People and Places

People and Places is compiled by Maggy Clarke. Extracts from People and Places may be reproduced if author is acknowledged.

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Cameron at the Cathedral organ

People and Places, May 2019

On Good Friday, 19 April, we had the joy of welcoming our new Director of Music, Cameron Luke, who has finally arrived from the UK! It was exactly two years since we bade farewell to AJ Bethke. Although Cameron’s appointment was announced at the time of AJ’s departure, the process of his obtaining a visa to work here was tortuous, and there were times when some of us gave up hope altogether. We thank God that Cameron himself never gave up, and eventually his persistence paid off, and he has been rewarded with a five-year visa, renewable. A well-qualified and experienced church musician who has worked both in the UK and Norway, Cameron is passionate about the value of music as an integral part of worship, and is longing to see this Cathedral become a beacon of musical excellence. The bell ringers can also be delighted that he is a keen ringer, who would like to be part of a revival of bell ringing at the Cathedral. For more about Cameron, see the our music page. The Dean and Cathedral family are grateful to the team of volunteer organists and pianists who ensured that there was accompaniment at every service during the past two years: Markus Mostert, Peter Breetzke, John Jackson, Penny Whitford and others.

There was a special moment during the early morning vigil service on Easter Day, when after a long period of quiet, listening to Old Testament lessons and reciting psalms, the congregation was startled by a resounding chord from the organ, followed by a wonderful fanfare. There was no doubt, our new Organist had arrived, and his talents were being demonstrated in no uncertain fashion! Later that day, the Dean and Claire welcomed anyone who would like to, to come to the Deanery to “bring and braai”. This was an ideal opportunity for Cameron and parishioners to meet one another.

At the Good Friday three-hour devotion, members of the Cathedral family highlighted aspects of Christ’s passion through the eyes of various witnesses: The sister of the penitent thief (Claire Nye Hunter); Peter (Idowu Akinloye), John (John Jackson); Mary the Mother of Jesus (Ayanda Mpofu), Pilate (Theo Duxbury) and the Centurion (Andrew Hunter). Not in the photo was Mary Magdalene (Siphokazi Njokweni). Click on the names to read their text.

We warmly welcome Luvuyo Mvaphantsi, who has been placed at the Cathedral for pastoral experience, as part of his BTh (final year) degree. He and his family are not strangers to us, having been worshipping with us. Luvuyo is a Lay Minister, and his children are servers.

Congratulations to Dean Andrew Hunter on receiving his doctorate on 5 April 2019, at the Graduation ceremony of Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth. The subject of his thesis was “Conflict resolution and campus protests at Rhodes University, 2015 – 2016”. Paul and June Walters, Geoff and Margie Antrobus, went down with Claire to support him at the Graduation, Paul and Geoff having been among the proof-readers of Andrew’s thesis.

June & Paul Walters, Claire & Andrew Hunter, Geoff & Margie Antrobus

Ayanda and Theo

Congratulations also to all Cathedral students, past and present, who received their degrees at the Rhodes Graduation this April. These included Ayanda Dabengwa, Theo Duxbury, Namso Nyamela, Ayabulela Matolweni, Anelisa Kelemi, Ogone Mokobe, Ikhona Mvaphantsi – and of course, the Revd Dr Percy Chinganga, who is on the staff of the Cathedral as well as the College of the Transfiguration. Well done, everyone! For more photos, see our Gallery.

The Cathedral Artists-in-Residence, Chris and Julia Mann, are at present ‘Artists-at-Large’, spending some months in Europe. As well as helping to look after Chris’s stroke-survivor sister, Jackie Shipster, in the UK, Chris attended an international poetry festival in Vicenza, Italy, at which he read a poem ‘A Pilgrimage to Italy’.

