Tributes pour in for respected cleric


Tributes are pouring in following the death of liberation struggle theologian Bishop Nkosinathi Vika, of the Ethopian Charismatic Church.Vika, 86, died peacefully at his New Brighton home, surrounded by his wife, Lizeka, 80, and children last week.Former Port Elizabeth Anglican Bishop Bethlehem Nopece described Vika as not easily swayed politically – a sensible man who loved his family.“He was not persuaded by the wind of political manipulation going on at the time.“He was a man of deep faith. I was not even aware he was unwell and his death came as a shock to me.”Nopece said Vika had been pleasant to work with in church circles.Businessman Mkhuseli Jack said Vika exemplified solid love of a man for his family.“He believed strongly in family values. He was there at my wedding in 1990.“His own children were in exile, therefore he understood and identified with the anger of young people during the liberation struggle,” he said.ANC provincial spokesperson Gift Ngqondi described Vika as a “tireless cleric, prominent human rights leader and anti-apartheid struggle activist who was instrumental in achieving peace and healing during the turbulent years of repression and apartheid”.The highly respected cleric, who was born in Shawbury in the Transkei, was one of the familiar figures of the clergy who took up the fight against social injustice as far back as 1976 when they attended and conducted prayers at the funerals of police brutality victims.Though he was a strong and spiritual man, Vika could never isolate the church from the day-to-day hardship the people were facing, Ngqondi said.His daughter-in-law, Nomfundo Vika, said the late bishop was an ardent supporter of education.“Not only was he encouraging his grandchildren to be educated, he led by example by graduating with a master’s degree in theology at UPE [now Nelson Mandela University].“He would spend his last cent for the education of the grandchildren.“He wanted to make them happy no matter what it took,” Nomfundo, 47, said.Vika did his primary and high schooling at Shawbury Mission School and later Clarkbury High School in Transkei.After years of working in East London in a drycleaning business, he changed his life after being converted in 1960 by revered evangelist Nicholas Bhengu.His acceptance of Christ encouraged him to enrol at bible colleges such as Sweetwater Bible School for formal studies.After his ordination, he served in numerous circuits and places in SA.Vika, while he was ministering to families who lost their own children and others in detention and exile, was a parent who lived with the pain of having two of his own sons in exile in ANC camps.It was during those times he went to Lesotho and Zambia, where he met Chris Hani.According to Zola Mtatsi – a student leader in the late 1970s – Vika was one of those clergymen who restored the credibility of the church in turbulent times.Mtatsi reminisced about how the church lost ground in the early days of the student uprising in 1976 by initially taking a neutral side.“It was the likes of Vika who brought the church close to the struggle.”Vika is survived by his wife Lizeka, sons Lindokuhle, 51, and Vuyani, 49, and three grandchildren.His funeral will be held on Thursday at 9am at the Nangoza Jebe Hall, New Brighton.

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