As we celebrate former President Nelson Mandela’s centenary, we discover that there is a possible link between the church he was christened in and the liberation movement he later led.

Qunu based tour guide, Zimisele Gamakhulu, says “This is the church (African Natives Mission Church) where Nelson Mandela was christened as a child. Because the church was aligned to the abaThembu nation and you will also recognise that Nelson Mandela comes from the Thembu Royal house.”

The Thembu church, as it was then known, had its own politics to deal with, after the founder of the church, Reverend Nehemiah Tile was expelled from the Methodist Church of Southern Africa after attending umgidi (a coming home celebration held when boys come back from the mountain as men) in the area.

The African Natives Mission Church in Qunu today:

Gamakhulu says Reverend Tile went on to establish his own church. “He (Tile) was expelled in 1882 and then he decided to form his own church.”

Tile named the church after the Thembu nation, calling it the Thembu church, but later renamed it to African Natives Mission Church.

Mandela’s christening happened before he was later sent to eMqhekezweni Great place, where his leadership character was nurtured under the guidance of regent King Jongintaba Mtirara.

For more on this watch video below: