Bishop Nngodiseni Isaiah Netshamavu was buried on Tuesday at Khalavha village. Photo supplied.

Bishop Netshamavu (101) dies peacefully at his home


One of the legends of the United African Federation Apostolic Church (UAFAC), Bishop Isaiah Nngodiseni Netshamavu, died peacefully at his home last Thursday and was buried at Khalavha village on Tuesday.

Bishop Netshamavu died at the age of 101 at his house. Although he was aged, a family member, Ms Rebecca Netshamavu, said she was still heartbroken because she was relaxing with him (bishop) and his wife when he told them he wanted to rest a bit. She further said they had seen no signal that that was his last moment. “He closed his eyes and died peacefully,” she said.

Netshamavu was born at Vondo in February 1920. He was the third-born son of the late George and Elelwani Netshamavu. Back in his younger days, he did not go to a formal school as none existed in the area. The only school available for him was a traditional one, where he attended and graduated.

In 1935, he was entrusted with the responsibility of looking after the late Mutangwa Jack Mandiwana’s livestock at the neighbouring Makanga Village. As a fearless herd boy, he was also used to hunting warthogs and kudus in the bush.  

In 1936, he was baptized by the late founder of the United African Apostolic Church (UAAC), Bishop Matsea Paulus Miriri, at Milaboni Village. In 1953, at the age of 33, his family moved to Khalavha after farmers forced them to vacate the Vondo area.

In 1956, he established a Zionist type of a church near Lupalapata River - the first African church in the area, but the German missionaries who had established a Lutheran church were not happy with the type of congregation he established. German missionaries were also not happy with the beating of African drums and the dancing style.

Netshamavu migrated to Johannesburg where he did not stay long before crossing to Botswana.  He was arrested in Botswana after failing to produce travel documents. The Botswana government pardoned him after discovering that he was a man of God. He was released and worked on the farms in Botswana, looking after the livestock.

Netshamavu returned home to Khalavha with a Tswana-speaking wife, Maria, in 1974 and continued with his African church. They were blessed with six children, Petrus (deceased), Daniel, Stephen, Elelwani, Moses and Aaron.

Netshamavu then got a job at a treated-poles and truss-manufacturing company that was situated on the banks of the Mutshundudi River at Matondoni, near the Tshivhase tea estate. He worked there until he retired.

After retirement, his focus was on the church, and he was also included in the Tshivhase Royal Kraal’s decision-making panel. His wife Maria died in 2000 and he mourned her death for more than five years, until he married Gladys Ramulifho in 2006.

The UAFAC’s Rev Mathews Mukhwakhwe described the late bishop Netshamavu as one of the legends of the African churches in Limpopo.




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Date:17 September 2021 - By: Godfrey Mandiwana

Godfrey Mandiwana



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