MAMLOTSHWA was one of the chief wives of King Lobengula, the last king of the Matabele people in Africa. The late Rev John Tallach described her in his Mission Report to the 1938 Synod of the Free Presbyterian Church: “Mamlotshwa is tall, of commanding appearance, intelligent-looking, yet every inch a heathen, a drinker, given to fighting and filthy language. She is bound to be a power on whichever side she is found.”
Mamlotshwa was a well-known figure at Libeni, a small community about five miles from Ingwenya where we had a small church and a preacher, John Dabengwa, an elder. She was often seen at the weekends wending her way towards the nearest beer-drink, and then returning under the influence of drink.
On one occasion on her rounds, Mamlotshwa noticed a group of people gathered in the open air around the elder, John Dabengwa. They appeared to be listening intently. Curious as to what was being said, she drew near and heard the Gospel for the first time. After that, whenever she saw a similar gathering, she joined the little congregation. Her interest was awakened, and she began to attend the services in the Libeni church and in due time was converted. Everyone saw the great and obvious change in Mamlotshwa.
After a year or so Mamlotshwa attended a communion season at Ingwenya, and she came before the Kirk Session to be examined for membership of the Church. The elders enquired of her as to her Christian experience in being under the gospel, and they were well pleased with what she had to say. But now came the question, “Mamlotshwa, are you going to continue drinking beer?” Of course, she had ceased going to beer-drinks, and she declared, “I shall never go to a beer-drink again.” Then she added, “But I do not think there is anything wrong in drinking a little beer in my own home.” The elders dealt gently with her. “Mamlotshwa, it is a bad example. In the Bible we are told that we must not be a stumbling-block to others. If you are seen drinking beer, others will think drunkenness is no sin. You go home and pray to the Lord for an answer, and come back in three months’ time, at the next communion.”
Mamlotshwa went home, no doubt sad at heart. In three months’ time she was seen at the communion at Ingwenya where she again appeared before the Kirk Session. She was asked, “Well, Mamlotshwa, have you received an answer?” Mamlotshwa rose to her full height with her arms outstretched above her head. “Yes, I have received an answer. The Lord has shown me it is altogether wrong to drink beer. I never wish to see it again.”
She continued in her profession, attending all the services, and people grew to love the new Mamlotshwa, who was now warm and loving. Some time later we were sorry to hear that she was ill, and then that she had passed away. Her last words were, “Receive thou me, O Lord of Glory.”