How Jewish Ancestry Of The Lemba Of Zimbabwe And SA Makes Them Not Marry Other Inhabitants

A leader of the Lemba people. Credit: Jekesai Njikizana /AFP/Getty Images


The Lemba of Zimbabwe and South Africa are thought to be descended from Jewish men who migrated to Africa 2,500 years ago from Israel. Seven people embarked on that perilous journey from their birthplace. According to the World Jewish Council, their numbers grew from seven to 150,000 as they intermarried with residents of their settlements.

According to oral tradition, the Lemba tribe migrated to Africa via Yemen.

However, in accordance with customs and traditions, the Lemba are opposed to their children marrying outside their social circles.

They also adhere to Jewish traditions such as not eating pork or other unclean foods as prescribed by the Torah.

The Lemba tribe distinguishes itself from others in the region by observing a holy day during the week, wearing yarmulke-like caps, and placing a Star of David on the tombs. Despite being thousands of miles from Israel, the Lemba pray in Hebrew and Arabic.

The use of a historical relic of the biblical Ark known as dngoma lungindu, also known as the thundering drum, has heightened their belief in Jewish ancestry.

A recent exhibition of the ark at a museum in Harare, Zimbabwe, dispelled any doubts about the Lemba tribe’s ancestry.

The ark, according to oral history, dates back 700 years and was built with pieces of the original ark, according to the BBC. It is considered sacred because it is still included in the Ten Commandments.

The Lemba tribe’s Jewish roots were scientifically validated after DNA testing revealed they were descended from the Buba, one of the priestly clans, as well as the Jewish priestly line of Cohen.

Following DNA testing that revealed that more than half of all males in the Buba clan had Cohen genes, there is now a revival among the Lemba tribe.

They believe they migrated with the Torah, which they believe was lost during their exodus from Israel to Africa. Prior to scientific confirmation, the Lemba had always claimed to be descendants of the Israel tribe.

They followed Jewish customs and laws passed down from generation to generation and used this as proof of their origins.

The tribe’s goal is to learn Hebrew and Torah, as well as to build their own synagogue where they will worship according to ancient customs and traditions.

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