St Paul’s Melbourne

June Venn and Elizabeth Breetkze travelled to Australia together in April, although their destinations were different. Elizabeth visited her sister in Sydney, and travelled with her by road all the way to Canberra and Melbourne. She was impressed with Australia’s cleanliness, and good environmental policies, as well as the friendliness of everyone she met. Highlights included attending a show on a stage floating in Sydney Harbour (though the audience was on land), and visiting a beautifully laid out war museum in Canberra. June, after spending a couple of nights with Elizabeth’s sister, travelled on to Melbourne to spend time with a cousin and her family, whose apartment was within walking distance of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral. June loved worshipping there, and felt completely at home at their services, so similar to ours. Both travellers enjoyed beautiful autumn weather, and at the end of three weeks flew home together.

Mike Kunz on a visit to the Cathedral parish in 2017

We give thanks for the life and work of Michael Künz, who died on 6 April. Michael worked in Growing the Church’s Media Department in Cape Town. He developed our Cathedral website, as well as websites for many dioceses, parishes and organisations in our Province, including the Diocese of Grahamstown. Prayers are asked for his family. After a battle with pancreatic cancer, Claire Hunter’s cousin, Anne-Christine Houriet, died in Switzerland on 26 April. The family are grateful for the prayers of many, and that she died peacefully in a loving and caring Hospice environment.

Very much in our prayers have been the people of Mozambique, hit by cyclone Kenneth before they had begun to recover from the devastation caused by the previous cyclone, only six weeks earlier. We remember also the flood-stricken areas in KwaZulu-Natal, with all the loss of life and homes, as well as those bereaved and injured in the Easter Day attacks in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka. The fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, chilled all those around the world who value historic places of worship. We give thanks that despite all the destruction nobody was killed or seriously injured, and the walls and towers were saved – and even the organ.

On Freedom Day this year, 27 April, the destination for State President Cyril Ramaphosa was right here in Makhanda, where he spoke at the Miki Yili Stadium. Grocott’s Mail described as a “highlight of the day” the singing of the Kwantu Community Choir, conducted by none other than Kutlwano ‘Kepa’ Kepadisa. The President seemed to agree, as he danced and sang alongside them, and even took a turn at conducting. Kepa reported that he exclaimed “I really would love to join your choir.” Bayanda Mthetho was on the keyboard, and Asakhe Cuntsulana played the drum.

Photo credit: The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa

Stop press news! Just making it into April, Lumnene Ukhanyo Madiba arrived on the last day of the month, to the great joy of his parents Luthando and Lusanda, and Lulibo who is now a Big Sister! We pray God’s special blessings on this brand-new addition to the Cathedral family.

People and Places, April 2019

The month of March was a busy one at the Cathedral. The Mothers’ Union began the month with a fund-raiser in St George’s Hall, which was a great success.

Pearl Nzuza, Thami Latha and Jonathan Bukutu

The College of the Transfiguration has sent us three third-year students to join our ministry team in 2019, Pearl Nzuza and Thami Latha both from the Diocese of Natal, and Jonathan Bukutu, a deacon from Niassa Diocese in Mozambique. We welcomed them on 3 March, and at the same service five new Probationers joined the Choir.

Shrove Tuesday fell on 5 March, and the annual Pancake Pandemonium took place in St George’s Hall. Congratulations to Sally Terry and her team, who this year raised a record-breaking amount of over R7,000. On the following evening, there was a good attendance at the Ash Wednesday Eucharist, and Kepa’s Kwantu Choir joined the Cathedral Choir in singing the Miserere by Allegri. Kwantu returned to sing at a Sung Eucharist on 24 March, when the juniors choristers were on holiday.



March was a good month for congratulations: Two Cathedral young people were appointed Head Girls of their schools: Liyabona Nqumani of Victoria Girls High School, and Kaede Bridger of Victoria Primary. Prof Chris Mann, one of our Artists-in-Residence, was honoured for a lifetime of distinguished service to English. The gold medal was awarded to the poet by the English Academy of Southern Africa in collaboration with Rhodes University’s Department of Literary Studies, the Institute for the Study of English in Africa, and the National English Literary Museum. Percy Chinganga will be receiving his Doctorate from Rhodes at the coming Graduation, and Dean Andrew has been awarded his Doctorate from Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth. His thesis was on “Conflict resolution and campus protests at Rhodes University, 2015 – 2016” and he will be graduating on 5 April. Very well done to everyone!

