An Afrikan Zion

I am listening to Huba Mnazaretha, Mbuso Khoza’s rendition of hymns originally composed by by the founder of the Baptist Nazareth Church’s founder, the Prophet Isaiah Shembe aka Umqali Wendlela.

The music is beautiful, the choral harmonic structure is not quite Western and not quite Eastern, it is Zulu-centric as it follows the slow and solemn way of the Zulu psalms or Amahubo.

In the previous post, titled To Zion or not to Zion – which was really a conversation about the music of AmaZayoni initiated by a friend of mines named Ndosi*. The contentious debate was about how the modern day state of Israel’s philosophy of Zionism is so unrelated to the peaceful and Spiritually uplifting sounds and mannerism of the Southern African AmaZion/Izayoni. Ndosi’s argument was that the Southern Afrikan Zionists must disassociate itself from the nefarious and notoriously violent history of the Israelite movement of the same name. Although he did not dwell on the various ways in which the latter is not a good neighbor to the Palestinians and how its very foundations were divisive, he did mention that the music of the Southern African Zionist makes them a sound example of harmony and what is good in humanity.

Of course there are many sides to a story, should one then generalize and condemn all Zionists as violent racists or should we try and look at the positive in everything? Who is to say, there must be some insidious story surrounding AmaZioni too and if its all about just the music or the outside appearance, surely we might like the sounds of the Jewish Zionists if we were ever exposed to it too.

The Bible and Christianity have a complex history in Afrika. Not all encounters with Europeans and other people of foreign lands were characterized by violence and malicious coercion. We can cite the introduction of Christianity to the and land of the Habesha or the Abyssinian – commonly known as Ethiopians, to the Sudan and even to Egypt. These peoples encountered the Gospels and the Old Testament in a far less violent aggressive way as compared to the Xhosa, the Khoi/San or the Central and Western Afrikans for example. In many cases, the Missionaries played a crucial role in reducing the amount of cruelty exacted upon the natives of Africa, but one can say that the violence they did not perform on the our bodies was actually performed on our minds and in the corruption and destruction of our Indigenous knowledge systems.

Let us not dwell too much on that subject as it deserves a much closer analysis in order to discern how far we have come in our relationship with the settlers. Suffice to say that we have learned to take the bitter with the sweet. Not only have we been able to create beautiful music and other art-forms by blending our Indigenous cultures with those of the colonists, we have enriched their lives as much as they may have enriched ours, one can say there has always been a cross-pollination of cultures and traditions. There is something to say about the Singularity.

Back to the the Zionism of Southern Afrika, where did it actually begin? According to Wikipedia:

“The Zionist churches of southern Africa were founded by Petrus Louis Le Roux, an Afrikaner faith healer.[2] He was a former member of the Dutch Reformed Churchwho joined John Alexander Dowie‘s Christian Catholic Church based in Zion, Illinois. In 1903 Dowie sent a Daniel Bryant to South Africa to work alongside Le Roux. In 1908 Daniel Nkonyane became the leader of the church. By the 1920s the church in Africa was entirely separated from its American version. In the mid-1980s the church in Zion, Illinois (now called Christ Community Church) began reestablishing a connection with the Zion movement in Southern Africa. The church works through an agency called Zion Evangelical Ministries of Africa or ZEMA. In South Africa, churches were established at Wakkerstroom and Charlestown on the TransvaalNatalborder.” 

Okay, but what does it have to do with us as Abantu and where lies our  disrupted communities and Indigenous Wisdom?



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