Baptised in Blood: Saint Manche Masemola | Documentary Idea
by Benison Makele
(Johannesburg, Sout Africa)
This cathartic, thought-provoking human interest story is a heart-rending one about a 14 year-old girl killed by her own parents for converting to the Anglican faith in the 1920s in Sekhukhuneland, Lmpopo Province, South Africa. It is a story that begins in Ga-Marishane village in the sePedi kingdom and ends on the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, London, UK where she is one of 10 depicted 20th century martyrs from all over the world.
The story is told against the background of the arrival of English and German missioners in the kingdom. In the tense atmosphere generated by clashes between adherents of the Christian faith and traditional sePedi belief systems, there is uneasy co-existence between the two. Manche Masemola and a cousin become attracted to the new religion. Her parents warn her against it. She defies them. Beatings follow.
The church gives her "European" clothes to prepare for the baptism ceremony. Her parents burn the clothes. The girl continues her church-going regardless of the floggings. She vows to be baptised one day, even if "it's in her own blood."
Consummatum est - it is finished. True to fate, they take her to an isolated space in the bushes, one day, where they hack her to death with a machete and later bury her under a small mound of earth. Her prophecy had been fulfilled.
Four years later, the Church declares her burial place a pilgrimage site.
Ten years later, she is declared a martyr by the Anglican church of the Province of Southern Africa and later canonised a saint before being immortalised in a statue at Westminster Abbey.
Forty years later, her mother is herself baptised into the Anglican church.