The Story of Isaiah Shembe: Volume One History and Traditions Centered on Ekuphakameni and Mount Nhlangankazi

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A new series on the Oral History of the Ibandla lama Nazaretha, the Nazareth Baptist Church of South Africa, the largest African Independent Church among the Zulu-speaking people of Southern Africa.


“This book has a highly exceptional structure: the 22 introductory pages provide the context of the project which led to the current and eight future volumes on the amaNazaretha. These are to include the texts of oral traditions and testimonies, hymns, catechisms, the rolf of women, beadwork, and the translation of an African scholar’s Zulu writing on Shembe. . . . based on the largest collection of oral testimonies so far recorded by an AIC, it presents a comprehensive account of the oral church history of the amaNazaretha. . . . The coordinator of the whole series (Hexham) has made the text reader-friendly by adding section, testimony, and paragraph numbers, which make identification of specific passages easy. . . . The main value of the book is twofold: for scholars it provides a most useful tool ‘for the dialogue now due,’, a penetrating dialogue on historiography, church history writing, theology, and especially mythology; for members of the amaNazaretha ‘history is given back to the people in their own words.’ The credibility of the publication is enhanced by the inclusion of both the insiders’ (the AIC) and the outsiders’ (Western scholars) perspectives. . . . This project on the amaNazaretha is a pioneering venture and will hopefully inspire researchers and pave the way for similar studies on other churches. A truly remarkable example has been set.” – International Journal of African Historical Studies

". . . this volume is truly a monumental feat. . . . it represents a very significant primary source for historical and theological research into this movement, the first of its kind. The primacy of the opinions of 'insiders' is increasingly being recognised by researchers of the AIC movement, and this is the strength of this unique publication, which presents the oral testimonies of church members to historical events within the framework of their own context. The stories include narratives concerning Shembe's birth, youth, marriages, baptism, early ministry, mission journeys, the purchase of Ekuphakameni, events concerning Nhlangakazi mountain, and the numerous recollections of miracles and healings associated with the ministry of Shembe and their accompanying conversions. The book concludes with parables told by Shembe and an account of his last days until his burial in May 1935." Dr. Allan Anderson, CESNERM

"An excellent collection of texts." - The International Journal of African Historical Studies

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