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Khoza Elliot Mbuyisa Mgojo

The Order of the Baobab in

Khoza Elliot Mbuyisa Mgojo Awarded for:
His contribution to the field of religion and the pursuit of freedom for all South African citizens.

Profile of Khoza Elliot Mbuyisa Mgojo

The Rev Khoza Elliot Mbuyisa Mgojo was born in April 1932 in Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal. His academic qualifications include a BA degree in Theology from the University of Fort Hare, a masters degree (cum laude) in Theology from Chicago University and a PhD from Harvard University.

Reverend Mgojo began his career in 1953 as a teacher at Gcilima Secondary School and vice-principal of Malukazi Secondary School. From 1970 to 1992 he was a lecturer at the Federal Theological Seminary in Alice, Eastern Cape, and at the Federal Theological Seminary, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. In 1989, he was a visiting professor at Iliff Theological Seminary in Denver, Colorado, in the United States, followed by a three-month appointment as a lecturer at the Swedish Theological Seminary in Jerusalem.

Reverend Mgojo’s clerical role in the country has been significant and in his lifetime he has held many ecumenical leadership and various other positions. He was the founder of the Natal Church Leaders’ Group and was also its first chairperson; he was the President of the South African Council of Churches from July 1990 to July 1996; member of the World Council of Churches; and he served on the panel of the Religious Leaders of Electoral Justice. In 1998, together with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Reverend Frank Chikane and Mrs Virginia Gcabashe, Reverend Mgojo was an Eminent Guest of the Vatican.

He was chairperson of the Natal-West District for 10 years, bishop of Natal-West District for four years and president (Presiding Bishop) of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (1982 to 1983 and 1987 to 1988).

Reverend Mgojo served the nation in the religious fraternity and supported efforts towards the political transition in South Africa. He led the National Church Ecumenical Leaders to meet with the National Party government and also monitored the signing of the National Peace Accord by government and political organisations.

In addition to two honorary doctorates, Reverend Mgojo’s list of accolades includes Honorarium Rings by the Chancellor of the University of Fort Hare, which he received with former President Nelson Mandela, Professor Ephraim Mokgokong, Nkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Robert Sobukwe, Govan Mbeki and Archbishop Tutu.

Among the many accolades was his being named as the Ugu District Best Achiever for 1994 and 2004. Reverend Mgojo was also the chairperson of Uvongo Development Centre and he also served as a chancellor for Mangosuthu University of Technology. His many roles distinguish him as one the most dedicated community workers, who brought the church into full service to people.

Khoza Elliot Mbuyisa could have opted to remain silent during apartheid but instead chose to seek the truth and call for an equal society. While some ministers of religion chose to avoid involving themselves in politics, Reverend Mgojo fearlessly spoke out against the apartheid regime and provided spiritual guidance to many victims of apartheid. His compassion was exhibited through his burial of apartheid victims in Botswana and in South Africa. He was also called to bless the graves of the apartheid victims in Mozambique.

True to his campaigning spirit, Reverend Mgojo continues to extend himself in the service of others. He is one of the spokespersons of the Senior Citizens’ Forum in KwaZulu-Natal, an organisation that promotes and protects the interests of old people in the province, which activities include health, care, safety and access to pension pay points and involving them in the socio-political issues of the country. He is also a voluntary worker in the community where he is involved, mainly in health and education.