The word Ban-Kon means “son of prince” in Assyrian, an. Aramaic dialect.
Kanuri could be a combination of the Hebrew words Kan & uri. Kan is short for Kanaan, the Promised Land. Uri means fiery. Uri is also the name of three Israelites in the Old Testament.
Jola has a Hebrew meaning which is “Jehova is God”.
The Kemants are also known as Tabiban Kamant. The black Jews of Dahomey, Dr. J. Kreppel reported in 1926, were a large Hebrew community of black Jews in the interior Dahomey (current Benin), West Africa. He says “they have a central temple (and) a Pentateuch written in Hebrew.
Tudor Parfitt, in a discovery trip in Zimbabwe, went through a barricade with armed men. The men shot at him several times, but he survived & ran away with the car he was driving. The Lembas were known for their Israelite ancestry claim. Tudor not only made the Lembas more popular, but found hard evidence, including genetic one, for their claim of Israelite ancestry. The Ngoma Lugundu, the Lemba “Ark of the Covenant” was taken from the Zimbabwe’s national museum by the national dictator Robert Mugabe for his personal collection. If Tudor survived the shootings he went through is because God protected him for the sake that the Lembas would be known by world leaving no doubt about their Israelite origin.
Masani comes from Manasheh. The inversion of syllables (“Mas-ani” for “Men-eseh”) is a common phenomenon. Manmasi is variant rendered by the Kuki Israelites after centuries of some isolation from the Middle East Jews. Masani is similar to Masai. Losing nasal sounds is common in languages. Perhaps Masani (Manases) is the original name of the Masais, so the Masais could be Manasehites.
Tel Amarma was an ancient Egyptian city. There were found the celebrated “Tel Amarma Letters or Tablets”. In there was found the name “Jerusalem” as “Urushalim”. The Tutsis call this city “Urusha”.
Harar means mountain or hill in Hebrew. There is a Harar in Ethiopia & a Harare in Zimbabwe. Harari is Lebanese last name.
Gideon lead the Falasha Jews against the Christians. He was regarded as a hero by the Falashas as Palestine Jews regarded Bar Kokhba.
Some among the Igbo (Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea) claim descent from East African Jewish communities.
An Israeli ambassador to São Tomé Islands observed that the local descendants of the slave Jewish children are still a very distinguishable segment of the population recognizable by their lighter skin. They’re also proud of their historical past & desirous to be in contact with other Jews.
Abuja took the name from the historic Hausa emirate of Abuja, itself named for the fortified settlement founded in 1828 near Zuba by Abu Ja (“Abu the Red”). How about if the name Abuja comes from the Jewish rabbi Elisha ben Abuyah?
According to professor Slouschz there was as far as the 10th Century a Jewish kingdom spanning from the hills of Ethiopia, through the vast expanses of the Sudan to the Atlantic. The Israeli scholar Joseph Eidelberg proposed that the 40 years of wandering thru the desert of the Israelites it was not in the Sinai, but throughout all the Sahara. There are many peoples in this area with clear Israelite traditions, including genealogies…
For example there are clear Hebrew loanwords in Tutsi Kinyarwanda, Ashanti, Hausa, Igbo, Bambara.
The “Black Hebrews” started coming to Israel in 1969, and were given permanent residency status in July 2003. The Black Hebrews derive their income [in Israel] from their famous choir, their seamsters’ workshop, which provides the sect with its colorful clothing, and from their vegetarian restaurant in Arad’s commercial center, with an adjacent factory for vegetarian food products.According to tradition in ancient a spirit made Igbos (while on vertical position) go to and fro. This is what the Jews do, while praying to God or reading the scriptures. That spirit should be originally the Holy Ghost.
With the explanation in the paragraphs below we can deduce that the word Hottentot might come from the Hebrew word “hoten” plus the Egyptian word “tot”. It’s clear that during the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt, many words were taken to Hebrew from the Egyptian language.
The Hebrew word hoten implies strong family links & that’s the case of the nomad Hotentots. As hinted later in this text, tot would be an Egyptian name for the typical Israelite tefillin. Many times the Jews have used a foreign word for the same Hebrew word. For example the Ashkenazim used the Yiddish word rebbe inspite having the Hebrew word rabbi. They have done the same with many other words in many different countries. So Hotentot could mean “the people attached under blood covenant that wear tefillin” or simply “the people of the tefilin”. An who are “the people of the tegilin” other than the Israelites?
Hoten חותן (father in-law) and Hotenet חותנת (mother in-law).
Ernst Kutsch notes that the root htn refers to relationships of affinity rather than blood relationships. He writes, “This relationship is brought into being by marriage between one spouse (or by extension the spouse’s family) and the blood relatives (cognates) of the other spouse”.
In Exodus 2:18 the father (Hebrew, av) of Zipporah is called Reuel, but eight lines later, in Exodus 3:1, the family patriarch is identified as Jethro, the “father-in-law” (Hebrew, hoten) of Moses.
The Hebrew word hoten in consonantal Hebrew is htn. Modern-day translators have a tendency to assume that the sociological family structure of the ancient world was defined by the same range of relationships that we refer to in English (husband, wife, aunt, uncle, cousin, father-in-law, mother-in-law, etc.). Those who are familiar with non-Western languages (Arabic, for example) recognize that non-Western peoples often use a different set of relational terms. Therefore, the assumption that the ancient Hebrew language even had a word that equates to the English “father-in-law” may be incorrect. To understand what hoten meant, we must examine how it is used. Even though hoten is rendered as “father-in-law” in most English translations, a close study of the actual usage of the word suggests that the word refers more generally to close relationships outside a blood relationship. Usually it refers to a marriage relationship The form hoten is apparently applied to the relationship between a woman’s husband and every male member of her family. Thus Terence C. Mitchell, the former keeper of Western Asiatic antiquities at the British Museum, concludes his study of this word by writing, “Indeed, I would here suggest that htn in the Old Testament, instead of carrying only particular meanings such as ‘father-in-law’ or ‘son-in-law,’ which vary according to context, has some such general meaning as ‘relation-by-marriage,’ which it bears in every context in relation to a male ego.”
The closest concept to this in English is “in-law,” but this Western term does not convey the strong family alliance of hoten.
This term (hoten of Moses) is used to refer to Jethro no fewer than 16 times. The point of using the term, however, is not to stress who Jethro is, but rather to stress who Moses is and what his relationship is with these Midianites. They are now his kinfolk. He has a formal alliance with them, sealed by marriage.
The word for bridegroom is hatan, a close derivative of hoten. In this context, the term hatan is probably intended to emphasize that Moses is not just Zipporah’s husband, but is related to her entire family; he is hoten. Of course, the weakness of the hoten relationship is that it is not a blood relationship. So when Zipporah sheds her son’s blood (for circumcision), she may be trying to seal with blood the relationship between Moses and her family. Aaron is not hoten, but the true blood relative of Moses, and he welcomes Moses back into the family with open arms.In ancient Egyptian tot can denote a gathering, resemblance, divine, or hard leather. Hence, totafoth may have had the connotation of a fourfold amulet, made of leather, as the Tefillin indeed are.
Some Black Civilisations Navigated World Wide
There was sea trade and land trade which connected many different countries on continental Africa and Asia eg, frankincense trail, gold trade etc…Ancient customs as well, like masters screwing their female slaves eg Abraham, contributed as well in the mixing of genes.
I also believe that the Olmec civilization in North America came from Africa based on evidences so far, and then there’s the Polynesians in the middle of the Pacific.
Physical proof thus far suggests that the blacks of Africa criss crossed the oceans of the world way before Americo Vespucci and Colombus great grand parents were born.
It may not be something significant enough to change common misconceptions but if the ancient Blacks were able to roam the world’s oceans without any problems then the possibility of Jews tacking along in many of this forays, like the hard core ones from the diaspora is a possibility.
Haplogroup E3BThe E3b haplogroup has been observed in all Jewish groups world wide. It is considered to be the 2nd most prevelent haplogroup amoung the Jewish population.
All the major studies agree that E-M35 is the second highest in prevalence next to J, for “Founding Jewish Lineages”.
It is found in moderate amounts in all Jewish populations, from Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Kurdish, Yemen, Samaritan and even among Djerba Jewish groups.
The scientific consensus is that Haplogroup E3b (M35) appears to have originated in East Africa, but has been carried from there to the Near East and then on to North Africa and Europe. Today it is most common in East Africa, North Africa, the Near East and around the Mediterranean.
Haplogroup J (previously known as HG9 or Eu9/Eu10) is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. t is subdivided into two subclades: haplogroup J2, defined by the M172 marker, and haplogroup J1, defined by the M267 marker.Of special interest are maps that show the geographical spread of the J haplogroup. J1 and J2 are both common in southern Europe, central Europe, the Mediterranean region, and Africa. The J haplogroup is considered to be a signature gene of Jewish ancestry and the cohen modal gene happens to be a subgroup of J.
In fact, the highest frequencies of J1 (M267) are seen in the Middle East, north Africa, and Ethiopia. See (Thomas et al. 1999). J2 (M172) also exists in significant proportions across Africa especially among the semitic speaking peoples of Tigriniya, Amhara, and Oromiya.
The J1’s from the Middle East and North Africa seem to be distinguishable from the rest of J’s by having YCAII=22,22. Behar et al found that a significant proportion of the Jewish population of Europe (more than 20%) carry the J1 haplogroup. The other 20% carry the J2 haplogroup.
The Dan of Eburnie (Ivory Cost)
The tribe of Dan is one of the Lost Tribes of Israel. We believe that a part of this tribe had settled in Ivory Coast (Eburnie), This is the subject of our research. The Dan or Danites of Ivory Coast were called « Yacouba » by the French colonists. Of Hebraic origin, after a peregrination in Ethiopia, they arrived in the 16th century to settle in the mountainous western area of Ivory Coast. The main ethnies, Gouro, Gagou, Wan, …gave birth to smaller ethnical groups among more than 70 groups living in Eburnie. Three issues will be exposed : Were do the Dan people come from ? Why, among all the tribes of Eburnie are they called Dan ? Why have this people so many similarities with the Hebrews ? Eburnie resembles Hibernia, which is said to mean “Hebrew land”.
Ethiopian North Shewa Zionist Organization, Ethiopia Revitalization of Bet-Avraham Jews in Ethiopia
“Their hidden agenda reveal their Jewish Identity”. After long centuries of terrible struggles to survive, at the end of sixteen century, Ethiopian Bet Israelites defeated by the Christian rulers of Ethiopia. Following their (Bet – Israelites) defeats, the Christian kings of Ethiopia gave them two inseparable choices. To die or accepting Christianity.
According to evidence of Jacques Faithlovic an early advocate for Ethiopian Jews, other scholars and travelers :- From the large sects of Bet-Israel who survives from long years of war , death and humiliation located in the province of Denbya , Gonder ; some groups of Jews sect Journey and settled to the North Shewa parts of Ethiopia. These sects of community called Bet Avraham Jews community.
