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Mkhulu Myaka – The Good Shepherd of Ekuvukeni

Every year thousands of black people in South Africa must leave their homes. The South African Government moves these people to other places. These places are called ‘resettlement areas’. Life in resettlement areas is very hard. Mkhulu Alfred Myaka died at a resettlement area called Ekuvukeni. Here is his story.


The people of Ekuvukeni are very sad. They are sad because Mkhulu Myaka died. He died in June 1981. He was their preacher.

Mkhulu Myaka looked after his people for more than 50 years. He went to many places with his people. He loved his people as a shepherd loves his sheep.

Mandla Mbele is a church worker at Ekuvukeni. Mbele worked with Mkhulu Myaka. Mbele said: “Mkhulu loved his people as he loved himself. All his life he tried to help and teach his people. He was ready to die for his people.”


Mkhulu Myaka was born 1899. He was born at Vryheid, in Natal. He went to school up to Form Two.

When Mkhulu was a young man, he went to stay in Benoni. He worked as a gardener. All his life he loved the land. He loved to grow plants.

In Egoli, Mkhulu Myaka met a young woman called Bhadula Zwane. Myaka and Bhadula fell in love. They soon got married.


After a few years, Mkhulu and his wife went back to Natal. Mkhulu saw that his people were suffering. He wanted to help his people.

So when he was 26 years old, he went to a church college. At the college he learned to be a preacher.

After Mkhulu Myaka became a preacher, he went to many places to serve his church. His wife always helped him in his work.

One place where Mkhulu worked was Nkunzi. Nkunzi is a village in Natal, about 40 kilometres from Ladysmith.


There is coal at Nkunzi. The people at Nkunzi were happy because they got free coal for their fires. When the Myaka family was at Nkunzi, there was a bad fire. The grass near the church caught fire. The fire destroyed the church building. The fire also destroyed Myaka’s church clothes.

Mkhulu Myaka was very sad. The people of Nkunzi wanted to help him. The men helped to build the church again. The women sewed new church clothes for Mkhulu.


In 1950, the church leaders said that Mkhulu must go to Roosboom. Roosboom is about 15 kilometres from Ladysmith.

The Myaka family lived at Roosboom for over 25 years. They were very happy at Roosboom. Mkhulu and his wife had one child. The child was a girl. Their daughter died when she was very young.

But the Myakas adopted four children. They adopted two boys and two girls. Mkhulu and his wife looked after the children like their own sons and daughters.


The Myaka family had plenty of land at Roosboom. They kept cattle, sheep, goats, horses and chickens on the land. They also grew crops.

Mkhulu woke up every morning at 5 o’clock to look after his crops and animals. Then he rode on his horse to visit his people.

Other families at Roosboom also had big gardens. Often they asked Mkhulu for help with their gardens. He always helped the people with their problems.

Mkhulu used to say to his people: “A garden is very important. If a family has a garden, then they can grow crops to eat. People will never be hungry if they have a garden. Maybe those people do not have a lot of money, but they can live well.”


In 1975 the South African Government said that people of Roosboom must move to Ekuvukeni and Ezakheni. These are resettlement areas in KwaZulu, in Natal.

The Government wanted the land at Roosboom for white farmers.

The people did not want to move away from Roosboom. They lived at Roosboom for a long time. They had strong houses and big gardens. They had a place to grow crops and keep cattle.


Some soldiers came to Roosboom in trucks. The soldiers had fierce dogs. The soldiers forced the people to move.

Some people went to Ekuvukeni, and some went to Ezakheni. The Myaka family went to Ekuvukeni. Ekuvukeni is about 40 kilometres from Ladysmith.

The people moved during winter. The weather was very cold. Frost lay on the ground. There were no houses at Ekuvukeni. Each family had a small piece of ground with a tin toilet.


Some church people helped the Myaka family build a small shack. Five adults and five children lived in the shack. All their things were also in the shack.

Mkhulu was very sad because the people do not have gardens at Ekuvukeni. The people cannot grow crops or keep animals because their piece of land is too small.


People must buy food in shops because they cannot grow their food. There is one food shop at Ekuvukeni. The food in that shop is very expensive.

Some people catch a bus to Ladysmith to buy food. But the bus is also expensive. A single bus ticket to Ladysmith costs one rand.

Many people at Ekuvukeni are very poor. They cannot afford to buy food in the shop or catch a bus to Ladysmith.

Poor people often came to ask Mkhulu for a place to sleep and some food.

Mkhulu was very kind. He never told a person to go away when they asked for help.


Many people get sick at Ekuvukeni. Those people sometimes die. They get sick in their stomachs because the water at Ekuvukeni is very bad.

And the toilets are very bad. The people must use bucket toilets. Often the men do not come to empty the buckets. Then the buckets get full. The people must use the bushes for a toilet.


In June, 1981, Mkhulu Myaka got sick in his stomach. He died on June 10. His people miss him very much. They will always remember the Good Shepherd who looked after them.


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