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STUDIES OF THE NAZARETH BAPTIST CHURCH IBANDLA LAMANAZARETH
THE STORY OF ISAIAH SHEMBE

TRANSLATED BY HANS-JÜRGEN BECKEN
EDITED BY IRVING HEXHAM AND G.C. OOSTHUIZEN

Copyright Hexham, Oosthuizen, Becken 1995

Published by the Edwin Mellen Press, Box 450, Lewiston, New York, USA, 14092-0450; Tel. 716-754-2266; Fax. 716-754-4056.
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1 The tradition of the Beginner of the Way of the Nazaretha movement, the Suffering Servant Isaiah Mdliwamafa Shembe

1.1 Although the year of his birth is not exactly known, it can be estimated, that he was approximately 66 years old, when he left this earth in 1935. He was born at Ntabamhlophe (Estcourt district) in the Drakensberg region (near Giants Castle) where his forefathers settled, when they escaped from the regiments of the Zulu KinShaka. Later, the family moved further on to Ntabazwe (Harrismith district) in the Sotho region of the Orange Free State, higher up in the Drakensberg mountains.

1.2 The Shembe family, however, was of pure Zulu breed and originated from Zululand. The father of the Prophet Shembe was Mayekisa, the son of Nhliziyo, the son of Mzazela, the son of Sokhabuzela, the son of Nyathikazi. They were from the Ntungwa tribe with the praise-name Nhlanzi (fish) from Donsa. The mother of the prophet was Sitheya, the daughter of Malindi Hadebe, and was born at Mtimkulu.

(Petros M. Dhlomo)

2 Johannes Galilee Shembe, the son of the founder-prophet, explained in a Sabbath service at Mikhaideni, how the forefathers came to Ntabamhlophe (11 May 1974)

1.1 Shembe's grandfather lived in Zululand, but, he had to escape from being killed. There came a man to him and confided to him, that the Zulu king wanted to kill him, and then he escaped and settled in the upper country. This was in very olden times, when Shembe and Senzangakhona did not yet live, and when the Whites had not yet arrived.

1.2 That old Shembe was a great diviner, who did not any evil thing; he only healed the people, even those of the royal family. He had a big homestead in the mountains of Babanango. Then some minions came to the king and said: "Lord, we hear that Shembe makes himself a king. When you think, that this is not true, send people to him, who should examine whether he is greeted like a king."

1.3 When the king heard these words, he sent spies to the homestead of Mzazela. When they came back, they reported: "Indeed, our king, it is the truth; you are now nothing anymore, for Shembe is greeted like a king." The king called the people and said: "What should I do now? for I have loved him very much, and I trusted him." They said: "He must be killed." He said: "I do not know what to do, for I loved him very much; but now he must be killed."

1.4 A man, who had heard these words, ran to Shembe and confided to him: "The Zulu king wants to kill you." Then he escaped. This escape was planned by God. So the grandfather of the prophet Shembe came from this place Mzazela. But, I know that my grandfather lived at Ntabazwe, where my father was born. In another year when Shembe was at Linda, he spoke about this place. By that time, about 30 years ago, there was a young man who knew this place. It is now in the farm area of the Whites. I have heard only recently about the matter of this place of Mzazela and found a man who knows it. He said that his White lived at the upper end of this place, and only Brown people were living on that side. But he could not say whether the White would be willing to sell it.

(Daniel Dube)

3 In the year 1926, the prophet told his followers in the village of Ekuphakameni, how God prepared the birth and the call of His Servant

1.1 "In olden times, when Zululand was still ruled by king Senzangakhona (+/- 1816 A.D.), God visited my forefathers who lived in their homes in the mountains of Babanango, serving King Senzangakhona. Mzazela, the father of Nhliziyo, was a very righteous man, who paid respect to all people as it was proper.

1.2 When he was sleeping in the night, the Word of Jehova came to him: "Mzazela, behold I shall raise a king of violent temper (Shaka) from the house of Jama (the father of Senzangakhona); he will rule the country with violent temper and will spill the blood of many people. I shall build on him my nation, that all Brown people be united in the Zulu kingdom. I advise you to flee together with your children to the upper country in the West, so that the rage of that king may not come down upon you. For from your progeny I shall raise prophets who will save my Brown nation and work with this nation, which I have established and chosen!"

1. 3 Mzazela did not waste time with doubts and many thoughts; he rather obeyed to the Word of Mvelinqangi, which spoke repeatedly to him. He gathered all his belongings and moved with his livestock to settle in the land of the West. He was not stiff-necked but obeyed the will of Mvelinqangi.

1.4 He settled at Ntabamhlophe in the Drakensberg region. There his son Nhliziyo got married, and his father paid the due dowry. Nhliziyo begot Mayekisa, who was his first-born son. Also Mayekisa grew up there at Ntabamhlophe. Mzazela named their home "Nontandabathakath." When Mayekisa came to the marriageable age, he had already a sweetheart whom he wished to marry. But his father Nhliziyo liked him to get married to a maiden of the Hadebe family by the name of Sitheya who was the daughter of chief Malindi Hadebe at Mthimkhulu, the councillor of the Hlubi chief Langalibalele.

1.5 On a certain evening, Nhliziyo called his son to inform him on the desire of his heart and said: "Mayekisa!" He responded: "Our father!" Nhliziyo continued: "I think in my heart that you are by now old enough to look for a young wife with whom you will beget children for me. Now, my son, my heart stands firmly on Sitheya, the daughter of Malindi at Mthimkhulu; I want you to get married to her."

1.6 His son replied: "I am unable to dispute with our father; your will be done, our father, and my will shall dwindle." Nhliziyo was happy to get this reply and said: "Thank you, my son. Tomorrow morning, I shall rise and wash face and hands. Then I shall take my sticks and go down to the river where the Hadebe family uses to draw water. There I shall pick up six nicely coloured stones and go up to the homestead of Hadebe."