It was there, the Bet – Avraham Jews became under direct influence of Christian kings and surrounding. As a survival mechanisms and to be under the law of Christian rulers of Ethiopia, “Conversation” have been forced or simply a means to survive in the mainstream society to elude discrimination and persecution.
Therefore, on that terrible times they converted outwardly on some way or practice Christianity to pretend as to be converted. But through all times they retained their forefathers ancient Jewish practice for almost three centuries under an eyes of Ethiopian Christians by establishing more than 40 hidden synagogue at the far remote countryside of North Shoa Province. Why? When? How and How? This mysterious survival strategy preserves the very ancient Mosaic Judaism practices and now it reveals their black Jews identity to the 21 century survivals.
Celebration among the Tambahoaka peoples of Madagascar
After attending this celebration in 1979, a group of researchers from the University of Antananarivo wrote a pamphlet describing this tradition that they refer to as “Antambahoaka Sambatra”. They propose that this is only the beginning of documentation in a joint research about “Antambahoaka” society, whereby they are encouraging the study of “Sambatra” tradition among the Tambahoaka peoples, by asking “what are the possible meanings of each aspect of the customs involved in this “Sambatra”, and what are the reasons each element or object used is needed in the accomplishment of this ritual? Specific questions that the researchers ask (translated from the French) are: How is the “Antambahoaka Sambatra” similar to the celebrations of circumcision in other parts of Madagascar and how is it different? What are the possible meanings of each aspect of the customs involved in this “Sambatra” (as above)? Seventeen rites are listed in the pamphlet obtained from the Museum of Art and Archeology of Madagascar, including such rites as: Water ablution done three times, in different places; Seven-day celebration (announced by blowing of a conch shell) leading to boys entering into the ‘community’; Raising the peak of the house later dismantled after one week; Simulation of crossing over of rivers, while being pursued. To be noted is that these Malagasy researchers state: “Many questions are posed and remain, but this is our history that is revealed to us by a study of this ancient institution (“Sambatra”)”.
All over Western Sudan one comes across different cities or districts named Nasr or Nasara, i.e. Nasareth the country of Nasarenes. Usually those districts had been at some point in history a settlement of a group of Africans who collectively practiced what has come to be known as the Nasarene culture. There is a Nasreth in Ethiopia, and there is a district of Nasr in the Nassarawa (Nasarene) State of modern Nigeria. Similarly there were various Nasar settlements in modern day Mali, Mauretania, Senegal, and Niger. It is only in Africa that one finds towns and districts named Nasr time and again.
The Nasarene culture is thus an age old Saharan African order which precepts premeated some cultures of the North East Africa including ancient Israel and Arabia. This group and its rites are well known in the books of the Bible and Koran from such famous tales as the life and death of Samson.The Nasarenes were persons dedicated either from birth or by personal commitment to the pursuit of universal principles of truths and justice. They usually end up as wise men, master of natural and scientific laws, and very knowledgeable scholars of history and spirituality. They were often the last line of defence for the principles of balance and righteousness. Often many Nasarenes wore the dreadlocks natural hair coiffure, as it was a symbol that fit their emphasis on natural spirituality as opposed to some human contrivance.
These special breed of holy people were widespread in traditional Africa before the spread of Islam. Some have claimed it is an order as old as life itself with Melchizadek the famous ever-living Priest of the book of Genesis as its founder.
Nasarene culture as such is a relic of ancient Africa which due to the vibrancy and strength of its philosophical principles has been adopted by all shades and colors of religion and nationalities. It is an order of spiritual masters not particularly affiliated with any religion or organization.
Nasarenes are a rough equivalent of a Levite-like priestly order dedicated to guarding and promoting truth and righteousness and keeping the balance of justice. In today’s world, the Nasarenes would be similar to many aspects of the Rastasfari philosophy and reasoning framework.
Nasarene culture was a part of the Lamtuna culture of Western Sudan. It was not surprising that many practicing Nazarenes were counted as staunch supporters of Ibrahim and Yasin.ç
Among the prominent corps and ranks of the students, teachers and martial artists who rallied round and accompanied Ibrahim and Yasin on their world changing mission, one found Murabitums or the Marabouts, and the Nasarenes. Yasin was the ideologue of the group whereas Yahaya ibn Ibrahim became the military organizer.
The word Almoravid is a poor European transliteration of the Arabic word Al-Murabitum. It describes a learned and righteous Moorish warrior. Some people believe that the Almoravid empire was not a Muslim, but an Israelite empire.
Decline of the Black Jews of Africa
Many reasons have been sought for the decline and virtual disappearance of Africa’s once thriving Jewish communities of black Jews. Many see the beginning of this decline as contemporaneous with the advent of the Islamic religion in Africa.
Some historical accounts highlight the fact that black Jews were die-hard nationalistic traditionalists and had led the black African resistance against the influx of the black muslim jihadists and their new interpretation of morality. There are some who believe that a Jewish presence may have at one time existed in Cameroon via merchants who arrived from Egypt for trade. According to some accounts these communities observed rituals such as separation of dairy and meat products as well as wearing tefillin. There are also claims that Jews migrated into Cameroon after being forced southward due to the Islamic conquests of North Africa.
The claims of a Jewish presence in Cameroon are made by Rabbi Yisrael Oriel. Rabbi Oriel, formerly Bodol Ngimbus-Ngimbus, was born into the Ba-Saa tribe. The word Ba-Saa, he said, is from the Hebrew for ‘on a journey’ and means blessing. Rabbi Oriel claims to be a Levite descended from Moses. Reportedly, Rabbi Oriel made aliya in 1988 and was ordained as a rabbi by the Sephardic Chief Rabbi and appointed rabbi to Nigerian Jews.
Rabbi Oriel claims that in 1920 there were 400,000 ‘Israelites’ in Cameroon, but by 1962 the number had decreased to 167,000 due to conversions to Christianity and Islam. He admitted that these tribes had not been accepted halachically, although he claimed to prove their Jewish status from medieval rabbinic sources.
In the first place, many Hebrewisms were discovered in the Ashanti tribal customs. Then several Ashanti words were found to have a striking resemblance to those of equivalent Hebrew meaning. Finally, the Supreme Being of the Ashanti gave strong indication of being the Yahweh of the Old Testament. It was indeed surprising how many Hebrewisms, either real or at least apparent, were to be found among the un-Islamised tribes.”Taken from the book Hebrewisms of West Africa, by Joseph J. Williams (copy written in the 1930’s) Pages 22 & 23
It’s a historical fact that the mass majority of captive slaves brought to the Americas, came from West Africa, although some were brought from East Africa, they were the minority. The west African tribal nations that our forefathers were taken from, have many ancient Hebrew customs in there culture. The KAFFIR, BO, GREBO, MARIBUCK, MAVUMBA, AKRA, FANTI, AKIN, YORUBA, KONGO, AND ASHANTI. Just to name a few of the many sub-Saharan nations that engage in ancient Israelite rituals.
Such rituals include: CIRCUMCISION, THE DIVISION OF THEIR TRIBES INTO TWELVE, BLOOD SPRINKLING UPON THEIR ALTARS AND DOOR POSTS, MARRYING OF THEIR BROTHER’S WIFE AFTER DEATH, SEPARATION AND PURIFICATION AFTER CHILD BIRTH, UNCLEANNESS DURING CHILD BIRTH, UNCLEANNESS DURING MENSTRUATION NEW MOON CELEBRATIONS. Plus many more.
Among the ASHANTI tribe the priesthood is hereditary to a specific family such a family has little or no possessions, is exempt from all taxes, supplied with food and advises the king. Compare this with the Levities of ancient Israel and you will see that both are exactly the same.The name ASHANTI has Hebrew origins, the “TI” at the end means race of or people of, Ashan was the name of a city located in southern Israel Judah (Joshua 15:42 – 19:7 / 1st chronicles 4:32 – 6:59).
The word Ashan in Hebrew means smoke city / burning city. ASHANTI means the people of Ashan or the people of the smoke city, This was the reference to the city of Ashan after the Romans destroyed it in 70 C.E.
In a very informative book entitled HEBREWISM OF WEST AFRICA By Joseph J Williams. He gives detailed description of the Hebrew customs in many of the west African tribes. These were the tribes who were the main suppliers of slaves during the slave trade. And these are the tribes that the majority of Hebrews in the west are descendant from. I will present a few excerpts from his book, and this should further convince you of who the children of Israel are.
NOTE: I must say here that this book was written in the 1930’s and the author who is white quotes some “racist” authors, from as far back as the 1700’s. He also makes some misguided comments himself, as he tries to find out how so much Hebrew culture and lifestyle, got to West Africa. He would have known the answer to that had he known the prophecies. But nonetheless there is still A LOT OF useful information contained in HIS book.
PAGE 22 In the first place, many Hebrewism were discovered in the ASHANTI tribal customs. Then, several ASHANTI words were found to have a striking resemblance to those of equivalent Hebrew meaning. finally the supreme being of the ASHANTI gave a strong indication of being the “Yahweh” (YHWH) of the “old testament”.
PAGE 23, It was indeed surprising how many HEBREWISM, either real or at least apparent, were to be found among the unislamised tribes.
PAGE 52 In both ASHANTI and Hebrew the traditional vowel sound is equally important for the true signification of words.
PAGE 56, Thus in conjugation of the verb the ASHANTI prefix the personal pronouns to the verb stem, the same as it is found in the imperfect of Hebrew.
PAGE 61, One cannot help being impressed by the number of customs and practices there described that find their counter part among the ancient Hebrews. Thus, for example the Mosaic law of intra-tribal-marriages, which was devised expressly to preserve the inheritance of the daughters in the tribe and family of their father (NUMBERS 36:12) finds a close verification among the ASHANTI of today. And the cross-cousin marriages, so characteristic of the latter, are strictly similar to that of the daughter of salphadd who wedded the sons of their uncle by their father (NUMBERS 36:2). Again the preserving of certain names in a family is as much sought after by the ASHANTI as it was of old among the Hebrews, as shown in the case of naming of John the Baptist when the objection was made, “there is none of your Kindred that is called by this name” (Luke 1:61).
PAGE 62, So also the remarkable simplicity of the ASHANTI marriage and the distinctive part that wine plays in the ceremonial reminds one of the ancient Hebrews.
PAGE 63, Not only in the marriage ceremony itself but also in after marriage customs there is a strange similarity between the ASHANTI and the Hebrews. Thus, for example, for 8 days after the birth of a child the ASHANTI “mother is considered as unclean”. It is only on the 8th day, at the Ntetea that the child receives its personal name, and on the 40th day a still further ceremony has to be observe. In all this we are certainly reminded of Hebrew customs. Further, the ASHANTI women at the menstrual period, even to the retirement to the bara hut, read like a page borrowed from the book of Leviticus, (15:19-20). And the system of ASHANTI ablution to prevent legal uncleanness constantly brings to mind similar practices which were common among Hebrews.
