Bishop Sigqibo Dwane: Bold prophet of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church


P T Mtuze
University of Fort Hare


In this study of the life of Bishop Sigqibo Dwane (1941–2006), first bishop of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church, Professor Peter Mtuze investigates the unique nature of Bishop Dwane’s spirituality, a bold embracing of his culture within his Christian faith.

Exploring the writings, speeches and advocacy of the doughty bishop, Mtuze – who is singularly well-fitted to reflect on the meeting of Africa and Europe, of isiXhosa and English – reveals the bishop’s passion for the expression and embodiment of African spirituality, values and culture in the life of the church, something never previously attained in the Western-dominated established church in Africa. He was empowered to depart radically from standard Western practice with the granting of autonomy by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Ethiopian Episcopal Church’s “last surrogate mother”. The bishop, recognised as a man of principle with unshakeable ethical standards, though soft-spoken and gentle, was the bold spearhead of a radical paradigm shift towards the corporate expression of a truly African spirituality. Nevertheless, in his commitment to the unity and catholicity of the church, he never broke communion with the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, and it was Anglican doctrines and liturgical norms that formed the basis for his 1999 liturgy, indigenised by being firmly rooted in African custom and idiom.

This study makes a long overdue contribution to the history of Xhosa Christianity, as well as more broadly to systematic theology, church history and African religion. Notably, it demonstrates how the historical mainline churches failed to take cognisance of the culture of the people they sought to Christianise. It will serve as a valuable guide to students in theological colleges, and to all who are studying and doing theology in the context of the new South Africa.


'Professor Peter Mtuze offers in this book a great gift to the Church and the wider community in bringing to a more popular audience the fruits of his doctoral thesis on the connections between the spirituality of Sigqibo Dwane, former presiding bishop of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church, and Xhosa culture'. - Canon Janet Trisk

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Part 1: Pilgrimage

  1.  Introduction: Dwane’s pilgrimage

  2.  Foundations and evolution

  3.  The Order’s struggle for autonomy

  4.  Westernism and Xhosa culture

Part 2: New wine bottles

  5.  Contribution to conciliation

  6.  Prophetic ministry

  7.  The last kicks and the new tricks

  8.  An overview of Bishop Dwane’s Ad clera

       Part 3: Epilogue

  9.  Evolution of an authentic Xhosa spirituality

10. Comparison with the Shembe church

11. Bishop Dwane’s spirituality: An overview

Author Biography

P T Mtuze, University of Fort Hare

Prof Peter Tshobisa Mtuze served in various capacities, in different institutions, from 1961 to 2006 when he retired from Rhodes University where he was Professor and Head of African Languages and Deputy Registrar. He later worked for Vivlia Publishers as Publisher until 2013.

He published, from 1961 to date, more than 25 books in all the genres, viz. novels, short stories, essays, drama, poetry, autobiography and theological books. Some of these works received awards and accolades from various institutions and one of his novels is on the list of literary classics. Many of the titles are available in Braille and audio recordings.

Cover for Bishop Sigqibo Dwane: Bold prophet of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church
December 12, 2018