Tandiwe Gabavana

On Sunday 10 March the Dean admitted Tandiwe Gabavana as our Youth Intern. The Youth Intern programme includes giving work experience, training in administrative skills, exposure to governance, personal growth and development, and discipleship. We give thanks for Tandiwe, and pray for her in this new role.

Lunga Dongwana

On 16 March there was an Ordination of Priests in the Cathedral, and one of our own was among the 19 men and women ordained, Lunga Dongwana. The service was magnificent, with a packed Cathedral and rousing music. By contrast the following afternoon Lunga celebrated the Eucharist for the very first time, at a quiet but manifestly holy service held in the sanctuary of the Cathedral. Christ Church incumbent Vic Graham gave a challenging and inspiring homily addressed specifically to Lunga, but applicable to all present. We pray for Lunga and his family as he begins this new phase of ministry among us.

We had a happy Vestry meeting on 17 March, and ask God’s blessing on our new Parish Council, giving thanks for a team which reflects the diversity of our Cathedral family. Ronaldo Burger is joined as Churchwarden by Lungile Penxa, and the other Councillors are Katie Appollis, Rodney Bridger, Theodore Duxbury, Siyabulela Fobosi and Ian Meiklejohn. In addition, Ayanda Dabengwa represents the Cathedral Student Ministry ex officio. They were installed as church officers on 24 March.

Installation of Church Officers

Heather Tracey fell on 9 March, breaking a hip, and spent some time in Mercantile Hospital in Port Elizabeth as she needed two operations, the second a full hip replacement. Please pray for her and Andrew. Our prayers are very much with the people of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi after the devastating cyclone and floods. Our Archbishop has appealed for donations. For details click here. There was the terrible massacre of Muslim worshippers by a gunman in Christchurch, New Zealand. Another tragedy was the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane, with the death of all those on board. They included delegates, and one speaker, on the way to a conference on climate change in Nairobi, Kenya. We pray for all affected, including Dean Andrew and Claire’s friends Bob and Rachel Mash, who attended the conference. Sad news has reached us from Cape Town, where the husband of former Cathedral Choir member Sue Abraham, Trevor, died suddenly following an operation. We pray for Sue, and their family and friends. And prayers are asked for Siyabulela Bam, whose wife Nontando died, also suddenly. He was one of the COTT students attached to the Cathedral in 2017, and was recently ordained priest.

In March we said farewell to two of our senior members, who have moved to be closer to family members. Jenny Reynolds has relocated to Cape Town, and Florence Pswarayi to Harare, Zimbabwe. The closure of the St Luke’s Hospice at the CR Sisters means the end of an era, as the remaining residents all had to find new homes at the end of March. We pray especially for Cathedral parishioners Beth Denton and Ruth Brandt, now at Somerset Place, and for Audrey Holmes who has moved within the building to stay in St Peter’s. May God bless them all as they settle into their new surroundings. We give thanks for the wonderful work which took place at St Luke’s, and pray for the Sisters, and for the nursing staff of St Luke’s who now have to find new employment.

When Lent comes round, many of us choose some luxury to “give up”, such as alcohol or chocolate. Few of us would have considered giving up the “luxury” of water on tap, or electricity available at the flick of a switch. Yet now that we have been forced to do that, for a few hours a day, or a few days, how conscious we are that these are indeed luxuries, which we have too long taken for granted. And we are reminded that for the majority of the world’s citizens, and for huge numbers of people even in our own town, water does not come out of a tap inside the house, and electricity is not available at all. The Grahamstown Residents Association is encouraging people who do have water, to use as little of it as possible, so that people in other, higher, parts of the town may have some too. If we are fortunate enough to have one or more rain-water tanks, we can use some of God’s bountiful gift of rain, instead of drawing all our water from the town supply. In other words, we must do our best to share. May we take to heart the lessons of Lenten load-shedding, and may God bless us with more rain!

