Richard Moko

October 30, 2006

Richard MokoRichard Moko was a Xhosa who was the first Black ordained SDA minister in South Africa. Unfortunately, very little is known about his life and work–and some of what little information there is–is conflcting. He may have been a minister in the Congregational Church previously. Moko was baptised in the Kimberley in 1895 and granted a licence to preach in 1897. He worked mainly in the Eastern Cape at King William Town, East London, and various rural areas. He wrote the first tract that the SDA church in South Africa published—in 1895—in an African language (Xhosa).

There is a good article by Keith Tankard about one of Moko’s experiences as an evangelist online: Richard Moko: The Very Strange Case of an African Missionary.

The only other online information that I’m aware of is a copy of Moko’s entry in the SDA Encyclopedia which has been made available through the online Dictionary of African Christian Biography project here.

I scanned the above picture from the June 15, 1971 edition of the Trans-Africa Divison Outlook –apologies for its poor quality–I have not been able to find an original copy of the photo. Strangely enough, the article itself: “Journey into Yesterday: Our History–8” by Jean Cripps, p5-8; contains no information on Moko at all–despite the presence of his picture! A group picture taken c. 1907 of SDA Church workers in South Africa includes Moko. The picture is published February 15, 1971 edition of the Trans-Africa Divison Outlook across pages 6&7 in the article: “Napoleonic Wars Enrich Africa: Our History–4” by Jean Cripps, p5-8; but again no mention is made of Moko in the text.

J. B. Cooks “Richard Moko—First Indigenous Minister of our Church in South Africa”; (A 2 page paper available from the Adventist Heritage Centre at Helderberg College.) contains some information, though I’m not convinced of the correctness of much of its content.



  1. This is a wonderful information on Moko, little as it might be. The more I realise the information on him is lacking, the more I become interested in it. After reading your article, I asked these questions:

    1. The SDA Encyclopaedia says he was baptised in Kimberly in 1895 and also appears in your article. The unverified information that I have is that he was baptised in Cape Town after he met, among others, Mr Haupt, Elder Smiles and George Shone, before coming to King William’s Town. How verified is Kimberley’s information?
    2. Your opening line in the article says, correctly so I think, Moko was a Xhosa. The SDA Encyclopaedia says he was a Fingo yet Moko was of the Gatyeni clan which is Xhosa! How to correct what is in the world wide publicised encyclopaedia (including the Kimberley issue on point 1 – if incorrect)?
    3. Dr Keith Tankard is a non-Adventist, private, academic and secular historian but took interest in the Moko’s story and wrote about it, why, in your opinion, would ASDAH and SDA academics not be interested in writing on a man that played so much role in the advancement of Adventeism among the Africans thouhg have his picture in the group photo (struggling to open the picture)?
    4. Why do you say you are “not convinced of the correctness of much of” Moko’s information at Adventist Heritage Centre at Helderberg College and that the “little information there is – is conflicting”?

    I would appreciate your response to these questions.

    • Hi Hlanga,

      As you know I am excited that we are capturing the history of our church especialy as it pertains to Black Adventist heritage.My book, Tears of the Black pulpit, uses, among other sources Dr Tankard’s research on Moko quite significantly. Much of Moko’s history is oral-sourced and is bound to vary depending on what source you use. I am interested to gather as much info from other sources as available. You and I may also need to compare notes on this great man.

      Pastor Mzanempi C Nhlapo

  2. i am interested in the history of pathfinder development during Moko’s time and afterward.

  3. I think Richard Moko should be honored. I dream and wish of an SDA center of influence which will be named after him in South Africa.

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