PAGE 66, Thus far, however, we have shown certain cultural elements common to the ASHANTI and the ancient Hebrews, such as the ob cult, religious dances, use of “Amen”, vowel value, patriarchal system, parallel symbolism of Authority in “stool” and “chair”, endogamy, cross-cousin marriages, familiar names, exogamy, simplicity of marriage rite and the part wine plays in the ceremony, uncleanness after child birth, purification ceremony, Menstrual seclusion. and ceremonial ablutions; besides ASHANTI loan words of apparent Hebrew origin.
PAGE 70, For they ascribe to god the attributes of omnipresence, omniscience, and Invisibility, besides which they believe that he governs all things by providence. By reason god is invisible, they say it would be absurd to make any corporeal representation of him. Wherefore they have such multitude of Images of their Idol gods which they take to be subordinate deities to the supreme god.
PAGE 72, In the very fact that the Hebrews, despite their service of the true god frequently relapsed into idolatry. Captain Rattray, finds a parallelism with the ASHANTI, where, as Bosman noted, one finds a belief in a supreme being side by side with multitudes of their idol Gods.
PAGE 78, And there is a common saying among the ASHANTI: no priest may look upon the face of his God and live which sounds remarkably like an echo of “Yahweh’s” (YHWH) warning to Moses at Mount Sinai “Thou canst see my face for man shall not see me and live”.
PAGE 80, The supreme being of the ASHANTI is identical with the god of the Christians, the Yahweh of the old testament: and further that their tribal worship is strangely parallel to that of the divided worship that existed in Jerusalem immediately prior to the Babylonian exile, as we will see later in more detail.
PAGE 82, The breastplate on the central figure, the Herald (Osene), who is called by Stanley the Town-Crier, is strikingly similar to the breast plate of the High Priest among the Ancient Hebrews, even to its division into twelve parts. The head dress of the Herald, too with its gold disc in front satisfies the description of the miznefet as given in the Jewish Encyclopedia. “A tiara, or perhaps a peculiarly wound turban, with a peak, the front of which bore a gold plate with inscription “Holy unto YHWH”. However, the division of the breast plate into twelve parts is certainly distinctive. So also is the head dress with gold disc in front.
PAGE 83, The ASHANTI Myth might thus record progressive stages in the manifestation of “Yahweh” (YHWH) to the Hebrews; the burning bush; Sinai and the Covenant, that established the Nation as God’s Chosen People.A Shofar is a horn (Trumpet) Made from a Ram’s Horn. It was used in Ancient Israel to announce the gathering of the people for different events, Such as war.
JOSHUA 6:4-5- And Seven priest shall bear before the ark seven shofar’s of rams’ horns: and the seventh day you shall compass the city seven times and the priest shall blow with the shofar’s And It shall come to pass, That when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn and when you hear the sound of the shofar, all the people shall shout with a great shout…..This is only a few of the many comparisons he found out that existed among just ONE of the tribes that we (in the west) are descendant from. It would be way to lengthy to include all the tribes of west Africa who have Hebrew culture.
Today all of Africa has been lumped into one, Meaning that “All black skinned people are of the same culture, customs, etc.” So as a consequence all this Hebrewism has went unnoticed by the world at large. Most of the customs that are taught to us as being “Traditional” African culture are actually cultural traits that can be found right in the first five books of your bible.In the slave Narrative by Olaudah Equiano, He tells of how his native customs is parallel to the Hebrews customs found in the bible.
He says: “Like the Israelites in their primitive state, our government was conducted by our chiefs or Judges, our wisemen, and elders; and the head of a family, with, enjoyed a similar authority over his household with that which is ascribed to Abraham and the other patriarchs. The law of retaliation prevailed almost universally with us as with them; and even their religion appeared to have shed upon us a ray of its glory, though broken and spent in its passage. or eclipse by the cloud with which time , tradition, and ignorance might have enveloped it. For we had our circumcision ( a rite I believe, peculiar to that people) we had also our sacrifices and burnt-offerings, our washing and purification, on the same occasions as they had”.”I came at length to a country, the inhabitants of which differed from us in all these particulars. I was very much struck with this difference, especially when I came among a people who did not circumcise, AND WHO ATE WITHOUT WASHING THEIR HANDS”. Olaudah couldn’t believe these people ate without washing their hands. Just as it states to us in the book of Matthew Matthew 15:1-2,”Then came to Yahshuah scribes and Pharisees which were of Jerusalem, saying(2) Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the Elders? FOR THEY WASH NOT THEIR HANDS WHEN THEY EAT BREAD.
In a article by William Levi Ochan Ajjugo who is a member of the Madi tribe in the country of Sudan. He tells of the Hebrew customs among his and other tribes in the Sudan.”When most people think of Judaism in black Africa, they think of the so-called Falashas, Bet Israel, Ethiopian Jews who have kept the essentials of biblical Judaism despite being isolated geographically from other Jews for thousands of years.
The Falashas are in fact the tip of the iceberg. Judaism came to Africa long before Islam or even Christianity, itself an early arrival. Hebrews have been in Africa hundreds of years before the exodus from Egypt. So influential was ancient Judaism in northern and eastern Africa that anthropologists have devised a test to tell whether a given tribe or people has Hebraic roots: It does so if males are circumcised at age of 1 or earlier.
I am from South Sudan, the largely Christian, African portion of the Sudan, which has long been dominated by Arab Muslims to the north, in Khartoum. I am from a tribe called the Madi, and while we did not retain Judaism as thoroughly as did the Falashas in neighboring Ethiopia, I am amazed as I look back at how many of our customs seem to have come from the Hebrew Scriptures.Among Christians and non- Christians like, one G-d was worshiped. As in the Book of Leviticus, blood sacrifices were offered for sins. The worst sins required the sacrifice of a sheep, the ones below these a Goat, and the “least” sins a chicken. A hereditary group of elders or priests decided which to sacrifice, and presided over these and other ceremonies.
Dietary laws were practiced; certain animals were “unclean” and could not be eaten. Ceremonial washing of hands was required when leaving home. Certain days of the year were set apart as holy. On such days, all was pledged to the one G-d of the heavens who forgave sins.
The Madi also use a ram’s horn (“bilah”) to call people together for various purposes. My father, who was an hereditary elder, would often blow the bilah to gather the people together for a ceremony or to discuss a matter of importance.
If a man died, his brother married his widow. This is in Leviticus, and also is imbedded in Madi culture, as is the “kinsman-redeemer” custom found in the Book of Ruth in connection with Boaz’s marrying Ruth. In Ruth 4:7, it says that “in earlier times in Israel”, the redemption and transfer of property became final when one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This is precisely what the Madi did when I was growing up.
In Deuteronomy 15:19, the children of Israel were commanded to set apart for the L-rd all first-born males of their herds and flocks. None were to be put to work or, in the case of sheep, shorn. Again, this is a Madi custom as well.
Many of these customs are also practiced by other tribes in the Sudan. One Madi custom, though, is most striking in its obvious implication: All males are circumcised — as I was — on the 8th day.
When I was growing up, I did not know that any of these were “Jewish” customs. It was only when I began studying the Bible that the connection became clear. Most tribes who practice these customs do not know what “Jewish” means; they only know that these are the ways of their own forefathers.
Christian missionaries have long misinterpreted these “ways”, especially missionaries from denominations which de- emphasize the “Old” Testament. Many labeled groups like Madi “pagan”, “animist”, or, incredibly, “without religion.”
Today, the Islamic fundamentalists who rule the Sudan use similar terms to describe the tribes of South Sudan, including the Madi. Unlike the Christian missionaries of the past, however, the Islamicists know better. On more than one occasion, I was called “Jew” in a disparaging way by Muslims when I was living in the Sudan.The current Islamic regime in Sudan is waging a jihad — a war of extermination — against the people and tribes of South Sudan. Almost 3 million of my people have been butchered in a genocide that is worse than anything the world has seen since the Holocaust. Those who know of this under reported slaughter rightly see it as religious in nature — a war of Islamic imperialism against largely Christian South Sudan. It is also a cultural war of Arab- dominated culture against African culture. And part and parcel of African culture — at least in this area of Africa — are the remnants of Judaism.
For those would like to see such remnants preserved, here is yet another reason to stand up for the brave people of South Sudan”.
Those brothers and sisters in the Southern Sudan are Israelites, These Hebrews are still being taken captive and put into slavery in the Sudan, they are suffering the curses of Deuteronomy 28:In another article By George E. Lichtblau entitled “Jewish Roots in Africa”, he gives a details about the Hebrews in west Africa.”Claims of a historic presence of Jewish communities in certain regions of Africa, notably West and Southern Africa, seem esoteric when first mentioned. This presence goes back not just centuries, but even to biblical times.
Of course in two areas such a communal presence on the African continent remains a firmly acknowledged part of Jewish history and experience (North Africa and Egypt/Ethiopia). A Jewish presence in Egypt and the former Kingdom of Kush are described in the Book of Exodus. Yet even after their exodus from Egypt and their settlement in the land of Israel, the Jewish tribes retained certain nomadic characteristics which are reflected throughout their history.
For example, in the 10th and 9th centuries B.C.E. Kings David and Solomon sought to expand Jewish influence and trade throughout the Mediterranean, including North Africa, Egypt, the Arab Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, as well as Persia. Often such trade promotion and colonizing drives were arranged in cooperation with the Canaanite and the neighboring Kingdom of Tyre. These kingdoms often lent their military backing to these colonizing efforts, which led to the establishment of numerous settlements by Jewish artisans and traders throughout these regions.
But the subsequent scattering of a Jewish presence and influence reaching deep into the African continent is less widely acknowledged.
Pressed under sweeping regional conflicts, Jews settled as traders and warriors in Yemen, the Horn of Africa, Egypt, the Kingdom of Kush and Nubia, North African Punic settlements (Carthage and Velubilis), and areas now covered by Mauritania. More emigrants followed these early Jewish settlers to Northern Africa following the Assyrian conquest of the Israelites in the 8th century B.C.E., and again 200 years later, when Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians, leading to the destruction of the First Temple.
This catastrophic event not only drove many Jews into exile in Babylon, but also led to the establishment of exile communities around the Mediterranean, including North Africa. Then, with Israel coming under Greek, Persian and later Roman rule and dependence, renewed waves of Jewish traders and artisans began to set up communities in Egypt, Cyrenaica, Nubia and the Punic Empire, notably in Carthage, whence they began to scatter into various newly emerging communities south of the Atlas mountains. Several Jewish nomadic groups also started to come across the Sahara from Nubia and the ancient kingdom of Kush.
The Jewish presence in Africa began to expand significantly in the second and third centuries of the Christian era, extending not only into the Sahara desert, but also reaching down along the West African coast, and possibly also to some Bantu tribes of Southern Africa (where some 40,000 members of the Lemba tribe still claim Jewish roots). The names of old Jewish communities south of the Atlas mountains, many of which existed well into Renaissance times, can be found in documents in synagogue archives in Cairo.
