“Nosutu, the Mother of Soga” (Excerpt)

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Mar. 2, 1874.] United Presbyterian Missionary Record. 53
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Nosutu's Letter.

Dictated by herself, and written in Caffre by Tause, the next in the family after Mr. Soga.

Emgwali, October 1873    

My Kind Friends,—For a long time I have wished to thank you for what you have done for me.  Beloved friends, to-day I thank you for what you have done for my son and for myself.  I thank you for what he was taught, and for what he was prepared for, by your means.  From the beginning you acted with great wisdom towards him, and thereby conferred privileges and marvellous blessings upon us all.  You opened up every path for him by which he was directed in the way of salvation, and which you also showed unto his people as well as to himself and to his family.

Beloved, your work to my son I represent with the words which were said respecting man :  The Creator first prepared a place for man before He created him.  When He had finished all that was right for man, He created him, and placed him in the midst of every advantage.  His commandment instructed him, like him who has departed.  Thus it was so.

What can I speak to you ?  Dearly beloved, that which you began did you not finish ?   You gave the blood of your blood* to my son. I have seen it with my own eyes.  That event taught us to know your habits, your disposition, and your speech.  That great event united us very closely together.  In effect it seemed to say to my son :  'Tiyo Soga, go, take this great enlightener amongst your countrymen.'  My friends, what can I say to you ?  He is gone to the place prepared for him :  look there for him !  Pardon me in referring to this matter.  Beloved, what gift can be more highly esteemed than this ?   Rejoice, beloved !  we also rejoice with the churches in Scotland.  Rejoice ye !  Canzibe, the bright, the morning star of spring, has already risen upon Africa.  The first teacher belonging to our countrymen was sent forth by you.  Be glad, ye people of Caffraria !   Amaxosa, the first home of my son, now lying desolate and forlorn, speaks of your laborious toil.  Rejoice ye !  These five gum trees still standing remind me that, while the desolate and deserted homes of our countrymen are covered with the couch grass, it is not so with respect to that in which my son abides this day.  His home is now far distant from these gum trees.  Vain, then, is it for you to care so much, and to be so anxious for the things of this world.

But now there is a thing present to-day by which I see him,* and yet do not see him.  By the kindness of one whom I do not know, there is the stone that preserves the name of my son, in order that the generation present, and generations yet to come, may be told of him whom we so greatly loved.  That stone is the first, so far as I know, that has been erected by you (the churches in Scotland), and on that account my heart is exceeding glad.

My friends, I thank that kind friend for the words which he wrote for that stone.  I continue still to hear them.  It is written that a prophet said to a certain man, 'Go, wash seven times in Jordan, and thou shalt be made whole.'  He went.  But the prophet did not personally appear :  he merely spoke the word, although unseen.  My thanks I give to that unseen friend who wrote ; and true it is that the works of a good man will follow him.

There is one also who long ago began to break up the new ground in my son, and who, although not now in this world, is entitled to my thanks.  I thank our old missionary, Mr. Chalmers.

It is proper also that I should thank Mr. Govan, who so greatly benefited my son by his instructions while he was under his hand. Mr. Niven I also thank for all his labours in behalf of my son.   Messrs. Cumming, Chalmers, Sclater, R. Ross, J. Davidson, Longdon, and R. Irvine—I thank them all for their labour in connection with the burial of my son.

My beloved friends, what more can I say ?   I conclude with respectful salutations.  Oh, pray for me to the Lord, my friends, that when I reach that day which has neither a yesterday nor a to-morrow—a day which has no end—I may receive strength to sustain me in my unutterable weakness.—May you live happy !

Nosutu Soga Jotelo.    

* Referring to his marriage.
* She refers here to the marble tablet set up in the Emgwali Church, presented by Mr. John McFarlane, sculptor, Dundee.  The inscription upon it was composed by the late Dr. William Anderson, and the expense of its transmission to the Emgwali and its erection there were provided by Mr. William White Millar.

Item Details

Author(s) & contributor(s): Anonymous; John F. Cumming; Anonymous; Tause; NoSuthu Soga Jotelo

Date(s): October 1873; 2 March 1874

Form & transmission history: Original letter, as dictated to a Xhosa individual, then conveyed to and translated by a British missionary and published as part of an essay in a British missionary periodical.

Original publication details: Missionary Record of the United Presbyterian Church New Series, 5, no. 44 (2 March 1874): 53

Digital edition & date: One More Voice, 2020

Critical editing & encoding: Joanne Ruth Davis, Adrian S. Wisnicki

Cite this digital edition (MLA): Anonymous; John F. Cumming; Anonymous; Tause; NoSuthu Soga Jotelo. “‘Nosutu, the Mother of Soga’ (Excerpt)” (October 1873; 2 March 1874). Joanne Ruth Davis, Adrian S. Wisnicki, eds. One More Voice, site launch edition, 2020, https://onemorevoice.org/html/transcriptions/liv_020043_TEI.html.

Rights: Critically-edited text copyright One More Voice. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

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