People and Places, March 2019

Nzwana Ndlwana conducting the Back to School choir

In February the rhythm of Cathedral life resumes in earnest. Students return, and the Marimba group, Junior Church and Student Services all get going, enriching our worship. It is particularly exciting to welcome new students, both at the morning services, and at the 6:30 pm Sunday student services. Several first year Rhodes students have joined Cathedral Student Ministry. The newly elected Chairperson of CSM is Theodore Duxbury. Revd Claire is going to be presenting a series (interactive Bible Study Sermons) on “Love”, entitled “Falling in love with Jesus is the best thing I’ve ever done”. The first Sunday in February saw the Cathedral hosting the annual ecumenical Back to School service, with a special Back to School choir conducted by Kutlwano Kepadisa (Kepa), which of course included the junior members of the Cathedral Choir. Canon Melany Adonis was the preacher.

Janine Jegels

The Cathedral Office welcomed a new Parish Secretary, Janine Jegels, who is working alongside her predecessor Lou-Anne Liebenberg, now Parish Administrator. We give thanks for her appointment and pray for her in this new role.

The plight of our town continues to be a cause of concern. Prayers are asked for our new Mayor Mzukisi Mphahlwa and his team as they grapple with water shortages, power cuts, and a municipal workers’ strike on top of the usual problems of potholes and stray livestock on the roads. The water emergency has a number of causes, among them inadequate maintenance of infrastructure, made worse by the continuing drought. The situation hit the national headlines, and to our great relief that splendid organisation Gift of the Givers rolled into town with a convoy of seven big trucks, all bearing water in 5 litre bottles to be distributed to those who had none at all. Not only that, but they kept up the deliveries, and kick-started a process of drilling bore-holes, which are already yielding water to augment that supplied by our sadly low dams. We give thanks for this initiative, and the speed with which this body comes to the rescue in emergencies in this country and around the world, and continue to pray for rain.

Level Four loadshedding by Eskom took the country (and even the State President) by surprise, but even before that we had a Sunday without electricity on 10 February, of which we were forewarned as it was for the purpose of maintenance. We were grateful to John Jackson, who volunteered to play the piano for all three services that day. This also had the result of giving our organists Peter Breetzke and Markus Mostert a day off. The third service of the day was a Choral Evensong which focussed on George Herbert, a poet priest who lived long before the days of electric light. The choir sang a setting of his poem ‘Come my way’ by AJ Bethke, and the hymns were all settings of other George Herbert poems. Paul Walters gave an inspiring homily about this poet whose works he knows so well, using the light of a seven-branch candelabra, an appropriately 17th-century touch.

Prayers are asked for Peter Terry, brother of Pat, for May de Vos’s granddaughter Trevin Kingsley and for Trent Hoskins, cousin of Lou-Anne Liebenberg. We also pray for the family of one of our choristers, Siyolisa Sandi, who were the victims of not one but two robberies on the weekend of 17 February. We give thanks for the miraculous healing of Gill Meyer’s grandson, James, in the UK. He was seriously ill with a mystery condition affecting his eyes. Medical experts are baffled and we are thankful to God!

A group of Grade 4 girls from DSG had the opportunity to go round the Cathedral, and even up the tower, on 21 February, when Basil Mills led them on a tour. Anyone interested in going up the tower should make a note that the Bell Tower Tours, which have proved so popular during the National Arts Festival, will be back on the Spiritfest programme this year.

On Sunday morning, 24 February, four Cathedral young people were admitted as members of the Diocesan Youth Guild: Kutlwano Kepadisa, Thandiwe Gabavana, Mandilakhe Ncwadi and Busisiwe Soxujwa. We give thanks for them, and pray for the Cathedral DYG Branch.



