ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Being "The One"

Updated on September 25, 2022
Rodric29 profile image

Missionary work is the bedrock of Rodric's Faith. Read about these stories of faith and hope while in the service of God.

Mthatha (Umtata), South Africa

Mthatha is a small city in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It is not a tourist attraction or a place of retreat--unless you like Normal and want to retreat to Normal. The mixture of rich and poor are average for the nation, and the city's culture is predominantly Xhosa-speaking people with a heavy European influence. Europeans established Umtata, now Mthatha in1869.


Picture it, 1999 ...

Sloping Sakwe [pronounced sock - way] Street contained a row of houses and the missionaries lived in one. It was to be my home for the next several months and our base of ecclesiastical operations. It was unpainted, which made it stand out, but it fit perfectly in the well-off dwellings of the neighborhood. I stepped over the threshold into the new boarding, barely sitting my belongings down, when in popped a local member of the Umtata (Mthatha) Branch to pay a visit. I was excited!


It was the first time I met a member of the Church who was not a missionary but I did not know that at first. Andile, the member, would be my first contact with a lay member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Umtata Branch was the name of the local congregation of the Church in 1999. It was the only congregation of the Church in Mthatha at that time, and it had very few members. Our "area" in Mthatha was a geographical area assigned to missionaries by the Mission President of the South Africa Cape Town Mission

I did not know how Andile looked or what was his age, but I was informed that he was a bit eccentric before he popped his head and body into our boarding.

Andile's unique brand of introduction began with fellow missionary, Elder Zithulele Danisa from Durban and me being pranked. Elder Danisa himself was a unique story, but suffice it to say, he came from a hard life and had left that life to join the Church and serve a mission within a year of so doing.

In stumbled a beggar, a.k.a Andile, requesting funds for food. We had been in town long enough to know that such things happened in South Africa, but it took me by surprise regardless. Andile, with the participation of our missionary companions Elders Thompson and Streadbeck, portrayed a drunken idiot seeking food and money as many beggars did around that area.


"Two Rand for Chips Boss," Andile repeated as he staggered around the living room of the boarding. I ignored him. I figured he was a member. I already knew about the "greenie" jokes. Greenie jokes were what the old fashion missionaries played on new missionaries to welcome them into the mission field or proselyting area. I am told they don't do that anymore. I doubt it since there are mostly 18 to 21-year-olds on mission.

Andile was quite believable in his portrayal of an inebriated Xhosa man. Insomuch that when he went to "take" Elder Streadbeck's personal items Elder Danisa became charged.


Elder Danisa Pranked

"No, no no! You cannot take that," shouted Elder Danisa. "Put it back. You don't want fish and chips."

I wanted to proclaim to Elder Danisa that the person was just a member, and it was probably a joke, but I honestly was not sure. I suppose when I did not react to the performance Andile kept it up for Elder Danisa's benefit.

Elder Thompson was red with suppressed laughter. I shook my head as Andile continued to act--Academy Award style.

The staggering and begging would have convinced anyone unfamiliar with missionary pranks like Elder Danisa. I knew it was bogus; however, Elder Danisa's quick temper would not contain itself. Just as he was about to kick the stuffing out of Andile, Elder Streadbeck alerted Elder Danisa Andile pranked him. We all had a decent laugh at the successful pranking of Elder Danisa. I thought it was over. After laughs and conversation, Andile addressed me severely serious.

Elder Thompson

Anointed One?

"Elder Johnson," he began, "I have something to tell you." By this time my guard was down and I suspected no jesting. "In our tribe, we have a prophecy about the Black person who would cross the oceans and become the anointed one of our people."

"What," I said confused. Andile's visage appeared gravely serious, enough to scare the tar out of anyone--and by anyone, I mean me!

"Elder Johnson, you have fulfilled my people’s prophecy. I must tell my father; and with him, we will come tonight and take you to your new home."

An eerie feeling came over me. disturbed. I said lightly, "You are joking, right?" I looked at Elder Thompson and continued. “Is this guy for real?"

"Hey, this is news to me," said Elder Thompson excusing himself to laugh about the situation, I thought.

Andile continued to become more detailed about my uniqueness and my particular status. He flattered me, plain and true. His flattery frightened me with his worshipful devotion to my supposed status without flinching once. His beautiful accent reminded me an English poet. Words flowed off of his tongue like water from a fresh spring. By the time he finished, he had everyone in the boarding spellbound.

After about 20 minutes of the beautiful accent of the convincing words of this Xhosa member, I successfully helped Andile think I did not believe him. Truthfully, I did believe his story. I put on the performance of my life trying not to appear affected by Andile's words. Never once did he indicate what he said was false or that he had invented the tale.

When he left, Andile, this 17-year-old kid, I, a 22-year-old elder expressed my mind to Elder Thompson about this story of me being the choosen. Honestly, he did not know that Andile planned the story or if it was true. That really scared me because I was the first Black American the Church sent to Umtata as a missionary to my knowledge. Elder Thompson knew enough about Andile that he could not conger up a tale like that on a whim--in his opinion at least.

Can you imagine the night I had?

Every sound killed me slowly. It was my first night in the area. All of my misconceptions about Africa were still vividly floating in my consciousness, though logic told me otherwise. My prejudice and misunderstanding of local culture and customs caused my heart and mind to imagine scenarios that would occur if I closed my eyes in this new place.

I thought incessantly of Xhosa warriors waiting until my companion goes to sleep before wisking me off to some tribal place to be made ruler. I didn't even think the Church allowed things like that to happen. I wondered why they sent me to a place where the natives would elect me their ruler! My fear displayed my arrogance and ignorance. If I had known that South Africa was just as normal as South Georgia, I would never have lost any sleep over Andile's story.

Me, Elder Johnson

Pranked One

Elder Thompson finally did nothing to ease my mind. When I saw Andile at Church my first Sunday, I asked him about my so-called "Anointed One" status.

He did not remember!

So I rehearsed laughingly the whole story HE TOLD ME, trying to make like it did not cause sleep deprivation in me. Half a week had transpired, and each night I waited for this "taking" Andile spellbound us with to occurred.

"Yea" or "Nay," I wanted him to say whether it was true or not. I had to know, nevering knowing if someone would steal me away and do all types of tribal leader stuff that I knew would be awful.

Andiled regarded me with the most pathetic, empathetic eyes and said, "You really believed that? I was just messing with you elder."

"What do you mean I believed that? I wanted to hide. Lying while claiming to be a representative of Jesus Christ would not fit well talking with the lad. If I could sink into another dimension, I would have. "So it was a prank? I knew it!"

"You believed, didn't you?" Andile asked in beautiful Elizatheben English, to my consternation. I thought he was going to give me a pity hug--that I would have dodged!

From that point on, I became The One.

The one Andile played all his intellectual mind games with because I was so gullible, each time. Each time my acting became worse because I could not lie, and he convinced me me of several strange new things before revealing it was a prank.

Who knew a 17-year-old could be so talented at acting? I did not. He taught me what a prison my ignorance about Africa created for me emotionally. That day began the curing of my prejudices, the beginning.

© 2012 Rodric Anthony Johnson


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)