1.7 Mayekisa accepted joyfully the words of his father, and they agreed on this plan. Mayekisa was a child who obeyed his parents, and all were happy over this respectful child and did not criticize him for anything at home; and everybody loved him.

1.8 On the next morning, Mhliziyo rose and did what he had said: He washed his face and hands, took his sticks and went down to the river where the Hadebe family used to draw water. The homes were not very far from each other; it was a short distance only. He arrived in the morning at the gate of the homestead and asked for permission to enter. After the usual greeting ceremony, Nhliziyo threw the stones to the ground before Hadebe.

1.9 Hadebe kept silent, looked at the stones and wondered what would happen. Nhliziyo said: "Receive your cattle, you man of Mthimkhulu!" Malindi asked: "Whom do you want?" Nhliziyo replied: "I want your daughter Sitheya." For a short while, Malindi looked silently at these stones. Then he called his daughter Sitheya. When Sitheya came, Hadebe pointed to the stones and said: "Sitheya, my daughter, will you accept this man? Here are my cattle which came with Nhliziyo, the son of Mzazela."

1.10 Sitheya answered by asking her father: "Our father, do you like these people?" He replied to his daughter: "Yes, my daughter, I like them." She said: "The will of our father be done to me." Then she said these words, her tears were flowing, because she remembered the promises which had been made to her since she had been a girl in her teens.

(Petros M. Dhlomo)

4 Sitheya the Mother of Shembe

1.1 Sitheya was a moraly good girl who did not sin, and there was no other girl who was so sincere like she was. She was preserved during her entire youth, because Jehova who is Mvelinqangi watched over her. This child showed great respect, and her parents loved her. All the people were happy about this maiden. She was a virgin of Jehova and did not commit any sin in the time of her youth. When she was later baptized, she was named Elizabeth. She was a very neat person who avoided shameful deeds and loved good ones. She walked in the light of Jenova during her childhood and her maidenhood.

1.2 When she grew older, she was tied up by Jehova. But she did not understand that God watched over her and why he did it. However, he had watched over his holy virgin. When she came to the marriageable age, she was once walking alone in the lonely paths of the Drakensberg mountains. There she heard a Voice telling her: "Sitheya, my daughter, don't pollute yourself by beer-drinking and premarital sexual intercourse, for you will give birth to the Servant of God!" his Voice sounded from the firmament, but she did not see the person who spoke so very clearly; she did not understand the meaning of this word, nor did she know from where it came.

1.3 On another day, this maiden worked together with many other girls in the wheat harvest of a White farmer, and every girl erected her own bundles. At lunchtime, they all went to the White farmer's home for their meal. While they were eating, a strong wind, a gale came up. When they returned to the field, all the bundles had fallen to the ground; only the bundle of Sitheya Hadebe had remained standing. Then all the other girls said to her: "Hau, daughter of Hadebe, you are lucky, because only your bundle remained standing in such a strong wind."

1.4 On this very day, Jehova had brought Shembe to this maiden of the Hadebe family; he came in the afternoon, placed Shembe on her head and said to her: "Sitheya, do not pollute yourself in your maidenhood and do not choose a lover, for you will give birth to the Servant of God!"

1.5 At another day, she went together with other maidens to gather firewood. When gathering the wood in the forest, they found a beautiful flower which surpassed all other flowers on earth, and all the maidens admired this flower. When they still admired its beauty, Sitheya picked this flower and put it into her mouth. Thereby the Holy Spirit went down into her womb.

1.6 Sitheya honoured God and her parents, and she never chose a lover. She ate this flower and swallowed it; and together with it, she swallowed already Shembe. By that time, all her age-mates had already chosen a lover; only she had not done so. This word, which had addressed her, had found a place in her heart. Even if she did not know from where it came and what it meant, she respected God and her parents and never chose a lover, because she was to be married to Mayekisa according to the will of her father Malindi.

1.7 The marriage negotiations for this maiden of the Hadebe family were concluded, the cattle for the dowry were completely paid, the marriage ceremonies were strictly observed according to Zulu custom, and it was a beautiful wedding in modesty and great dignity Sitheya became the first wife of Mayekisa. She was clean and without pollution, because Jehova had watched over her by his word.

1.8 When Sitheya got pregnant, the Holy Spirit moved out, and another child was born, who was not Shembe. However, all the children who were born before Shembe passed away, because Jehova intended, that Shembe should be the eldest son. When the time had come to give birth to Shembe and MaHadebe was already pregnant for six months, she began to see in her dreams people clad in white gowns, who came to her and said: "You will give birth to the lord who will save all the nations."

1.9 Her heart became painful; because when she related this dream to other people, they laughed at her, like the brothers of Joseph laughed at him when he related his dreams to them (Gen. 37:6-7). Until Shembe was born, this dream came repeatedly to her, and when she was about to deliver, the Voice came again to remind her that she was to give birth to the Servant of God.

1.10 Before the birth of Shembe, when the midwives had not yet come, Sitheya felt a hand taking hold of her loins. Hereafter, she had a quick delivery without complications and pains.

1.11 When the child was born, his father Mayekisa named his son Mdliwamafa-ezwe and Mloyiswa. But he became famous by the name given to him by his grandfather Nhliziyo who named him Shembe, which became at the same time his family name. When his mother heard that his grandfather named him Shembe, she pondered over it, and it became clear to her that now all what had been said to her from her childhood onwards had been fulfilled on the day of the birth of Shembe.

(Petros M. Dhlomo, Muntuwezizwe Buthelezi, and Khaya S. Ndelu)