Proponent Bulelwa Soganga-Potwana was born on 20 October 1988 in the friendly Eastern Cape city of Port Elizabeth. Her parents are Miseka Dorees Soganga and the late Mr Zamile Nqandela.
She started her education at Mdengentonga Primary School and matriculated at Ndyebo Senior Secondary School in Motherwell Port Elizabeth.
“As a child, and later as a teenager my maternal grandmother, Ntombizodwa Evelin Soganga, was the person who taught me everything about how to become a responsible girl,” says Bulelwa. “She encouraged me to take education very seriously. It was tough but she was always positive and she worked very hard to make sure that the family always went to bed with a full stomach.
“She was a very strong individual who would always fight for women’s rights. As a young girl, I was always with her when she went to do her gardening. She became my mentor because of the strength that I saw in her, especially when my grandfather passed away. She then became a pillar of strength to everyone in the house.”
“My grandparents influenced me to be the Christian that I became. I used to go with them to church until I was 17 years when I chose to register for catechism class. After 2 years of catechism class, I became very committed to worshipping Christ. During this time Rev. L.L. Platjie was the minister of the URCSA Motherwell Congregation. The leadership that I saw in him, made me fell in love with Christ. In his charisma, passion for preaching and humility I found my purpose. I became devoted to the church as well. In 2008 I became the youngest member to become a chairperson of the Christian Youth Ministry of the URCSA Motherwell Congregation.”
Bulelwa explains how she decided to become a minister, “As a young girl growing up in church, I became committed with the drive that I have to preach the good news. I wanted to do more for the church and for God. In 2010 I was elected as a deacon and realised that the church had male ministers only. So I thought that I can only become a church council member and nothing more.
“Then after completing my matric I wanted to be a chartered accounted but my parents didn’t have money for me to further my studies so I found a job as a cleaner in a pre-school. In 2012 the CYM had a camp were one of the lectures Dr S. Mahokoto from Stellenbosch University attended and explained to me how to apply for Stellenbosch. I applied and was accepted. Thereafter I was more motivated and excited with the dream of becoming a minister; something that increased as I was studying.”
Bulelwa obtained her BDiv (2016) and MDiv (2020) at Stellenbosch University. In her thesis “A Critical Evaluation of Jesus’ Response in John 8:1-11” she examined the 21st century context, gender discrimination, gender-based violence and gender inequality as aspects that most women are experiencing in their everyday life. This affects women physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It clearly indicates that women are not valued and respected and they are not safe in their own country.
“During my early years in Stellenbosch, I became a member of URCSA Mbekweni Congregation where Rev. Manyinyi was the minister and became my mentor. He was a good teacher because he was not just telling us what to do but he was walking the talk.”
Bulelwa’s dream for the church is to participate in the missional vision of the Church, as we are aware of the decrease in URCSA membership. As a female theologian, her dream is to see that the church recognises and upholds gender equality in all church leadership positions. She would also like to see her congregation becoming part of the community, “My church needs to be influential or become involved in society.” She would also like to see the church promoting and practising the Confession of Belhar in our lives, becoming an instrument of change.
Bulelwa is a keen reader and writer and loves to travel. She is married to Siyabulela Potwana, a minister of the URCSA Khayelitsha Congregation and has a nine months old boy, Bulelani Potwana jr.
Contact Prop. Soganga-Potwana at 082 876 5878 (WhatsApp) or call her at 060 936 4320. Her email address is [email protected].