The Most Rev. Thabo Makoba welcomes first woman to be consecrated bishop in Southern Africa.
It felt like a bit of a scrum as the ten bishops surrounded Ellinah (with the Bishop-elect of the Diocese of the Free State also in attendance), and prayed together and laid their hands on her. She emerged from this tight circle wearing her episcopal insignia to applause and excitement. Among our guests we had representatives of the Africa desk of The Episcopal Church and of the USPG – now US – from the UK and Ireland; we had the Ugandan consul, and groups from Kenya, Mozambique, and Nigeria, as well as South Africa, Lesotho and Mozambique. It was a colourful display of beauty, smiles, laughter and tears. ‘Mr Bishop’ shed tears for his wife as she lay prostrated. Bishop Mabuza handed over his pastoral staff to the Dean of the Province, he handed it on to me, and I presented it to Ellinah. It was a symbolic display of both continuity and change, newness, within our ecclesial environment.
Then in a confident, well projected voice, Bishop Ellinah said, ‘I, your Bishop, thank you for your welcome and prayers, and I assure you that I will lead my diocese in a godly manner.’
Yes, it has happened! The thunder is rumbling as I write: we have witnessed a great occasion, and now it does indeed seem that the heavens are about to fall upon us – the falling of rain, which this country and its people so desperately need. The ‘cosmic powers’ are not upset, but rather, as we say in Sepedi, ‘pula, nala’ – ‘peace, rain, prosperity’. It is the thunderstorm and rain of blessing and the promise of good health that follows good crops.
The Guardian reports on the first woman ordained as a bishop in Southern Africa:
When Thabo Makgoba, archbishop of Cape Town and head of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA), boarded a plane for Swaziland on Friday, he noticed something special about his fellow passengers. One, he noted, was a woman who had become South Africa’s first female defence minister in 2009; another who, several years ago, was Cape Town’s first black female mayor. “Perhaps it was coincidence, but I could not help but notice,” he wrote on his blog. “It felt as if it was almost choreographed – foreshadowing the new ‘first’ for women for which we were heading.”
The next day, before a crowd of thousands, 61-year-old Ellinah Wamukoya was consecrated as the first female bishop of Swaziland and the first woman to enter the Anglican episcopate in Africa. It was, as Makgoba said, a “momentous occasion”; a sign, perhaps, that his church was keeping pace with social change. ACSA joins the handful of churches in the Anglican communion – among them Australia, Canada and Episcopalians of the United States – who have swept away centuries of entrenched sexism and allowed women to become bishops
Bishop Elllinah Bishop of Swaziland and the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion in Africa with Archbishop Thabo: