Tag Archives: Prophet Isiah Shembe
September 16, 2013

Joel E. Tishken – Isaiah Shembe’s Prophetic Uhlanga

shembeJoel E. Tishken has recently written a book about the Prophet Isaiah Shembe. This is what Joel had to say about the book:

The Worldview of the Nazareth Baptist Church in Colonial South Africa. My book’s central contribution to knowledge concerns a rethinking of how scholars view colonized communities. I challenge nationalist and postcolonialist discourses about colonized populations that have viewed empire and its consequences as the prime determinants of colonized individuals’ lives. Instead I argue that the worldview embraced by Shembe and his congregants was prophetically defined and reified. At the heart of the narrative Shembe and church members told of themselves was a sincere and faithful conviction that Shembe was God’s anointed prophet and his followers God’s new chosen people. Therefore, within their understanding of colonial South Africa, British imperialism and white supremacy were part of God’s cosmic vision to provide atonement and salvation for Africans – plans they believed God was prophetically communicating to Shembe. The historical narrative, theology, and identity of Shembe and his parishioners revolved around this prophetically prescribed explanation for the conditions of colonial Africa.

Full bibliographic information may be found at:

February 18, 2013

Ekuphakameni – Inanda Heritage Route Development


Literally translated as “the elated place” this well treed and dignified site was purchased in 1913 from the original White owners by one of his followers for the founding Prophet Isaiah Shembe. This served as the centre of the amaNazarene an eclectic and intriguing African religious movement giving rise to a range of historic buildings, spaces and pathways arranged in a typical Bantu manner around ‘Paradise’ an open air prayer space not unlike an isibaya. Men and Women are separated
It is proposed to focus the visitors experience onto the origins and beliefs of the AmaNazarene.

To enhance the religious ambience of the site
Define discrete and informative tour routes
To demonstrate an African religious response
Uphold the Prophets respect for flora and fauna
Develop the overall site further to accommodate contemporary demands

There are excellent examples of intangible heritage, and even intangible architecture at this site, notably the white painted rows of stones which represent ‘walls’, the star beacons, the cairn as well as oral accounts of events.
Archive the records properly and provide access for visitors and scholars.
Provide access to witness special rituals.
Accommodation on site for serious visitors.
There are plans afoot to make the large site more responsive to current urban demands by developing transitional/social housing accommodation and a high school.
The current barbed fencing on site is a result of tension between factions and will hopefully be resolved soon.

The current neglect of historic buildings needs to be reversed in a professional manner to the approval of Heritage Authorities. This creates a special challenge because the church themselves have recognised the limitations of traditional bio-degradable materials. For example the original four amaqhugwane forming the Musamo for the ancestors near the MR25 have been replaced by hexagonal masonry rondavels!
Visitor behaviour in regard to access to the site, dress codes and separation of genders is important.
Development of the vacant land must be done sensitively, and the character of the core religious site should be retained.


Ekuphakameni proposed development