One of the highlights of the Makhanda/ Grahamstown year is Masicule. This year the two concerts took place on 24 and 25 February. Not only was the Monument Theatre almost completely full, but the stage was crammed with almost 700 singers, most of them from our local schools, town and township, private and public, all singing joyfully together. And the official conductor was none other than Kepa, while the official accompanist on keyboard was Bayanda Mthetho, our schoolboy organist! They both acquitted themselves brilliantly. The Cathedral family can be enormously proud of these talented young musicians. In 2018 Kepa was the recipient of the Masicule Gift, a generous cash contribution which went a long way towards paying for the Kwantu Community Choir’s travel to Pretoria for the World Choir Games. And this year it is Bayanda, now in Grade 10, who is receiving the Masicule Gift. This will enable him to receive piano tuition from Liz Campbell, who will be preparing him to take his Associate Diploma in piano. Naturally Kwantu Choir and the juniors of the Cathedral Choir were among the choirs featured, as well as Byrdsongs, and the list of soloists included Cathedral choristers Sixolile Mafani, Alizwa Tom, Lelethu Maboza and Hlomela Tyatya. Nzulu Nzwana, our Head Chorister, conducted one of the songs. What a privilege it was for these singers to be alongside the guest soloist, Vusi ‘the Voice’ Mhlasela, in this wonderful feast of song, and what a joy it was to see and hear this demonstration of what South Africa could and should be like.

Kepa conducting the Masicule massed choir


People and Places, February 2019

A warm welcome to all those returning to Makhanda/ Grahamstown after their holidays, and to those arriving in the city for the first time.

Mary-Ellen Ashcroft reunited with friends

We welcomed a guest preacher on 2 December, the Revd Dr Mary-Ellen Ashcroft. From the USA, she is a long-time friend of Revd Dr Claire. On 9 December two new members were admitted to the Mothers’ Union of the Cathedral, Nomakwezi Gabavana, the Leader, and Thembi Myolwa.

On the Sunday before Christmas a small choir led the singing in an evening service of lessons (not all biblical) and unusual carols. The next day was Christmas Eve, when the Crib Service attracted parents, grandparents, and many children, who dressed as their favourite Nativity characters and performed an impromptu Nativity play, while a merry band of musicians – Nicola Hunter with family and friends – led the singing, this year conducted by Kutlwano Kepadisa (Kepa). Many visitors came to the Midnight Mass at which Bishop Ebenezer preached, and to the 8:30 Christmas morning service.




On 26 December a 45-minute radio programme entitled ‘The Bells of St Macartans’ was broadcast on the Irish radio stations Shannonside FM and Northern Sound FM. This was mainly concerned with three Irish Cathedrals dedicated to St Macartan, but also included a segment relating to this Cathedral. The connection was that the Dean of Grahamstown at the time when our first eight bells were installed, Frederick Williams, had grown up in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, within sound of the bells of St Macartan’s Cathedral. Those bells are hung in a circle, and Dean Williams wished to have similar circle of bells in the Cathedral in Grahamstown. The radio programme was produced and presented by Noel Murphy, who visited Grahamstown in May 2018. To listen to a podcast of the programme, which includes the sound of the St Michael’s Marimbas, click here.

The Deanery family welcomed home their student daughters for the vacation. Both have now returned to Stellenbosch. Rachel has completed her BA, but is going to spend 2018 adding Xhosa and Afrikaans to her credits, and taking a correspondence course in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Nicola enjoyed getting down and dirty in a veterinary practice during her vac. Having successfully completed three years of Medicine, she has decided to revert to her original choice of Veterinary Science! Unfortunately she missed the application deadline for Pretoria this year so will spend 2019 in Stellenbosch doing Animal Science in the hopes of transferring to Onderstepoort in 2020.

Glyn Lloyd-Jones was at home with his parents in Kokstad for the holidays, during which time they experienced six break-ins. On one occasion, Glyn was attacked. Thankfully they are all right, though very shaken. The community has rallied round and has made it possible for a security guard to be on duty watching their house. We pray for their ongoing safety and protection.

Our former Director of Music, AJ Bethke, spent Christmas in Cape Town with his parents, along with his little son Caleb (now 2¾). On 6 January Caleb was baptised in Thornton Methodist Church by his grandfather the Revd Tony Bethke, a very special moment.

