Our History

The establishment of the Diocese of Zululand can be traced right back to 1859 when the bishop of Natal, John William Colenso, visited King Mpande to secure his permission for a Zulu mission. This wish was granted, and the King gave bishop Colenso land at KwaMagwaza for the establishment of a mission station.

In 1860, bishop Colenso sent the Revd Robert Robertson from Umlazi Mission outside Durban, to start work at KwaMagwaza.

After bishop Colenso's excommunication by the bishop of Cape Town, Robertson refused to accept him as his bishop, and Bishop Thomas Wilkinson was consecrated as the first bishop of the new Diocese on 8 May 1870 at the Whitehall chapel in London. He was given the title 'a bishop for the Zulus and the tribes towards the Zambezi' and settled at KwaMagwaza.

From there he trekked north, establishing missions in Swaziland and Mpumalanga on his way to Pretoria.

The Zulu war of 1879 saw all the missions buildings in Zululand burned to the ground, as well as the annihilation of a the British army at Isandlwana.

Law and order broke down and KwaMagwaza became a very unsettled area. This resulted in the removal of the Diocesan Centre to Isandlwana.

The second bishop, Douglas McKenzie (1880), made Isandlwana his headquarters and set up a training college there. Eleven bishops followed with Monument Makhanya being the 14th Bishop of Zululand.


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