In addition, Jewish, Arab and Christian accounts cite the existence of Jewish rulers of certain tribal groups and clans identifying themselves as Jewish scattered throughout Mauritania, Senegal, the Western Sudan, Nigeria, and Ghana. Among notable Arab historians referring to their existence are Ibn Khaldun, who lived in the 13th century, a respected authority on Berber history; the famous geographer al-Idrisi, born in Ceuta, Spain in the 12th century, who wrote about Jewish Negroes in the western Sudan; and the 16th century historian and traveler Leon Africanus, a Moslem from Spain who was raised by a Jewish woman working in his family’s household, who is said to have taught him Hebrew and emigrated with the family to Morocco in 1492. Leon Africanus later converted to Catholicism but remained interested in Jewish communities he encountered throughout his travels in West Africa.
Some evidence can also be derived from surviving tribal traditions of some African ethnic groups, including links to biblical ancestors, names of localities, and ceremonies with affinities to Jewish ritual practices. Moreover, the writings of several modern West African historians and two personal anecdotes indicate that the memories of an influential Jewish historical past in West Africa continue to survive.
I still remember from my assignments in the 1960’s as a Foreign Service Officer an encounter with Mr. Bubu Hama, then president of the National Assembly in Niger and a prolific writer on African history. He told me that the Tuaregs had a Jewish queen in early medieval times, and that some Jewish Tuareg clans had preserved their adherence to that faith, in defiance of both Islamic and Christian missionary pressure, until the 18th century. In several of his books Hama even cites some genealogies of Jewish rulers of the Tuareg and Hausa kingdoms.
A related story about surviving memories of Jewish roots in West Africa was told to me around 1976 by former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres. He had just returned from a meeting of the Socialist International, during which he had met with then president Leopold Senhor of Senegal. In the course of their discussion about the possibility of normalizing Senegalese-Israeli relations, Senhor had told him that he too had Jewish ancestors. At that time we both smiled somewhat incredulously. Yet, indeed, there are a number of historical records of small Jewish kingdoms and tribal groups known as Beni Israel that were part of the Wolof and Mandinge communities.
These existed in Senegal from the early Middle Ages up to the 18th century, when they were forced to convert to Islam. Some of these claimed to be descendants of the tribe of Dan, the traditional tribe of Jewish gold and metal artisans, who are also said to have built the “Golden Calf”.
Sena-ah is thorny in Hebrew. The “children (i.e. the inhabitants) of Senaah” are enumerated among the “people of Israel” who returned from the captivity with Zerubbabel. Ezr 2:35; Ne 7:38 (B.C. 536.) The Magdal Senna of Eusebius and Jerome denotes a town seven miles north of Jericho (“Senna”). Sena is also an ancient Arabic for Sion/Zion.
According to their oral tradition, the Lembas founded a town called Sena in today’s Yemen. Then they traveled in ship & landed in Mozambique were they founded a new Sena. They ended up in Zimbabwe & nearby countries. Centuries ago a group of Lembas separated from them & stayed in southern Mozambique. This group is called nowadays as Sena, after their beloved Sena/Sion of their ancestors. Nevertheless, as we saw before, Sena happens to be also a Hebrew term.The Sena people were neighbors & are related to the Lemba.
The Lemba & the Sena are Israelites from Austral Africa
SaKa, Zambia’s capital, is not far from Lemba lands & bears the SK consonants from which Israelites were named after their forefather iSaaC.
How about if the SeNa of Yemen, from which the Lembas came, is SaNa , current capital of Yemen ?
Mwali or Mohéli: name of the only Lemba god. Is it by chance that this island is in the Comoros, a country close to Lemba & Sena lands? Are the CoMoRans, or part of them, related to the Lembas? The ancient Israelites were called “House of Khumri” (after one of their kings) by the Mesopotamians & later they were known by this name. CoMoRos has the consonants of KhuMRi, so some Israelites, the Lembas perhaps, may have founded a colony in these islands. Moron means our lord in Hebrew. The suffix in “i” means from or of. For example Israeli is from Israel, Iraqi from Iraq & so on. Then Moron or Moran means “Our Lord”. Moroni or Morani “of Our Lord” or “from Our Lord”. Is it a coincidence that Moroni is the capital of the Comoros? Moroni is found in two places. In the Book of Mormon, the capital of Comoros & somewhere else. It’s also the name of a Masai warrior, also called Ol-murrani. Masais have an israelite origin claim. In fact we can read in 1 Chronicles 9:12 and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malchijah, and Masai the son of Adiel, the son of Jahzerah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Meshillemith, the son of Immer.
Emlembe is the highest mountain in Swaziland. It is located in the east uKhahlamba (or Drakensberg) mountain range, on the border with South Africa. Both emLeMBe & ukhaLaMBa have the LMB consonants of the LeMBas & are not far from the LeMBa areas.
Wuriga, a Lemba leader, tells of old map which locates a town called “Lemba” in Israel during the Hasmonaean kingdom (134-63 BCE), and cites oral history of gold and ivory traders coming to Africa from the area of Yemen. Wuriga says, “They did not part ways with their Jewish practices,” although they picked up Arab and African customs during their migrations.
Findings & origins on the Lemba
A fascinating Jewish group in Africa is the Lemba, or Lembaa, who number 50,000-70,000 in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and the South African region of Venda. According to their legends, Lemba ancestors came by boat from a northern town called Sena. It is not entirely clear where that legendary town is located as towns with similar names abound in Israel, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Yemen, but the latter seems the most likely possibility. Lemba tombstones are decorated with Stars of David. Like other Jewish groups, Lemba encourage endogamy and have specific conversion practices for non-Lembas.
The Lemba are a traditionally endogamous group speaking a variety of Bantu languages who live in a number of locations in southern Africa. They claim descent from Jews who came to Africa from “Sena.” “Sena” is variously identified by them as Sanaa in Yemen, Judea, Egypt, or Ethiopia. A previous study using Y-chromosome markers suggested both a Bantu and a Semitic contribution to the Lemba gene pool, a suggestion that is not inconsistent with Lemba oral tradition. To provide a more detailed picture of the Lemba paternal genetic heritage, we analyzed 399 Y chromosomes for six microsatellites and six biallelic markers in six populations (Lemba, Bantu, Yemeni-Hadramaut, Yemeni-Sena, Sephardic Jews, and Ashkenazic Jews). The high resolution afforded by the markers shows that Lemba Y chromosomes are clearly divided into Semitic and Bantu clades. Interestingly, one of the Lemba clans carries, at a very high frequency, a particular Y-chromosome type termed the “Cohen modal haplotype,” which is known to be characteristic of the paternally inherited Jewish priesthood and is thought, more generally, to be a potential signature haplotype of Judaic origin. The Bantu Y-chromosome samples are predominantly (>80%) YAP+ and include a modal haplotype at high frequency. Assuming a rapid expansion of the eastern Bantu, we used variation in microsatellite alleles in YAP+ sY81-G Bantu Y chromosomes to calculate a rough date, 3,000-5,000 years before the present, for the start of their expansion.
A number of genetic studies have been conducted on the Lemba. In 1996, Spurdle & Jenkins showed that more than 50% of the Lemba Y-DNA is Semitic in origin, approximately 40% is sub-Saharan African, and the ancestry of the remainder cannot be resolved. Perhaps surprisingly, a parallel study of mtDNA exhibited a very different pattern: practically no evidence of female ancestry from the Middle East can be found, as the female forebears of the Lemba were overwhelmingly African. Such findings indicate that the Lemba descend from the intermarriage of Semitic—though not necessarily Jewish—males and local African women.
A further study by Thomas et al. (2000) showed that a substantial number of Lemba men carry a particular polymorphism on the Y-chromosome known as the Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH). This genetic signature is associated with Jewish lineages that trace their descent from the priests, known as cohanim in Hebrew. According to the Jewish tradition, these men are direct male descendants of the Biblical Aaron, the older brother of Moses. (While many of the Cohanim bear last names like Cohen, Kogan, Katz, and the like, the correlation between the last name and whether a given man is a cohen is far from perfect). Curiously, the priestly sub-clan within the Lemba, the Buba, carries most of the CMH found in the ethnic group. However, another study has shown that some 34% of men in Yemen also exhibit close similarity to CMH, despite being found not to be closely related when more microsatellite markers are taken into account. Therefore, a larger number microsatellite markers would need to be tested in order to verify whether the Lemba Y-DNA is indeed derived from Jewish cohanim rather than other possible Semitic ancestors.
The Lemba have clan names like Sadiqui and Hamisi that are clearly Semitic and have an enigmatic identity that traces their origins to an ancient Jewish community in what is now Yemen. Although scholars had long dismissed their claims as having been adopted from tales spun by missionaries, research now confirms that the black-skinned Lemba are genetic cousins of white Sephardic Jews. A team of geneticists has determined that many Lemba carry in their male chromosome a set of DNA sequences that is distinctive of the Jewish priests believe to be the descendants of Aaron, one of the twelve original Jewish tribes.
The Lemba of Southern Africa
“We came from Sena, we crossed Pusela, we rebuilt Sena. In Sena they died like flies. We came from Hundji, to Chilimani. From Chilimani to Wedza. The tribes went to Zimbabwe. They built the walls and lived on the hill. Mwali sent the star. From Zimbabwe to Mberengwe. From Mberengwe to Dumghe. We carried the drum. We came to Venda, Solomon led us. Baramina was our ancestor.” — Ndinda Song
The Lemba are a paradoxical population of tens of thousands of self-proclaimed Jews who live in mostly in Malawi, Zimbabwe and the South African region of Venda. Their tribal lore, as told through the above “Ndinda song” which some Lemba sing during funerals and harvest festivals, is extensive, muddled and complex. “We came from Sena,” they claim, though none of them can say exactly where Sena is. Is it a town in Israel north of Jericho, as some Lemba claim? Is it a region of Yemen, as some ethnographers suggest, or a village on the Zambesi River in Mozambique, as British explorer and Orientalist Tudor Parfitt, who lived with the Lemba for six months to try to determine their true origin, believes? According to tribal lore, the Lemba are descendants of attendants of the Perspectives
My letter to a Lemba friend & his response
Me: I found very interesting to find an Israelite in the South of Africa although I believe it. I researched lately about the Lemba but couldn’t find as much info as I wanted to. Since you are a Lemba I would like to receive some responses about it if you don’t mind. Can you give me the name of every Lemba village, Lemba town, Lemba city including the region, province, district, state & country where that particular village, town or city is placed? Can you give me the amount of Lemba people living in that particular village, town or city? To finish this can you give me a complete list of Lemba last names & Lemba remarked indviduals? That’s my long list of information on the Lemba. I hope I didn’t bother you. Hurrah for Israel!
