Monday, January 14, 2013

The Black Jews of Rhodesia / Zimbabwe

Whilst doing some research for a chapter called Losing my Religion for my next book Simply The Pest, I came across an amazing story.

Whilst I found out that there is little of the Jewish community left in Zimbabwe (perhaps 500 plus from a high of several thousands during the Rhodesia period), the demise has nothing to do at all with anti-Semitism but more due to the collapse of the economy.

But in my story I refer only to white Jews. However it now turns out that for at least 2500 years or more, Jews wandered down from the Middle East (most probably what is now today’s Yemen), and the now 70,000 strong Lemba people are settled in Zimbabwe and parts of northern South Africa.

But here similarities to the white Jews end (besides the fact that the Lemba people are all black). Whilst they practice traditions such as a ban on the consumption of pork, male circumcision and ‘kosher’ type slaughter of livestock, for them it is more of a tradition rather than a religion.

Whilst it appears that there are several groups throughout Africa claiming some sort of connection to a Jewish ancestry, in the late 1990’s scientists dropped a genetics bombshell. Whilst over half of anyone whose surname is Cohen had DNA that could be traced back to the time of Moses, they found the same link in 50% of the Lemba people.

Curiously, I have no recollection of hearing about these people when I lived in Rhodesia.

For further interesting details – Google –
Lemba people. The Wikipedia entry is a good place to start.


Anonymous said...

The testing of the DNA of the Lemba is just a tip of the iceberg, Lore. There is an entire people, the Soko/Ncube people who hold the hereditary priest hereditary priesthood of the Njerere sanctuaries in the Hill of Matopos. They are the priest of Nyamunhu or Mwari. Mwari is a contraction of Munhu Ari, which means he who that is everywhere but also hidden from humanity.

Anonymous said...

You had better read the latest genetic results on he Lemba before you come to those sort of conclusions. Genetics has come a long way since 2000 when the quoted tests were made.