Ntsikana
(c. 1780-1820)
   early South African (Xhosa) convert, hymn writer, and preacher
   Ntsikana was born into an elite family. Besides learning to tend cattle and hunt, he became known for his singing, dancing, and speaking skills.
   Ntsikana first learned of Christianity from Johannes T. van der Kemp (1847-1911), a missionary with the London Missionary Society, who worked among the Xhosa (1899-1900) without evident results. in 1816, missionary Joseph Williams settled near Ntsikana's home. By this time, Ntsikana had married twice, and inherited his deceased father's holdings.
   A year before, Ntsikana had had a vision, during which he had spontaneously hummed a song that later became the first of his hymns. He began to organize worship services. once Williams established his mission station, Ntsikana visited regularly, studying the Bible with him and his successor, John Brown Lee (1791-1871). Ntsikana died in Thwatwa in 1820.
   Ntsikana's four hymns became a staple of Xhosa Christian hymnody. The hymn to the Great God is still sung almost two centuries later. He also inspired a later Xhosa hymn writer, John Knox Bokwe (1855-1922), who wrote a biography of Ntsikana.
   See also South Africa.
   Further reading:
   ■ John K. Bokwe, Ntsikana (Lovedale, South Africa: Lovedale Press, 1914)
   ■ Janet Hodgson, Ntsikana's 'Great Hymn': A Xhosa Expression of Christianity in the Early 19th Century Eastern Cape (Cape Town, South Africa: Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town, 1980)
   ■ Basil Holt, Joseph Williams and the Pioneer Mission to the Southeastern Bantu (Lovedale, South Africa: Lovedale Press, 1954)
   ■ Richard Lovett, History of the London Missionary Society, 1795-1895 (London: Henry Frowde, 1899)
   ■ Ntsikana, The Life of Ntsikana (Lovedale, South Africa: Lovedale Press, 1902).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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