Zimbabwe, April 23 Sapa-AFP
the hilly rural Makoni district, some 200 kilometres (120
miles) southeast of the capital Harare, lies a small synagogue
whose entrance is graced by a star of David painted in brown
against a white wall.
the church are some 500 Zimbabwean worshippers, colourfully
dressed in blue and brown neat uniforms with sashs, the
men wearing black yamulkas, or skull caps, the women wearing
maroon and purple crowns. All the worshippers bear rosettes
in seven colours.
have been celebrating the eight-day period of Passover -the
flight of the Jews from Egypt as recounted in the Bible.
consider themselves to be authentic Jews. Drawing striking
parallels between the historical conditions of biblical
Israel and common African cultures, the elders of the Church
of God Saints of Christ are convinced that they are lineal
descendants of Moses.
are typical of a house of Israel, our culture is typical
Israel our marriages, inheritance customs, even our
childbirth customs. We have never been gentiles, we are
the lost tribe of Israel," Rabbi Ambrose Makuwaza told
are authentic Israelites ... We crossed the Suez canal to
come to Africa. We are Hebrews, descendants of Abraham."
the church has been in existence in Zimbabwe since 1938
and claims a following of more than 5,000, it is little
Orthodox Jewish community here is aware of their existence
but say that since it has not been established whether or
not the Zimbabwean worshippers are Jews, they cannot claim
to be Jews, though they may have a Jewish inclination.
Harris, president of the Central African Jewish Board of
Deputies in Zimbabwe, says it would be difficult to trace
Judaic origin of these people.
are of possible Judaic knowledge, but not of Judaic origin,"
Rabbi Makuwaza is adamant that Zimbabweans, like all black
southern Africans of Bantu origin, are of Judaic parentage.
times to come the world will come to realise that there
are (black) Jews in Zimbabwe," he said, adding: "We
are Israelites, we have no doubts. ... If we are not Israelites,
as other people want to believe, how come we follow the
Israelites way of living?"
are even languages resemblances between the Zimbabwean native
languages and Hebrew, they say.
point to American scholars who in a book compiled in 1970s
said the similarities between African culture and pre-exile
Hebrews are too many and too close to be accidental.
*****Scholarly studies, they claim, show evidence that in
virtually any African country, remnants of an earlier Hebrew
civilisation can be found with traces of their ancestry
to the ancient kingdom of biblical Abraham.
historians say Bantus, Africans of southern Africa, came
from the north, but where exactly, they do pinpoint, argued
another elder, "We believe we came from Israel in the
also argue that there is biblical evidence that Abraham,
the original Isrealite, was of cushite or black African
descent, and that Moses, the founder of Judaism was born
of the Judaic practises followed by the Zimbabwean black
Jews include the strict observance of the Sabbath, observance
of the ten commandments, male circumcision and baptism by
immersion in flowing water as well as following the lunar
Rusape Jews believe Jesus was the Messiah of the time, and
that Jesus was like any other human being who is currently
buried in Jerusalem, not that he went to heaven as Christians
birth or death of Jesus has no religious value, only his
said elder Hosea Risinamhodzi.
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