Lemba man: Shalom, No problem at all . Lembas are much concentrated on the mining belt from Mozambique to South Africa. In Zimbabwe , we are found in the areas of Wedza, Buhera ., Gutu , Majiri, Mapakomhere, Renco Mine, Chivi, Mberengwa and Dande. These places I have mentioned are not far from each other. These places are found in the Manicaland province, Masvingo province and the Midlands province. There are leaders whom you can approach in these communities , eg the Lemba chiefs, or the Lemba headman. Currently , because of my influential public office, I am their spokesman. You can find the Lemba last names if you go to one of our Facebook groups, Lemba cultural association LCA. In South Africa, you find them at a place called, Mussina and Thouyandou. Lemba villages are found in these places. Sorry I cannot know all their names. I hope I have given you the information that you needed. But, tell me something about yourself, what you do, where from, and why you need all this information. I would be more comfortable to deal with someone I know his back ground and his motives. Shalom.
Me: I just wanted to know where Dande is? This is what I found. Dande is In the Mt Darwin area.
Lemba man: The place is actually called Chitsungo. The Lemba there are the one who recently moved there from Gutu and Buhera during the Ian Smith regime. They immigrated there.
Me: This respectable Lemba man told me he had a dream of the Lemba making Aliyah to Israel. I felt this was a God’s sent revelation. I couldn’t deny what I felt about his dream was true. It reminded me of the scripture…Joel 2:28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
The Lemba/Vhalemba/Varemba are scattered all over South Africa and they are directly related to the Varemba in Zimbabwe and the Mwenye in Mozambique and elsewhere.
I decided to conduct my field research from a qualitative research point of view, mainly in three geographical areas, namely Sekhukhuneland , Venda and the southern parts of Zimbabwe .There are 100,000-member Lemba tribe of southern Africa. Lemba practice circumcision and don´t eat “impure” animals, which include pigs and creatures without split hooves. One Lemba version of their past claims the tribe left ancient Israel for Yemen and then wandered down Africa (The Jerusalem Report, July 15).
The oldest, recorded oral tradition of origin of the Lemba, also known as, musavi (buyer/trader), nyakuwana (the man who finds the things which are bought), or mulungu (white man or the man from the north) holds that their Israelite ancestors came by boat to Africa as traders, from a remote place, a city called Sena, on the other side of the Phusela. They do not know where or what ‘Phusela’ was, but in Africa , they erected trading posts at different places, and each time some of their people were left behind to take charge. They were in search of gold and after each trading expedition they went back to their country by sea. They kept themselves separate from the local peoples, but after a war broke out in their country they, (the savi [merchants]) could not return. They did not bring their wives along and now had to take wives from the local peoples ( w/vhazendji , ‘heathens’) – Rozwi, Karanga, Zezuru and Govera tribes. In Africa they rebuilt Sena in more than one place.
Parfitt investigated and indeed found a ancient city named Sena, at the end of the wadi Hadramaut, just before the valley turns away towards the sea. It was situated on the trade route, from the sea to Terim. The valley that leads from Sena in the eastern Hadramaut to an old port on the Yemini coast called Sayhut, is the Wadi al-Masilah. Parfitt believes that Masilah may be the ‘Phusela’ of Lemba oral tradition.Further investigation showed that some of the clan and sub-clan names of the Lemba such as Hadzhi, Hamisi, Bakali, Sadiki and Seremane correlate with commonplace names in the eastern Hadramaut. Not one of them had the means to ascertain in advance, whether their clan names correlated with the commonplace names in the Hadramaut. One conclusion is that their oral traditions are very old.From DNA samples, taken specifically from their priestly clan, the Buba, a very close relation has emerged between them (the Buba) and those of the cohaniem (priesthood) in Israel and all over the world.
Lemba clan names & some last names seem as semitic as their DNA
Ovakale Dzimbabwe- meaning the ones who built Great ZIMBABWE.
Va Hasani -from HASSAN, Vaseremani-from SULMAN, Va Hadzi- From HADJI, Va Sarifu-from SALIFF, Va Hammadi- from MUHAMMAD, VaHamisi- from HAMMISH, Va Mhani-from MANNI. So you can see the link between these names and our ISRAEL and YEMEN Counterparts.
Madula, the oldman, was buried at bandliekop next to makhado he was Sadiki. None of his kids has used sadiki.
From royal kraal at Yemen before Africa it was Saddik, Hadji, Tovakal, Hammis, Bhubha, Sereman, Mannih…Then comes to Africa some of them begging to change their names that’s why we have Mposi, Hamandishe, Siavhe, Mathivha, Sathege and so on. Our language depends on our location, that’s why speak Venda, Zulu, Sotho, Tsonga and other languages …
That is the name that has never changed since we dwelled in Yemen city saana the one we build in israel we weh called Tzadik but in other places like Egypt, Tunisia, France etc Sadiki or Sidikie. Ngavhi/Zungunde is under Dumah clan. Dumah means silence in Hebrew.
Ngavi isn’t Zungunde. Ngavi falls under Madi/Madhi. They also use Chihora. Ravengai Zungunde are Dumhas not Ngavi. Ngavi is Chihora, Vamupfure, vekuGato….and Zungunde are Zungunde Matanda Warukorerwemvura…. Are These people related? Marimazhira, Malima, Malema, Karimanzira, Chirimanzira, Raulinga, Wuriga?
Zhou Takavafira Mposi is rarely used as surname now. Mposi is now a ruling title or dynasty for the Sadiki. They use Sadiki, Zhou, Chamakofa, Zimi, Matandu, Makotore, Madziva, Mawerewere, Machimba, Simari, Chinyoka, Nangani, Rusvanhu, Maezere, Mazvinganye, Machingamidze etc. There are more than 5000 surnames used by lembas in Zimbabwe.
Is Ra. a prefix of some sorts, are people who are called Ramadi….in actual fact Madi with the Ra prefix added to it Ra -Madi and Ra- Mashidzha Ra- Ulinga etc, This would help us link them to their Zimbabwean counterparts and to their Lemba houses. Mathivha the late suggested in his book that Ra is some prefix, normally given when one is initiated.
Then so we can safely assume Ramani is a Mani/Madi and Raulinga is most probably Wuriga. I heard the Raulingas are Hamis too, just like the Wurigas. Can Mashidhza be linked to Kushizha, Shona for Slaughtering. However we need to be careful when linking words and names to their sound alikes in other languages, coz more often than not every word will have a sound alike in every other language and therefore we might end up linking the unlinkable. Raulinga is indeed a Hamisi.
Out of the edited posted Lemba surnames which once are under the MANGE (Tshinyakadzi) Clan-age? Ramashidzha is indeed a Hadzhi (Haji).
We have Chibayas in Masvingo. Can these be related Silaigwana, Surungwani, Sillingwani, Ratshilingana. I understand the Surungwanis are Seremani Warerwas how about the others above. The Manges are Zvandasara, Hwingwiri, Marazane, Marazanye, Nhundu, Rufurwekuda, Museba/Museva, Mushayabasa.
Chibaya and Ratshibaya are one thing but are under Mange (Tshinyaladzi). Ndouvhada & Mzezewa are Hdji. Rasikhanela is Sadiki all in Zimbabwe.
Shavira, Mfandaedza, Goka/Kgoka, Mashavakure, Tichivangani, Nkamba, Majinkila, Matore, Kure, Mhani. All these are Mhani/Manis houses in Mbelengwa.
I strongly believe that Lemba people & Igbo people are related.We look alike in our faces, & our writing languages are related too, shalom. Sadiki comes from Tzaddik which is the Hebrew for a Saint.
- Does Harar in Ethiopia have any relation with Harare in Zimbabwe? Harare in Zimbabwe was founded as Salisbury & in 1982 changed its name taking it from a village near called Harare Kopje which was called in turn after the Shona chief Neharawa.
- The Lemba came from Yemen thru Ethiopia. It’s believed they built the ancient city of the Great Zimbabwe. The Lemba speak Shona in Zimbabwe. They intermingled with local Shona & Venda after centuries but preserving their Jewish genes & traditions. If they were so remarkable some would have intermingled with the local Shona nobility, therefore that could be the reason for the name Harare after the Ethiopian city of Harar from where the Lemba passed thru.
- Let’s remember that in Hebrew vowels are what really count, contrary to consonants. I wouldn’t think either that it’s by chance that Harar in Ethiopia is not very far away from the Red Sea the Lemba crossed. It’s ironic that the ancient Israelites crossed over the Red Sea & their Lemba offspring did the same farther south in the opposite direction. Harar was founded between the 7th and the 11th century (according to different sources) and emerged as the center of Islamic culture and religion in the Horn of Africa. This is centuries after the Lemba crossed from Yemen thru Ethiopia.
- The interesting point is that the founders of this city came from the same area of the Lemba: Yemen. In other words, the founders of Harar, Ethiopia, came from Yemen as the possible founders of the village of Harare, from which the Zimbabwean capital received its name later. The current inhabitants of Yemen, even if they are Moslems, have a large proportion of the Cohen gene.
- Yemen was a Jewish kingdom called Hymiar founded in 110 B. C. Since the time of King Solomon of Israel & the queen of Sheba/Saba many Israelites settled there. Harar is the capital of the region of Harari, Ethiopia. The Hararis are Semite Ethiopians. Most Ethiopians are Semitic or Hamitic. It’s also interesting that Harari is a Jewish last name. There’s also a Harare in Lebanon, & all of current Lebanon was part of the Solomonic-Davidic Empire of Israel.
The construction of the Great Zimbabwe is claimed by the Lemba. This ethnic group of Zimbabwe and South Africa has a tradition of ancient Jewish or South Arabian descent through their male line, which is supported by recent DNA studies, and female ancestry derived from the Karanga subgroup of the Shona. Are the Shona (or part of them) Israelites, being the Lemba the only ones or the core that preserve Hebrew costums?
The Lemba are considered to be Black African Semites. They spoke Lemba, nowadays extinct. Today they speak Shona, Venda, English & Portuguese. Sometimes they are considered as part of the Venda although it is known their Semitic origin. Venda & Shona are the southern Bantu languages & peoples that neighbor the Vharemba.
They came from Jews that came from Yemen. Some scholars think they come from Arabs because of their last names & some costums. The truth is their ancestors were Jews from Yemen & Yemen hosted a large Israelite population since ancient times. That’s probably why Yemeni Moslems still have as high percentage of 67% of the Cohen genes. The Israelite numbers in Yemn were so large that this might be the reason why Yemen became officially Jewish under the name of Kingdom of Himyar.
Inspite their preference for endogamy there must have been some marriages out of the Lemba community with their Shona & Venda neighbors as DNA proves it. Some of their Bantu neighbors may have some Lemba DNA too. Blowing the shofar is a typical Israelite costume. I believe the Lemba coexistence & neighboring with Bantu (Shona & Venda) peoples must have had an impact in those peoples. So you could find several individual Shonas & Vendas with Lemba genes & even Israelite traditions like the blowing of the shofar.
There are numerous versions of their myths of origin, but they generally tell of migrating from the North (which is common to many African ethnicities.) According to Lemba tradition, their male ancestors were Near Eastern Jews who left Judea about 2,500 years ago and settled in a place called Senna in the Arabian peninsula (present-day Yemen). Much later, they migrated into North East Africa.
