Tiyo Soga South Africa

Biography of Tiyo Soga

Tiyo Soga
Tiyo Soga

Tiyo Soga, the son of Jotelo, a Xhosa-speaking chief from South Africa, was one of the first African ordained ministers in South Africa. Soga was educated at Lovedale Missionary Institution, before circumstances led to him continuing his higher education in Scotland in 1846, aided by Reverend William Govan, the principal of Lovedale. He attended Inchinnan school, and then the Glasgow Free Church Normal Seminary.

Baptised in 1848 in John Street Church, the Juvenile Missionary Society of the Church agreed to pay for Soga's education, and afterwards pay his salary as a teacher when he went back to South Africa.

On his return to Scotland in 1851, the Congregation met all the costs to his ordination. Soga matriculated at the University in November 1851, attending the Latin class, "then taught by the active, quick, restless-eyed classic, and strict disciplinarian, Professor William Ramsay". He also attended the Junior Greek Class of Professor Edmund Lushington.

On 10 December 1856 Tiyo Soga became the first black South African to be ordained in the United Presbyterian Church.

Soga had seven children by his Scottish wife, Janet Burnside, two of whom studied at Glasgow. William Anderson Soga was a physician who practiced in South Africa. His third son, Allan Kirkland Soga, went on to become one of South Africa’s leading political and legal thinkers and was editor of the newspaper Izwi Iabantu. He founded a forerunner to the African National Congress. Tiyo's other children were also prominent leaders in South Africa. Jotelo Festiri Soga was a veterinarian who eradicated rinderpest from South Africa. John Henderson Soga, Isabella McFarlane Soga and Frances Maria Anne Soga were involved in missions in South Africa. The youngest child, Jessie Margaret Soga was a contralto and suffragette.

Three further descendants of Tiyo came to Glasgow as students: Alexander Robert Bogue Soga, Richard Ross Soga and Hector Ian Soga.


Printed Materials

  • John A Chalmers, Tiyo Soga: A Page of South African Mission Work, Edinburgh : Andrew Elliot, 1878.


Tiyo Soga
Born 1829.
Died 12 August 1871.
GU Degree: 1851;
University Link: Student
Occupation categories: clergy; translators
English snippet: One of the first African ordained ministers in South Africa
Record last updated: 20th May 2022

Country Associations

South Africa South Africa, No Region
Place of Birth

South Africa South Africa, No Region
Place of Death

University Connections

University Roles

  • Student