Original Research

The Reverend Kenneth Mosley Spooner: African-American missionary to the BaFokeng of Rustenburg district, South Africa, 1915-1937

Bernard K. Mbenga
New Contree | Vol 81 | a66 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/nc.v81i0.66 | © 2023 Bernard K. Mbenga | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 January 2023 | Published: 30 December 2018

About the author(s)

Bernard K. Mbenga, North-West University, South Africa

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This article examines the missionary and educational work and impact of Kenneth Spooner, an African-American missionary among the BaFokeng African community in Rustenburg district, South Africa from 1915 to 1937. Originally from Barbados, Spooner immigrated to the USA from where he came to South Africa as an International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC) missionary. Spooner’s church became very popular among the African communities of Rustenburg. His school, for example, for the first time in the region used English as a medium of teaching, unlike the much older German Lutheran Church school’s teaching medium of Setswana; in the mid-1910s in rural South Africa, a black man preaching only in English, with another black person interpreting into an African language, was a spectacle – and another of Spooner’s draw-cards. The article situates Spooner and his work in the sociopolitical context of agitation by white politicians for more and stronger racial discrimination and segregation.


South Africa; Rustenburg District; BaFokeng; Spooner; Missionaries; Setswana; Lutherans; Hermmansburger


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