According to the British scholar, Tudor Parfitt, who published a book on his findings in 1993, the location of Senna was more than likely in Yemen, specifically, in the village of Sanāw within the easternmost portion of the Wadi Hadhramaut. The city has had a Jewish population since ancient times, but since 1948 and the founding of the State of Israel, as well as later wars, it has dwindled to a few hundred. In Lemba tradition, Sena has the semi-mythical status of a sacred city of origin and hopes for eventual return.
According to Lemba oral tradition, their male ancestry originally comprised several male “white people from over the sea” who came to southeast Africa from a country which boasted large cities in order to obtain gold. After becoming established in Africa, at some point, the tribe split into two groups, one staying in Ethiopia and the other travelling farther south, along the east coast.
The Lemba claim that this second group settled in Tanzania and Kenya, building what was referred to as another Sena, or “Sena II”. Others supposedly settled in Malawi, where their descendants reside today. Some settled in Mozambique, eventually migrating to Zimbabwe and South Africa. They claim to have constructed Great Zimbabwe, now a monument. Ken Mufuka, a black Zimbabwean archaeologist thinks that the Lemba may have contributed but would not have been solely responsible. Tudor Parfitt and Magdel le Roux think that they at least helped construct the massive city. But, most academics agree that the construction of the enclosure at Great Zimbabwe is largely attributable to the ancestors of the Shona, who were first to displace the indigenous Khoi-San Bushmen from the region. Such works were typical of their ancestral civilisations.
The Lemba have endogamous marriage patterns, discouraging marriage to non-Lemba. Normative Orthodox Judaism today recognises only matrilineal descent as determining Judaism from birth . Patrilineal descent was once the norm among the Israelites. The restrictions on intermarriage with non-Lemba make it nearly impossible for a male non-Lemba to become a member. Lemba men who marry non-Lemba women are expelled from the community unless the females agree to live according to Lemba traditions. A woman who marries a Lemba man must learn and practice the Lemba religion, dietary rules and other customs. The woman may not bring any cooking equipment from her previous home. Initially, the woman may have to shave her head. Their children must be brought up as Lemba. If the Lemba had Jewish ancestors, the requirement to shave the head may date back to rituals associated with converting the first Lemba women to Judaism, the means for the Jewish males to acquire women. Genetic MtDNA data (see below) has shown no connection among the women with Jewish ancestors.
According to Tooke, in the 19th and early 20th centuries the Lemba were highly esteemed by surrounding tribes in the Zoutpansberg region of South Africa for their mining and metalwork skills. He wrote in his 1937 book that the other tribes regarded the Lemba as outsiders. According to articles written durin the early 1930s, in the 1920s the Lembas’ medical knowledge earned them respect among tribes in South Africa. Parfitt claimed in his article on the Lemba in his 2002 book that colonial Europeans had their own reasons for distinguishing some tribes instead of others as indigenous to Africa, because it gave them a greater right to be in the continent. Modern DNA evidence, however, confirms the extra-African origin of some of the Lembas’ ancestors. By contrast, the lead anthropologist in Zimbabwe firmly places them among African peoples, ignoring the DNA evidence.
Sena Israelites from Mozambique
It’s interesting that in Mozambique, not far from Lemba Inhabited areas, there’s a tribe with the very name of the location from which the Lemba claim to come from: Sena. Do Senas in Mozambique, or part of them, have Lemba ancestry? According to Lembas this is the case, although the Senas didn’t preserve thair Israelite traditions.
The Sena are major people of Mozambique. Historically the autocephalous Sena groups were situated between the two major centralised kingdoms of Monomotapa (cf. Great Zimbabwe) and of Maravi (in today’s Malawi) or between the two cultures of Shona and Nyanja-Chewa. In the 16th century, Portuguese traders and missionaries arrived in the Zambezi valley (stations in Sena, Tete, Zumbo, Quelimane); during the 19th century, Portuguese descendants built even small military states involved in the ongoing slave trade. Finally during the scramble for Africa the weakened Portuguese crown leased this region to British compagnies, which built the railway connections between the Indian Ocean and their colonies, in this case the TZR, Trans-Zambezi-Railway, between Beira and Njassaland/Malawi via Sena. Once Portugal under Salazar during the 1940s had gained control over the region, then it introduced forced cotton growing and forced labor “contracts” with British colonies.
Thus Sena people, who had no opportunities to receive formal education beyond the first classes of primary school, underwent exposure to social and political organisation in the mining centres of neighbouring English speaking colonies and acquired civic awareness through domestic oppression and even massacres. Therefore Sena were very involved in passive resistance to the colonial system and in the active liberation struggle, which led to independence in 1975.
The region suffered soon again very heavily from the global East-West confrontation, from a proxy-war first of Rhodesia and then of apartheid South Africa against the Frontline States, which led finally to an internal civil war between Renamo and Frelimo.
Although Mozambique has a recent record of economic growth, this is not evenly distributed and the Sena especially claim not profiting at all from this development. This and various other forms of social polarisation and division have constituted a major challenge; the country still hasn’t implemented a commission along the lines of post-apartheid South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. An ambitious reconstruction process was started in 2006, reaching slowly sensitive zones of Central and Northern Mozambique.
Mozambique 1,710,000 Zimbabwe 134,000
POPULATION ALL COUNTRIES 1,844,000
A possible Semitic origin for ancient Zimbabwe
It is beyond dispute that the Indian Ocean, including much of its African coastline, has been travelled for more than two thousand years. For instance, there is a record of Phoenicians circumnavigating Africa in about 600 BC (Herodotus, c450 BC). This claim is bolstered by their report that the midday sun was on their right while they were sailing westwards – which Herodotus refused to believe – but that would of course be a feature of the southern hemisphere.
Arab traders were certainly visiting Zanzibar and Dar-es-Salaam before the beginning of the Christian era, and around 60 AD the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea was compiled (in Greek) as a guide to East African, Arab and Indian sailors. Most scholars doubt whether its coverage extended beyond Tanzania, but Peters (1902) argues that the “Fire Islands” mentioned there, could well have been the volcanic Comoro group, because they are placed at the entrance to the “Channel”. The description in the Periplus continues further southwards, although names of rivers and harbours can no longer be identified with certainty.
Many centuries ago, there was actually a mass migration from the East Indies to Madagascar – evidenced by the relationship between Malay and a main language of that island; thus, it seems likely that Asian explorers were already well acquainted with the southwest Indian Ocean when the Periplus was written.
In the sixth century AD there was a reference by the Alexandrian merchant Cosmas Indicopleustes to gold acquired by trade with southeast Africa – where “winter occurred during northern hemisphere summer” (McCrindle, 1897). Mas’udi and Ibn Al Wardy confirm that gold was apparently being exported during the ninth and tenth centuries from Sofala (de Maynard and de Courtaille, 1864; Kenyon, 1931; Hall, 1909) – which is an old Arab trading post on the coast, east of Great Zimbabwe.
It is possible that some early seafarers would have made a point of testing river effluent for auriferous deposits – in which case they would probably have detected something in the alluvial mud at the mouths of the Zambezi and Save.
Citing the Yemeni writer Al-Hamdani of 942 AD, Horton (1987) alludes to a policy of deliberately keeping secret that southeast African gold source.
The Lemba tribe in the extreme north of South Africa could well be the remnant of a Semitic community which once occupied Zimbabwe, and which managed to flee when that territory was overrun. They have an oral tradition that their male ancestry originally comprised “white people from over the sea” who came to southeast Africa – from a country which boasted large cities – in order to obtain gold.
The MaLemba refuse to eat pork, rabbit, hare, carrion and scaleless fish, exactly as laid down in Leviticus chapter 11 When preparing meat for consumption, they always kill in the kosher manner by bleeding. The Lembas also have a distinctive New Moon ceremony. A ritual of sacrifice that the Lembas call the “Pesah”, which seems similar in many ways to the Jewish Pesach or Passover. A number of words and clan-names used by Lembas must have had a Semitic origin: Sadiki, Hasane, Hamisi, Haji, Bakeri, Sharifo and Saidi (which is one of their words for “master”). Furthermore, some Lembas possess aquiline noses and narrow, non-Bantu lips. (Here, it is relevant to mention that there are also indications of Semitic blood, although more diluted, in Vendas and Karangas – implying that traces of the original Zimbabwean genetic material survive in these other communities too).
The Reverend A.A. Jaques (1931) tells us that Lemba prayers were ended by saying “Amin” – which is of course a Jewish custom as well as a Christian one. However, their liturgy bore absolutely no resemblance to any of the Christian liturgies. On the contrary, Jaques cited what might be a reference to Moses in one of the Lemba prayers. He also mentioned that the Lemba had a taboo about eating with the left hand. Van Warmelo (1966) recorded other examples of Lemba prayers uttered in a completely alien, non-Bantu tongue. Those devotees had absolutely no idea what the words meant – but claimed nevertheless that they represented the language of their forefathers.
The MaLemba claim that their ancestors constructed Great Zimbabwe; in fact, there is evidence that they continued to build in stone even after they had fled across the Limpopo.
During the early 20th century, the Lembas were markedly different in many ways from the other tribes around them. In particular, the Lembas were renowned for their mining and metallurgical skills. For many decades, the Lembas continued to provide neighbouring tribes with metal tools and containers – using copper obtained from deposits in their area.
The Lembas bury their dead in an extended position, in contrast to the “crouched” posture adopted by other Bantu peoples. In that respect, the Lemba custom resembles the one which was followed by the ancient Zimbabweans – whose graves can readily be identified by the presence of gold jewellery
Stone spindle whorls found at Great Zimbabwe indicate that cotton was spun and woven with greater sophistication there, than was displayed in other regions occupied by Bantu tribes. Cotton is of course not indigenous to southern Africa, but a few (now wild) cotton trees nevertheless seem to have been planted near that ancient city.
Two reports cited by le Roux (2003, pp. 46-47) are consistent with the theory that the Lemba (or their ancestors) created the ancient Zimbabwean civilization. William Bolts (1777) had been sent to southeast Africa by the Austrian Habsburg authorities to search for gold; he wrote: “A people called MaLembe resort to [Sofala] at stated periods from a country … said to be several weeks’ journey [away]”. Punt (1975) refers to another letter sent to Vienna in 1777 by Bolts which described “a big and important city called Zimbabwe where gold was mined and gold articles were manufactured by a tribe known as the BaLemba”. And in a later account compiled by Anderson (1887) after visiting the area, we read: “The natives state that the gold was worked and the forts were built by white men who once occupied this country, and whom they call Abberlomba”; (elsewhere in his book, Anderson spells this “Abberlemba”).
The old Lemba language was a variation of Karanga – i.e., the dialect of Shona which is spoken today in the area around Great Zimbabwe and Masvingo. This supports the Lemba tradition that they migrated from that region. If, earlier, there had been a mass immigration from the Middle East to southeast Africa, then it is likely that males would have outnumbered females, such that wives and concubines would have been taken from the local population – with this process continuing for several centuries; indeed, this was reflected in the genetic analyses carried out by Spurdle and Jenkins (1996). It is a well-known fact that children learn their mother’s language more easily than their father’s one, which could explain why that community eventually adopted the Karanga language.
