The guild is named after Bernard Mizeki (1861 - 1896), who arrived in Cape Town from Mozambique at a very young age. He worked as a labourer in the harbour. After his day's work, he attended night classes at an Anglican school. He became a Christian and was baptized on 9 March 1886 at St Philips Anglican Church, in Zonnebloem, Cape Town. He refused to drink alcohol, which was what many did to assuage their sorrows.
Besides the fundamentals of European schooling, he mastered English, French, high Dutch, and at least eight local African languages. In time he would be an invaluable assistant when the Anglican Church began translating its sacred texts into African languages.
After graduating from the school, he accompanied Bishop Knight-Bruce to Mashonaland, to work there as a lay catechist. In 1891 the bishop assigned him to Nhowe, the village of paramount-chief Mangwende, and there he built a mission-complex. He and cultivated friendships with the villagers and eventually opened a school, and won the hearts of many of the Mashona through his love for their children.
During the Mashona rebellion of 1896 Mizeki was warned to flee, since local African Christians were regarded as agents of European imperialism rather than as independent agents. Mizeki would not leave the Christian community for which he assumed responsibility and, on the night of June 18 1896, was dragged from his home bitten with knobkerrie and stabbed with assegais. These two items are part of the emblem the Bernard Mizeki Men’s Guild.