Prop. Mtyana Mzukisi (39) was born and bred in the beautiful village of Mapuzi, situated along the picturesque Coffee Bay Beach at the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape.
But who is this inquisitive man who loves Gospel music, books, TV talk shows and documentaries and is so interested in theology, culture, different religions and history in order to understand the world around him?
“I grew up in a Christian family under the supervision of my late father Kekana and mother Nojikile Mtyana, who were both devout Christians,” Prop. Mzukisi says. “They made sure that we attended weekly church services, and taught us about Christian life that forms part of preaching on its own without using words. After their departure from this life, tata Ntiyo (who was an elder and my family member) served as my spiritual father. He continued where my parents left off, by ensuring that I am an active church member.”
Prop. Mzukisi attended his primary school at Madakeni Junior Secondary School, where he completed his Grade 9 in 1998. In 1999 he was enrolled at the Ikhwezi Technical Skills Centre in Mthatha, where he passed his Grade 10. Due to financial challenges he, unfortunately, had to leave school.
On the 8th of July 2000, he departed for Cape Town to look for greener pastures. In Cape Town, he started working for different building construction companies until 2011, while he was also serving as a deacon in Wallacedene, one of the wards of URCSA Scottsdene Congregation.
“In 2012 I decided to go back to school, and, because of age restrictions in schools, I had to look for adult schools in the Kraaifontein community,” Prop. Mzukisi explains. “It was here where I found such a school called Zanokhanyo Community Learning Centre in Wallacedene township, and where I completed my Level 4. In June 2013 I continued with Grade 12 at the same school and completed it in June 2014. I then applied for theological studies at Stellenbosch University, while working as a security guard from the 8th of July until 13 December 2014.”
But what was his motivation, or who were the people who encouraged him? Prop. Mzukisi explains, “When I grew up I spent most of my time reading the Bible and books. I developed an interest in learning more about the Bible and how to serve God in the church and community. I had many questions related to the Bible which made me eager to study theology, hoping to find all answers. Although I did not get all the answers to my questions, studying theology helped me to have a better understanding of the notion of serving God in the church and society.
“The late Professor Mazamisa was the first person who advised me to go back to school in the year 2000. He was my minister at Wallacedene, a branch that was under URCSA Langa congregation during that time and a lecturer at the University of Cape Town. Unfortunately, circumstances didn’t allow me at the time to go back to school. Secondly, Professor Simon at the Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University and my current minister at Scottsdene URCSA Congregation, assisting in the Wallacedene branch, continued to encourage me to go back to school, which I eventually did in 2012. Lastly, Rev. Gcaza, who was a senior 3rd-year student doing his practical work at Scottsdene Congregation at the time, played a significant role in preparing me for theological studies. It was especially in terms of the application process as well as the welcoming at university. These people served as the foundation to my theological journey, and I believe that God sent them to me, to remind me about my calling.
“I began my studies at Stellenbosch University in 2015 and obtained my BDiv in 2020. The topic of my thesis was The Contemporary relevance of ‘submission’ in 1 Peter 2:18-3:7, a text that allowed me to read the Bible critically and acknowledge the complexities involved in the interpretation process.
“During this period, I also wrote a poetic book that is currently in the publication process, as a response to South African social challenges. It was done in cooperation with an IsiXhosa lecturer and two other students in the department of African Languages at Stellenbosch University in 2019.
“I completed my MDiv with the theme Theologies and ideologies: constructing a postcolonial ethos from James 2:1-13 and 1 Peter 2:18-3:7, two texts that helped me to develop my critical reading of scriptures further, without dehumanizing other people. This topic helped me to investigate the ideologies and theologies utilised by the two texts, which need to be considered in the interpretation process.”
And what is his dream for the Church? Prop. Mzukisi explains, “That it will be missional by being influential to the society (the salt of the world), while at the same time, embracing diversity as part of God’s creation – acknowledging different identities involved in such a creation. A church must have an eschatological vision, by fighting against all kinds of injustices that exist in the community.”
On 9 April 2017, Prop. Mzukisi got married to his wife Khayakazi Mbikwana who was an URCSA member of Canzibe Congregation in Ngqeleni, Eastern Cape. She has obtained a Diploma as Management Assistant that she completed at Boland College in 2020. On 28 July 2019 God blessed them with their firstborn, a boy called Limnandi.
A last word from Prop. Mzukisi, “I thank God who carried me up until now, knowing that there is still a long journey ahead. I also thank my wife, family, congregations, mentors, lecturers and everyone who played a significant role in my life during this journey and I believe that it would not be possible for me without their support. May God continue to bless them. Amen.”
Contact Prop. Mzukisi at [email protected] or 071 793 9734 (WhatsApp:+27 63 140 4530) for more information.