The ancient irrigation systems in the Zoutpansberg in South Africa have been described by Trevor (1930), and may be compared with those found in Nyanga in northeast Zimbabwe. Trevor believes that those in the Zoutpansberg had previously been utilised by the BaVenda people (with whom the MaLemba were closely associated).
Gayre (1972) and Bent (1896) suggested that the male ancestry of the ancient Zimbabweans was derived from the Sabaeans of southern Arabia (adding that the Abyssinians probably took over the gold trade eventually). Many questions still need to be answered, but Sabaeans certainly were wealthy gold miners (Pliny the Elder, c70AD) – although it is not known where their mines were – with substantial commercial interests in East Africa (Gayre, 1972, pp. 20-21, 31; Murdock 1959). They spoke a Semitic language – closely related to Arabic – and followed a Judaistic type of religion (including circumcision) between the fifth and seventh centuries AD. Like the Lembas, they lived by the Moon; [both Gayre (1972, pp. 155, 159) and de Barros (1552) mention a tradition that there was once a moon dynasty in Zimbabwe]. Furthermore, the Sabaeans constructed dams to serve their terraced agriculture, and built elliptical unroofed dry-stone temples at Marib and at Sirwah (Doe, 1971).
The current ‘consensus’ in academic circles is that the ancient Zimbabwean civilization was created by Shona-speaking people – based on the fact that in recent decades nothing whatsoever has been published to support the alternative (Semitic-based) theory. However, after the identification – in the late 1990s – of Jewish DNA in the Lembas, it is now appropriate to reopen the debate.
Who Are Lembas?
Recent genetic analyses have established a possible Middle-Eastern,Semitic origin for a portion of the Lemba population. The name “Lemba” may originate in chilemba, a Swahili wordfor turbans worn by East Africans or lembi a Bantu word meaning “non-African” or “respected foreigner”.
In the Zoutpansberg region in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Lemba were so highly esteemed for their mining and metalwork skills that surrounding tribes regarded them as an almost alien (but very welcome) community.
Mendez et al. (2011) observed that a moderately high frequency of the studied Lemba samplescarried Y-DNA Haplogroup T, which is considered to be of Near Eastern origin. However, the Lemba T carriersbelonged exclusively to T1b*, which is different from the Jews of Near East and Africa but share a similar estimateexpansion time with the T1* Somalis.
The Great Zimbabwe Synagogue
The Lemba community of Zimbabwe has taken the first steps to build a synagogue, an amazing “first” for a community that traces its origins back to ancient Jews. They have the land, donated labor, and some building materials, and now are in great need of funds to proceed with this historic initiative.
Kulanu has formed a supportive partnership with the Lemba of Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in the southern part of Africa, to build the synagogue.
The location of the land on which the synagogue will be built, a donated property in the
rural village of Mapakomhere, about 350 kilometers from the capital Harare, is particularly
significant. The synagogue will be called The Great Zimbabwe Synagogue, as it is close to the site of The Great Zimbabwe, a famous world-heritage archaeological site. Lemba oral tradition says the site was built by Lemba residents of the area.
The synagogue is crucial to the preservation of an ancient Jewish community weakened by
harassment that demanded secrecy in their religious practices, proselytizing by Christians and Muslims, and inroads of modernization into traditional village life.
Since a nationwide gathering of the Zimbabwe Lemba Cultural Association in 1994, the decision was made to join the world of mainstream Judaism. Kulanu believes that the construction of the Great Zimbabwe Synagogue will stand as a powerful symbol that will lead to a resurgence in Jewish practice and learning among many Lemba communities throughout Zimbabwe.
Kulanu has agreed to partner with the Lemba to preserve their traditions and to join the mainstream Jewish world.
According to the oral history of the Lemba, they had male ancestors who were Jews who left Judea about 2,500 years ago and settled in a place called Senna, later migrating into East Africa.
After entering Africa, the tribe is said to have split off into two groups, with one staying in Ethiopia, and the other traveling farther south, along the east coast. The Lemba claim this second group settled in Tanzania and Kenya, and built what was referred to as “Sena II.” Others were said to have settled in Malawi, where descendants reside today. Some settled in Mozambique, and eventually migrated to South Africa and Zimbabwe, where they claim to have constructed or helped construct the “great enclosure.”
The Lemba. A lost tribe of Israel in Southern Africa
The Lemba are scattered all over South Africa and they are directly related to the Varemba in Zimbabwe and the Mwenye in Mozambique and elsewhere.
The Lemba’s enthusiasm for sacred hills, animal sacrifice, ritual slaughtering of animals, food taboes, their circumcision rites and endogamy – all seemed to suggest a Semitic influence or resemblances, imbedded in an African culture.
The oldest, recorded oral tradition of origin of the Lemba, also known as, musavi (buyer/trader), nyakuwana (the man who finds the things which are bought), or mulungu (white man or the man from the north) holds that their Israelite ancestors came by boat to Africa as traders, from a remote place, a city called Sena, on the other side of the Phusela. They do not know where or what ‘Phusela’ was, but in Africa , they erected trading posts at different places, and each time some of their people were left behind to take charge. They were in search of gold and after each trading expedition they went back to their country by sea. They kept themselves separate from the local peoples, but after a war broke out in their country they, (the savi [merchants]) could not return. They did not bring their wives along and now had to take wives from the local peoples ( w/vhazendji , ‘heathens’) – Rozwi, Karanga, Zezuru and Govera tribes.
Parfitt investigated and indeed found a ancient city named Sena, at the end of the wadi Hadramaut, just before the valley turns away towards the sea. It was situated on the trade route, from the sea to Terim. The valley that leads from Sena in the eastern Hadramaut to an old port on the Yemini coast called Sayhut, is the Wadi al-Masilah. Parfitt believes that Masilah may be the ‘Phusela’ of Lemba oral tradition.
Further investigation showed that some of the clan and sub-clan names of the Lemba such as Hadzhi, Hamisi, Bakali, Sadiki and Seremane correlate with commonplace names in the eastern Hadramaut. Not one of them had the means to ascertain in advance, whether their clan names correlated with the commonplace names in the Hadramaut. One conclusion is that their oral traditions are very old.
One informant in Soweto remembered that his grandfather told him that they originally had come from a place, called Sena ‘somewhere south of Jericho ‘. A place called ‘Sena’, ‘south of Jericho ‘ can not be found on ancient maps of Israel or Moab , but surprisingly, a city called ‘Lemba’ is indicated. It was also found that the historian Josephus referred to this city of ‘Lemba’ on more than one occassion.
The Lemba could not remember the name of their country but they know they were masters of iron and copper smelting and working. In their country they made pots, grew and wove cotton and were masters of timber work, because they had to build their own ships for their maritime undertakings and they have the tradition that they were very much involved in the building of Great Zimbabwe.
Only some of the most salient concurrences will briefly be mentioned here: One of the most important dietary laws of the Lemba is that they have to separate themselves, the’chosen people’ from the vhasendzhi or ‘heathen, because the latter are uncircumcised and are the ‘eaters of dead meat’. They are not allowed to eat pork or the food of the gentiles. Do do not mix meat and milk. Burial practices correspond remarkable with that of early Israel . Repeating names of ancestors – reminds one of the creed of the Israelite clans which was repeated at important events.
According to him, Judaism was imposed on the sities of ancient Moab by Alexander Janneus in c. 103-76 BC of which Lemba was one (Ant XIII). Whether this city has anything to do with the Lemba people here in Southen Africa, one would never know. And elsewhere Josephus refers to a group of priests and Levites who fled from Palestine into Egypt at the persecutions of Anthiochus IV Epiphanus almost a hundred years earlier, in 175-163 BC and who most probably established a kind of Judaistic influence in the north of Africa . Nothing could have stopped some of these priestly groups from migrating further southwards into Africa .
I compare the Lemba with early Israel (1250-1000 BC), since: (I) their communities function according to a segmented clan system without a common leader; (ii) this period is interesting for the study of oral cultures; and (iii) they regard themselves as ‘children of Abraham’ who at one stage or another stage came to Africa and because they are available.
The Lemba came from Sena
NARRATOR: Parfitt may uncover more clues to the Lemba’s origins if he can find Sena. Did Jewish populations live there in the past? Do today’s inhabitants have any genetic similarities to the Lemba or the Cohanim? His next stop is the village of Sintamule to visit a local expert on Lemba history, William Masala.
TUDOR PARFITT: William, what proof is there that the Sena that you talk of, the people of Sena that you talk of, are connected in any way with the people of Israel?
WILLIAM MASALA: It’s in the Bible.
TUTOR PARFITT: In the Bible? Where?
WILLIAM MASALA: Nehemiah 7, verse 38.
TUDOR PARFITT: This is talking about the children of Israel coming back from Babylon, is that right?
WILLIAM MASALA: That’s right, yes.
TUDOR PARFITT: And there is a reference to Sena there?
WILLAIM MASALA: Yes, yes, in the Bible. “The children of Sena, 3,930.”
TUDOR PARFITT: Now, you talk about Sena. Where is – where is Sena?
WILLIAM MASALA: This book tells us that Sena is in Jericho.
TUDOR PARFITT: In Jericho, in Israel – in Palestine actually, it’s part of the Palestine authority.
WILLIAM MASALA: Yes. Jericho, near Jerusalem.
NARRATOR: Based on his biblical dictionary, William Masala places Sena near Jerusalem. But the Lemba oral tradition is much less specific.
TUDOR PARFITT: Even at the beginning of Islam there were Jews in Arabia. There are references in the Islamic texts of Jews living here at the time of Mohammed. In this area there was a Jewish kingdom and the legendary king, Dhu Nuwas, who fought against the Ethiopians and died driving his charger into the Red Sea. So the whole place is redolent with Jewish history.
NARRATOR: The following day, Parfitt continues on to what he hopes will be the legendary homeland of the Lemba – Sena. Today Sena is dusty and dry – not the sort of place one would think of as paradise. But according to local legend, the city once was lush and teeming with life – until its great stone dam cracked, leaving the town without proper irrigation. About a thousand years ago, people began to leave in great numbers – including, perhaps, the Lemba.
Black-Jewish Relations: The Black Jewish or Hebrew Israelite Community
This essay attempts to bear witness to true diversity that exists within the Jewish world. Though the focus is necessarily on those communities that I am most family with, I attempt to give a broader insight and offer some analysis of the unique dynamics that are at work. It is also important to remember that not all of these groups accept the terms used to describe them. Some, in fact, reject the term “Jew” precisely because it connotes, in the minds of most people, a white ethnic group. Therefore, the use of this appellation could be misinterpreted as a desire to be white or a denial of African heritage. In either case, its application could be regarded as an affront by some. The groups who feel this way prefer the term Hebrew or Israelite because they believe it avoids a connection with “whiteness,” or conversely, implies a connection with “blackness.” It is with these two caveats concerning “race” that I use the term Jew as a de-racialized description of people who are neither Christian nor Muslim but who profess to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. No offense is intended by my choice of terms and I hope that none will be taken. I offer a fuller exploration of the “racial question” in Judaism elsewhere on this homepage. The information that follows comes from my dissertation research at Columbia University and from my personal knowledge as a rabbi in one of the oldest and largest communities of Black Jews in America.
