The Presbyterian Church of Africa (P.C.A) was formed by the late Rt. Rev Pambani Jeremiah (P.J) Mzimba on the 27th of December 1898 at Sheshegu location in Alice after leaving the Free Church of Scotland.
Rhadebe (his clan name) was originally from the Transkei and was part of the amaHlubi tribe that was also known as amaMfengu (The Wanderers) and he was the son of the late Ntibane and Madlomo (Miss Dube) Mzimba. He was born at Ngqakayi (Fort Wilshire) near Hogsburg in the Eastern Cape in April 1850. Rev P.J. Mzimba got his education from the famous Lovedale institution in Alice and he taught Biblical studies at the same institution with Elijah Makiwane (father to Cecilia Makiwane the first black nurse in South Africa) and ministered at Lovedale congregation.
Rev P.J. Mzimba married Martha Kwatsha who became an influential partner in his ministry and she was always on his side throughout his ministry.
He left the Free Church of Scotland after serving the denomination for a period of twenty two years after a dispute about the money that he raised for the building of a new church for his congregation. After a lengthy dispute with the Kaffrarian Presbytery he decided to part ways with the institution that has shaped his destiny for the sake of his people.
After living the Free Church of Scotland he did not rest because his life was followed by litigations because his previous denomination was not willing to let him operate freely. Despite the rocky road to the formation of the PCA he persevered until the end until the PCA was a well organised structure with a solid foundation that was going to stand the test of times. Other ministers who assisted him in the formation of the Church were Revs C. Kupe and S. Matolo and the first candidates for ordination were the Revs W.N. Bottoman, R. Damane and J. Sibiya.
The elders that followed him and became his first fruits were Khala, Mabeqa, Sihawu and Mketile. The white missionaries tried to stop him in his endeavours to establish a church that was independent from the white man’s rule and their efforts bore no fruits and he continued with his quest. Rev P.J. Mzimba as a leader made his mark amongst the likes of Rev Nehemiah Tile, Rev Mangena Mokone, Rev James Mata Dwane, Bishop Enoch Mgijima, J.T. Jabavu, John Knox Bokwe, A.C. Jordan, Isaac Wauchope and Rev Elijah Makiwane.
Because of his tireless efforts his Church grew in numbers and in Spirit and he laid a solid foundation that made it to stand the tests of times as a result it is still counted among the strongest denominations of our time. Today the Church is boasting a membership of over a million members and it is still having the prospects of growth. Rev P.J. Mzimba died at the age of 62 on the 25th of June 1911 and he was buried on the 28th of June 1911 and his congregation showed their appreciation to their hero by building a monument on his grave at Mavuso location in Alice.
The reasons for the appreciation were that he made it a point that he left them a solid foundation and a strong legacy (the P.C.A) that was recognized by the state and sister churches. Rev Mzimba was one of the founding fathers of the Ethiopian Movement that encouraged the governance of Churches by the African leaders who were discriminated against by the white missionaries. As the leader of a progressive Church he also established links with the African Americans in the United States of America such as Booker T. Washington and he managed to send a number of African scholars to American institutions such as Lincoln University, Tuskegee and Wilberforce Colleges.
Our Church is a liberated institution that allows all African children to practice their God given talents the African way and they also use African instruments to worship their creator. The PCA is still going strong even after 115 years of its existence because of its strong African roots that were watered by the late Rev P.J. Mzimba.
Compiled by Rev T.S.S. Nkumanda (General Assembly Stated Clerk)