations that engaged themselves in the work of evangelization established themselves in the country. When religious congregations arrived in Swaziland they discovered that there were many social problems. It will be interesting to look how they tried to address these issues as foreign missionaries. That discussion will certainly prepare us to see how Zwane who was the first African Bishop addressed similar problems. After one has understood the different approaches she or he will not hesitate to call Zwane a pioneer. Zwane tried to lay the foundations for the encounter between the Swazi culture and the Gospel. The principal aim of chapter three is to throw light on the life and the episcopate of Zwane. This chapter will consist of a careful study of some of the main issues discussed in the previous chapters such as inculturation, relations between Church and State, and other issues. Also in that chapter we shall see that the Church is one of the institutions that have a strong sense of social responsibility. The Church concern for justice was obvious in many conferences which were held during Zwane's episcopate. Our study on Zwane will enable us to learn how to build a prophetic Church. Finally; we shall be looking at the mysterious death of Bishop Zwane. Many questions have been raised about his death.