Estimates for the total number of Black Jews in America range from 40,000, reported by the Encyclopedia of Black America, to 500,000 as stated in a feature story about Black Jews in Ascent magazine. Unfortunately, none of the sources reveal how they arrived at their figures.
The problem of determining a reliable estimate of the number of Black Jews in America is made more complicated by the difficulty of determining who is a “Black Jew.” For instance, Arthur Huff Fauset in his pioneering study, Black Gods of the Metropolis, used a Philadelphia-based group called the “Church of God” as the basis for a chapter about “Black Jews.” If one simply took an affinity with the Old Testament and the observance of a few customs as a definition of being Jewish, as do Fauset and others, then one’s figures could be quite high; though very inaccurate because they would count as Black Jews segments of what is usually considered the Black Church.
On the other hand, if one used Orthodox Jewish Law, called “Halackah,” as the basis for defining who is a Jew, one would have to know the religion of the mother of each person; because, by this law, one cannot decide to be a Jew unless one’s mother is a Jew. If the person or group claimed to have converted to Judaism, then one would have to know if they underwent certain rituals that involve the taking of special baths, (mikvot) and in the case of a man, the symbolic pricking of his penis.
Halakhic Law offers a very precise definition of who is a Jew. However, since fewer than ten percent of the 5.3 million white Jews in America observe Orthodox Jewish Law, this standard cannot be applied to Black Jews, nor could I verify baths or pricked penises if I wanted to. In addition, I am aware of a number of African American individuals and one New Jersey congregation that have undergone formal conversion only to find that the “legitimacy” of their conversion was not universally accepted.
Since the particular Halakhic ceremony described above is not found in the Torah, nor is it referred to in any of the biblical instances where people joined the Hebrew faith, (Ruth for example), we do not believe that it has the weight of law. Also, we feel that it denies the concept of divine intervention and selection referred to in Isaiah 11:11-12 and Jeremiah 3:14. In these passages the Hebrew prophets state that God will be responsible for the gathering of His people which He shall choose from the “four corners of the earth” and the from “islands of the sea.” This process is described as a selection of individuals rather than of groups, “I will take you one from a city, and two from a family, I will bring you to Zion.” The fact that Orthodox rabbis hold that they are the sole arbiters of deciding who is a Jew negates the existence or exercise of a divine will that is not channeled through them first. In contrast, the ceremony we use serves as a public acknowledgment of a spiritual transformation that has already taken place within the individual.
Beyond this type of problem, however, there are a number of political reservations that we hold regarding the way that people are “accepted” into Judaism. The Halakhic procedures require recognition of and acquiescence to Orthodox authority. Further, the Halakhic standard conflates membership in a religion (a belief system or way of life accepted on faith) with acceptance or approval of a particular religious body. An appropriate analogy, that comes very close to describing our situation, is that the Pope or Catholic Church can decide who is a Catholic but, he can not decide who is a Christian. [The fact that some have tried notwithstanding.] Similarly, various boards or councils may decide who is an “Orthodox Jew” for instance but, they can not presume to act as God in judging the content of a person’s heart or the sincerity of one’s faith.
Judaism, as many of us understand and practice it, is not a race. If it were, then no one could join it or leave it without being genetically altered. Judaism is a creed; a living culture with an ancient history. Those who practice it belong to communities that often have unique traditions. Though it may not appear as such, most Jews belong to definable communities which have traditions that come out of their own histories. Sadly, some of the more influential communities attempt to exercise a hegemony over the others. Black Jews generally reject the presumptive authority of such groups–though they accept many of their traditions and interpretations on other matters. Because of this, Black Jews exist on the margins of Jewish society though well within the pale of principled disagreement.
Rather than inventing an arbitrary definition or imposing a contested definition of Judaism onto the Black Jewish community, I have chosen instead to discuss those groups that describe themselves as either Black Jews, Hebrews, or Israelites. This approach will allow the reader to understand how they, the subjects of this study, define Judaism and practice it. In this regard, I have found that a variety of very interesting, complex, and still evolving notions of Judaism exist. It is my goal to analyze the major theological, cultural, and political views that circulate within these congregations in order to understand how they are informed by issues of race, religion, and historical circumstances.
Rabbi W.A. Matthew — The Black Jews of HarlemMy background and most of my data come from working with those congregations that derive from the late Chief Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew (1892-1973). Rabbi Matthew founded the Commandment Keepers Congregation in Harlem, New York in 1919. He trained and ordained many of the rabbis who later founded synagogues in various places of the United States and the Caribbean. Rabbi Matthew, it turns out, was a close associate of Rabbi Arnold J. Ford who was the musical director of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) which was organized by Marcus Garvey in 1911.
The emergence of Judaism among people of African descent in the first half of this century was made possible by a combination of the following factors: (1) A strong religious tradition in the background of the person who became Jewish that embodied Jewish practices from an early but unclear source. When interviewed, many of the older members of this community recall memories of their parents observing certain dietary laws, such as abstaining from pork or salting their meat. Others recall traditions related to observing the Sabbath or festivals such as Passover and Sukkot. In most cases these practices were fragmentary and observed by people who simultaneously practiced Christianity.
The possible origins of these Hebraic traditions could be traced to West Africa were a number of tribes have customs so similar to Judaism that an ancient connection or maybe even descent from one of the “ten lost tribes” is believed. Other possibilities for these well-documented practices are through association with Jewish slave owners and merchants in the Caribbean and North America. In this case, the number of Jewish slave owners is known to have been small and proselytizing by Jews was not common. Yet, these Jews can not be excluded as one possible source either through isolated conversions, intermarriage, or providing an opportunity for observation.
Many African Americans who practice Judaism today maintain that they have always had a close affinity with the Hebrews of the Old Testament. This is true whether or not they recall particular rites that remind them of the Jewish traditions they now follow. Scholars such as Albert Raboteau have described in books such as Slave Religion that the biblical struggles of the Hebrew people–particularly their slavery and exodus from Egypt–bore a strong similarity to the conditions of African slaves and was therefore of special importance to them. This close identification with the biblical Hebrews is clearly seen in the lyrics of gospel songs such as “Go Down Moses” and remains a favorite theme in the sermons of black clergy today.
What all this proves is that there was a foundation, be it psychological , spiritual, or historical, that made some black people receptive to the direct appeal to Judaism that Rabbi Matthew and others made to them in this century. If black people were fertile ground for the harbingers of Judaism, then the philosophy of Marcus Garvey was the seed that helped to bring it to fruition. Put most simply, Garvey’s message was one of Black Nationalism and Pan Africanism. His goal was to instill pride in a people who were being humiliated through institutionalized racism and cultural bigotry. Garvey and Matthew attempted to challenge old stereotypes that either minimized a black presence in history or the bible, or, that completely excised black people from these texts. They argued that such distortions and omissions were harmful to the self-image that many black people had of themselves. They debunked these myths by extolling the contributions that black people made to the development of human civilization. To some extent this meant focusing on the achievements of African societies such as Egypt and Ethiopia in highly rhetorical and romantic way. It also meant attacking the false image that all the people in the bible looked like Europeans. They pointed out that by normative standards the dark hues of the ancient Hebrews would cause them to be classified as black in today’s world. This was a revelation to thousands of black people who had previously accepted the all white depictions without question.
Rabbi Ford and Rabbi Matthew took Garvey’s philosophy one step further. They reasoned that if many of the ancient Hebrews were black, then Judaism was as much a part of their cultural and religious heritage as is Christianity. In their hearts and minds they were not converting to Judaism, they were reclaiming part of their legacy. This fit very neatly with the biblical prophecies that spoke of the Israelites being scattered all over the world, being carried in slave ships to distant lands, and of being forced to worship alien Gods. (Deut 28)
Rabbi Matthew found himself in the peculiar position of having to both justify his small following of black Jews in Harlem, and also to explain the presence of so many white Jews. His position on this subject went through various stages. He always maintained that the “original Jews” were black people-or at least not European; however, he did not deny the existence or legitimacy of white Jews. In fact, as his services, synagogues, and attire show, he deferred to orthodox conventions on many matters. For example, he maintained separate setting for men and women, he used a standard siddur (prayer book) to conduct his services, worshippers wore tallitzim and kippot (prayer shawls and yarmulkes), they affixed mezuzot, wore tefillin, used standard texts in their Hebrew and rabbinic schools and read from a Sefer Torah.
Rabbi Matthew believed that although the “original Jews” were black people, white Jews had kept and preserved Judaism over the centuries. Since we, black Jews, were just “returning” to Judaism it was necessary for us to look to white Jews on certain matters–particularly on post-biblical and rabbinic holidays such as Hanukkah which could not be found in the Torah. However, it is important to note that Rabbi Matthew felt free to disagree on matters where he had a strong objection. He also recognized that since many customs, songs, and foods were of European origin, that he had the right to introduce some African, Caribbean, and American traditions into his community. Of course, his right to do this was often challenged, sometimes by Jews who were “Americanizing” Judaism themselves. Rabbi Matthew was constantly aware of apparent double standards within Judaism. After decades of trying to find common ground with white Jews by speaking at white synagogues around the county and at B’nai Brith lodges internationally, and after repeated attempts to join the New York Board of Rabbis, Rabbi Matthew concluded that black Jews would never be fully accepted by white Jews and certainly not if they insisted on maintaining a black identity and independent congregations. Since his death in 1973, there has been virtually no dialog between white and black Jews in America.
Brief Description of Other Communities
Other Israelite sects that exist within the United States but are not affiliated with the community founded by Rabbi Matthew are: The Church of God, founded by Prophet Cherry in Philadelphia; the Church of God, founded by Elder William S. Crowdy in Kansas in 1896; the Nation of Yahweh, a black nationalist group founded by Yahweh Ben Yahweh in Florida; the Kingdom of God, founded by Ben Ammi Carter in Chicago in the 1960s (this group is now in Israel); Rastafarians, who originated in Jamaica in 1935 (today this group is most known for creating Reggae music, but their religious beliefs have caused some to associate them with Judaism; the Nubian Islamic Hebrews, formerly located in Brooklyn, New York who have a blend of Islamic, Judaic, and black nationalist beliefs; and the Israeli School of Universal Practical Knowledge, also known as the Twelve Tribes, a paramilitary group located in Harlem [Ed: The Church 12 Tribes of Israel is not associated with the ICPUK in any way]. These groups differ widely on issues of religious practice, cultural dress, and political views. There is no umbrella organization that unites them, but most consider themselves to be Black Jews, Hebrews, or Israelites.