Makers and Shapers Profile


John William Colenso
Commissioned Contributor
Dates of Existence
24 January 1814 - 20 July 1883
[Source - Benathi Marufu for FHYA, 2022, using the Dictionary of African Christian Biography material: John William Colenso was the first Anglican Bishop of Natal. Consecrated to the new diocese of Natal in 1853, Colenso settled there two years later. He promoted an active missionary campaign among the Zulu, translated many religious works into Zulu, and published a number of non-orthodox treatises which aroused considerable controversy. His tolerance of polygamy among converts, and his frank and non-canonical replies to their questions about the Bible led to his being tried for heresy, deposed and later excommunicated (1863). London law courts reinstated him, establishing a major precedent which broke the hold of the Church of England on the overseas dioceses (1866). Publicity of his case brought Natal and Zululand permanently to the attention of the English public. Colenso was an outspoken and influential advocate of African rights. He vigorously protested Natal’s banishment of chief LANGALIBALELE (1873), and later helped to secure his release. He opposed the Zulu War (1879) and later helped to secure the reinstatement of CETSHWAYO to the Zulu kingship (1883). Many members of Colenso’s family were also active advocates of African causes. Most notable, perhaps was his daughter, Harriette Colenso (1847-1932), a prolific pamphleteer. She took a leading part in organizing the defence of the Zulu chief, DINUZULU, after the rebellion of 1906.]


Type  Date  Item 
Writing before 1861 Zulu-English Dictionary
Writing before 1859 Izindatyana Zabantu Kanye Nezindaba Zas'eNatal
Writing before 1855 First Steps in Zulu-[Kword]: an Abridgement of the Elementary Grammar of the Zulu-[Kword] Language
Writing .c.1855 Ten Weeks in Natal
Writing before 1905 Zulu-English Dictionary
Editing November 1877 - April 1878 A Vist to King Ketshwayo
Editing October 1859-1960 Three Native Accounts of the Visit of the Bishop of Natal in September and October, 1859, to Umpande, King of the Zulus
Writing before 1862 The Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua Critically Examined
Writing before 1864 On the Missions to the Zulus in Natal and Zululand. A Lecture.