The reluctant prophetess

Despite her attempts to resist the calling, Nontetha continued to preach after she was told that, if she failed to do so, God would start speaking through her daughter.

"Even after her vision, Nontetha resisted her calling, pleading that she was just a simple woman and not up to the task. But she was told that if she did not agree to preach, God would send her daughter, Nokazi, in her place. Nontetha reasoned that if it would be difficult for her, it would be even more difficult for her daughter. So reassured by God that he would speak through her, she agreed to begin her mission."

- Robert R. Edgar and Hilary Sapire. 2000. African apocalypse: The Story of Nontetha Nkwenkwe, a twentieth-century South African prophet, p. 17

back to the Nontetha Nkwenkwe memorial page

"Nontetha is walking in a trance, eyes closed, waiting on the word of God"
Lynnley Watson
Nontetha Nkwenkwe, painted by Lizo Pemba
Picture: Courtesy of the church of the prophetess Nontetha


In this lesson plan, learners are asked to decide whether the prophetess Nontetha was incarcerated because the authorities thought she was mentally ill, or whether they had political reasons for branding her as mad. Learners will be examining a medical report, letters from Nontetha's followers and the response from the Native Affairs Department.

Lesson plan
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Images from Notetha Nkwenkwe's life
A selection of images from Nontetha Nkwenkwe’s life and of the memorial to the prophetess outside the King William’s Town magistrate’s court.
The reburial of prophetess Nontetha
In 1935, the prophetess Nontetha Nkwenkwe died at Weskoppies mental hospital where she had been incarcerated for preaching politically incendiary messages in the Eastern Cape. Fifty-three years later, in 1998, after a long search for her grave, she was re