Project Canterbury  

Charles Johnson of Zululand

By A. W. Lee

[no place:] The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 1930.

Foreword by the Rt. Rev. Wilmot L. Vyvyan

CHARLES JOHNSON was a remarkable man; a personality; a pioneer in a country of pioneers; above all, a lover of the native people. For fifty years he lived amongst the Zulus, a pastor of souls first of all; teacher, evangelist, preacher, leader, and also architect and builder, carpenter and stonemason, farmer and traveller, with no mean medical skill; and a man of sound judgment, of unconquerable perseverance and hopefulness, never daunted, and always ready to see things in a fresh light; tender as a woman in heart and manner, yet capable of righteous wrath at iniquity and cruelty.

Archdeacon Lee knew him well from 1903 onwards, worked with him, was as a son to him, and when he was called away to the land beyond the veil, became .his successor at St. Augustine's, as had been desired. This book shows the man in his proper setting, in the frame of the ideas that he lived amongst. It sketches the history of the Zulu people and their ways and conditions of life, past and present, with the light thrown strongly on the central figure. We are thus helped to understand him as he was, amid the varied scenes of his life, and the questions that agitate the minds of those who, like Archdeacon Lee, reflect upon what might be and may be, as Charles Johnson himself would think and say.--It is not only a memoir of the priest and father, but also of the lover of a people often misunderstood, often unwisely handled and dealt with without consideration, hindered by old superstitions and traditions, yet with noble traits of true men and women, traits to be preserved if the race is to win its way under new conditions into the freedom of a Christian people. It is well that Charles Johnson should have a biographer so sympathetic with his outlook, and so understanding in his treatment of his subject. I deem it a privilege to be asked to add my tribute in these few words; as one who knew and loved the nobility of Johnson of Zululand, the man and missionary, honoured and respected by Europeans as well as by natives, and held in high esteem by men of public life and notable position, as well as by his neighbours; and most of all dear to his family of sons and daughters, whom, with his brave wife, he led in the path of upright life and unselfish service.


Project Canterbury