Our marimba leader Asakhe Cuntsulana’s talents are not only musical. He has now published online a book of poetry: Ikhwezi Eliqaqambileyo. To order a copy, click on the picture of the book.

We rejoice with Lorraine Mullins on the birth of a grandson, and congratulate Millicent Armitage on her 93rd birthday. Millie and her daughter Gill have been much concerned with the mysterious illness of Gill’s baby grandson James Caloni in the UK. We continue to pray for his healing. Jane Bradshaw had an unpleasant experience at the end of a lovely holiday. In Cape Town airport she slipped on some steps and injured a tendon in her ankle quite seriously. Regulations at the airport denied her the use of a wheelchair – because she had not booked it in advance! We thank God that she is well on the way to recovery. Prayers are asked for Siyolisa Sandi, a chorister whose uncle has died.

Exciting news is that thanks to renewed generosity by the donors who sponsored him last years, Bayanda Mthetho, our Grade 10 organist, has his organ lessons sponsored for the whole of 2019! Congratulations to another of our choristers, Kuhle Pama, who has been elected as a Prefect at Mary Waters School. We also congratulate Liyabona Nqumani, on being chosen as Head Girl of VG for 2019, and a number of our choristers who have received Colours at Graeme College: Xolisa Foley, Nzulu Nzwana and Bayanda Mthetho for Choir, with Bayanda also receiving Cultural Colours.

Congratulations to all those who passed Matric. Victoria Girls High was one of the schools which achieved a 100% pass rate. Among the successful students were two former members of the Makana Choir School, Sine Nqumba who is going to study at NMU, and Avile Sonyamba who hopes to follow in her father’s footsteps in the SAPS. Onwaba Mafuya is going to UWC, and Tyla Fourie to UCT. From DSG, Hlumela Maqwili is also heading to UCT, and her mother Zoleka is looking forward to a three-month sabbatical during which she will concentrate on her studies.

We give thanks for the safe return of Mandilakhe Ncwadi from initiation school, and pray for God’s blessings on him in his adult life.

Lorraine Cassim has returned after an extended holiday to visit family and friends in the UK, where she has a daughter and a son, as well as the Western Cape and Port Elizabeth. Highlights of her time overseas included seeing the ‘Nutcracker’ ballet in Birmingham, and in Cape Town a visit to Robben Island and the Two Oceans Oceanarium. Maggy Clarke joined her daughter Beccy Stones and family for a week camping in Mozambique. The highlight was a boat trip to go snorkelling around a coral reef, where the fish were spectacular. In January Beth Denton enjoyed a visit from her son and daughter-in-law from the USA.

On 20 January the Dean awarded citations to three long-standing volunteers at the Cathedral who had recently stepped down from their duties, Andrew Tracey (left), Penny Whitford and Clive Whitford.  Read the citations here: Andrew TraceyPenny WhitfordClive Whitford.  Congratulations and many heartfelt thanks to these wonderful people who have given so much in the service of the Lord!

With amazement and delight the Dean has now announced that Cameron Luke, who was previously appointed as the Cathedral Director of Music, is able to come after all and take up the post. We look forward to his arrival in February, and pray for him and the choir as he takes up his duties.

The drought in this city as well as elsewhere in the country is reaching crisis proportions, and often results in disastrous fires. Lynette Marais was in Pringle Bay at the time of the fire in that area. Told to evacuate their homes, the residents of that village then found that the only road out was impassable because of the fire! We thank God that they, and Lynette, were able to return home safely. Closer to home, the Antrobus family farm dam ran dry, and they had to fetch water in a tank from Dog Dam to keep their cattle alive. The month of January ended with a well-attended ecumenical lunch-time prayer service in the Cathedral on Wednesday the 30th. We asked God not only for rain, but for repentance, healing and unity, and also for blessings on all those in the municipality and further afield whose job is to ensure that we continue to receive water in our pipes; and for us all, that we may value and conserve this vital resource. And as this article was completed on 31 January – it was raining. May God be praised!