Group mourn their leader, Gogo Rose

TRAILBLAZER: St Rose Letaoana's legacy lives on in the minds of her followers.
TRAILBLAZER: St Rose Letaoana's legacy lives on in the minds of her followers.

The Golden Lamp of Christianity in Soweto has fallen, but her light still shines on.

This is the collective view of the 50-member strong congregation of the Tirano School of Repentance, which was established in 1967 and whose founding leader, St Rose Letaoana, died on December 23 at the age of 81.

Also respectfully and affectionately known as Gogo St Rose Letaoana - or Gogo Rose - Letaoana was born on May 9 1930 in Orlando East. She spent her formative years in Zone 4 Meadowlands in Soweto. At a recent mass gathering in Gauteng, Letaoana's voice reverberated around the concrete walls of the packed Nasrec Expo Centre's Hall 7 as she bade farewell to tens of thousands of worshippers.

Her message, more than anything, was that she was "tired" and wanted to "to take a rest".

None of the more than 10000 congregants present could have imagined that this was to be her last message to the family of Tirano School of Repentance.

According to legend, God had started talking to her directly through her undiagnosed sickness, which confined her to her house for about three months without any contact with the outside world.

She had started receiving "clear and direct instructions" from God through her visions and the Bible.

Some of the prophecies that emerged from her "conversations with God" were encapsulated in her now common religious outlook that: "Through everything and anything that is happening to God's children in this world, God himself is talking ..." or, "Modimo o a bua" in Sesotho, which has become the mantra of this spiritual movement of the New Covenant.

Her teachings have spread and healed thousands of people locally and beyond South African borders.

The Tirano School of Repentance should not be confused with other religious sects since it is not a church, but a Christian prayer movement which upholds the principles of true worship and living according to the instructions as prescribed by God and practised by Jesus Christ and his disciples in the Holy Bible.

The ministry, that the church chooses to call a school, has a main purpose: To heal spiritually and to help to turn people away from sin.

Letaoana started the school with a small group of men and women membership scanty collective of women and men in a three-roomed matchbox house in Meadowlands. This unassuming Christian movement of women dressed in blue and white uniforms and men in black and white uniforms, has since changed the lives for the better - of tens of thousands of people for the better.

Among her first students were her son, Dingane Letaoana, and daughter, Johanna Masechaba Mofokeng, who started worshipping in the tiny dining room of their home.

Letaoana was a woman of many talents. Besides having worked as a senior administrator, she was a gifted vocalist with a golden singing voice and performed as which saw her performing as a back-up artist for the late 1950s jazz sensation Dolly Rathebe, the Mahotella Queens and other musical acts.

She Gogo Rose "passed on the baton" to her biological and "spiritual daughter" Johanna Masechaba Mofokeng, whose teachings, have reached people far and wide and continues to bring a sense of purpose to the lives of those who have given up hope in everything, including God.

Gogo'Letaoana's teachings have reached Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng, North West, Free State and, in neighbouring states including Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and as far as London. Even In the past, parliamentarians and business people have sought prayers from the Tirano School of Repentance.

Letaoana's funeral service will be held at 7am at Crystal Ministries Church, Corner of Walton and Sabax Roads, along Samuel Evans Road, Aeroton.

She will be laid to rest at Fourways Cemetery today.

  • The author is a freelance journalist