The conference was themed: Autodidacts, Forgotten Thinkers, Silenced Women in 20th-Century South Africa.
Dlamini’s paper was titled: Inkosazana yamaWeseli : The Untold Story of the First Black Woman Ordained in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, the Rev Nikiwe Mbilini.
Dlamini spoke on the ‘black side’ of the story of women being ordained in the Methodist Church, raising the forgotten and neglected history of black women ministers. Dlamini explored the challenges faced by the Rev Nikiwe Mbilini – a black woman minister at Harding in KwaZulu-Natal – and her contributions and achievements in her ministry.
He noted that it was never easy for Mbilini to minister in Harding. ‘The people she was sent to had never seen a woman minister before – ministry was perceived as a vocation for men only. She was single and in her early thirties when she was sent there. For her to be accepted, she had to cover her hair with a “doek” whenever she went in public or conducted services,’ said Dlamini.
He said according to Zulu culture when a person died in an accident, women were not allowed at the graveyard. ‘Nikiwe broke the barriers of culture because she buried people despite the restrictions set by cultural systems,’ said Dlamini. ‘She became known by various names, the best being Inkosazana yamaWeseli (the Methodist princess).
‘We remember the sacrifices of Inkosazana yamaWeseli and honour her contribution in the mission of women in ministry. Today, Nikiwe is retired and lives at her home in Cofimvaba.’