Talk:Lemba people

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Tidying up[edit]

This page should be tidied up to resemble articles on other groups like the Beta Israel or the Abayudaya. Granted this group has genetic links with most of the world's Jewery however they also have genetic relations to their African neighbours, thus are a distinct ethnic group and this page deserves to classify them as such. Why is the Judaism tag on the right hand side when this group is not considered to be religiously Jewish? Also what languages do they speak? I'd imagine something like Shona, Ndebele or Venda. Have any of them learned Hebrew? Also this article contains nothing about countries with present populations, or about the current status of the group. I know I have raised of issues but I think this article could benefit from this upgrade.

  • I agree to some extent. Some simularities (whether religious or genetic) do not perse point out a common historic ancestor or historic religious ties. Simularities can be found between many religions and genetic codes it does not mean they are linked in any way. Is there any historic (archeological) prove of a link between the Jews and the Lemba? If not, the whole thesis of Judaism and the Lemba should be dropped. - Dykstra, 11:17, 28 December 2006 (CET)
    • I disagree. How could genetic markers such as the Cohanim marker, not point out Historical ties? The fact that a people found in Sub-saharan Africa share a genetic marker that is most commonly found in non-Arab semites not indicate Historical ties? Also, how are the Abayudaya a distinct ethnic group from their neighbours? They aren't, they are simply Jews by choice. By Historical I think you mean an archeological link, and as of yet there is none as far as I'm aware. However I don't know how many settlements or villages they built have lasted very long anyway. Also the cultural ties plus the genetic marker cannot be ignored. Olockers 13:59, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

Judaism tag[edit]

I removed the Judaism tag on the right hand side, given that they Lemba aren't religiously or officially Jewish(yet) and thus it seems innapropriate to keep it. However it would be more appropriate to add a tag for an ethnic group, which is what the Lemba seem to be to me. Furthermore, there seems to be few hard statistics about the group. Olockers 13:50, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

How come that tag came back.Because from the edits going on it seems they are not Jewish (yet or ever in the future)So how is the tag justified and how is it a Jewish project more so than any other religion? --Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 16:30, 16 September 2011 (UTC)


I am wondering if this statement should be taken out.

In Vodun (Voodoo), Lemba is a loa worshipped in Brazil and Haiti.

This statement has nothing to do with the body of the article about the Lemba. Any thoughts?--EhavEliyahu 16:01, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

  • It is common for an article on one topic to mention any other topics that sharde the same name. However, this content can be moved to a disambiguation page. — Reinyday, 01:45, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
  • To some extent it is true that: "It is common for an article on one topic to mention any other topics that share the same name.". However there is no relation at all between Lemba in Zimbabwe and Lemba in Vodun (Voodoo). So I agree that the statement should be taken out. One cannot relate any lingual simularity; first of all this would suggest a relationship, secondly it does not add any information and thirdly it makes the article less synoptic. - Dykstra, 11:17, 28 December 2006 (CET)

exact number[edit]

Maybe a figure should be given as to the exact number of Lemba. Also whether or not many converted to Christianity following the arrivial of Baptist Missionaries in the 19th Century.


What country is their synagogue in? — Reinyday, 00:42, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

Must Lemba convert when they enter Israel?[edit]

Curious to this, as ethiopian jews had to. 18:47, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes, the Lemba would have to convert for several reasons
1) The Lemba were not initially practicing a recognizable form of Judaism. I.e. unlike the Ethiopian Jews they did not have the Bible in a Semitc language.
2) Unlike the Ethiopian Jews, many of the active members of the Lemba did not have a history of practicing Judaism. This does not mean that they do not have Israelite heritage, it simply means they were not living as a Jewish or Israelite community completely governed by the Torah. Essentially, as they state about themselves MOST of the Torah they were not able to keep for a number of reasons.
4) The rulings about the Ethiopian Jewish community came after review of Rabbis who came accross them going back to the 1400's. These Rabbis stated that the Ethiopian Jews were Jews, lived by Torah, but they had been disconnected from the sages who knew the Oral Torah. Thus in some areas they had a similar Orah Torah to other Jewish communities, but in other areas they did not.
3) The time lapse of their practice as a Torah based community is to far and between.
Essentially, the Ethiopian Jews and the Lemba can't be compared because their situations are vastly different. The Lemba leaders have acknowledged that it would be logical for them to convert. Because they recognize that their ancestors fell off the path hundreds of years ago. The DNA testing confirmed who their ancestors were, but it does not give them an indentity that they were lost from. I hope that helps.--EhavEliyahu 03:48, 10 November 2006 (UTC)
It may be useful to keep in mind here, regarding the initial inquiry, that while Jewishness is not specifically a religious affiliation, as an ethnic identity it cannot survive long without Judaism. It is only the Nazis who believe/d there to be an identifiable genetic component to Jewish identity. Tomertalk 04:54, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

intresting point, so why would they have to convert? who is a Jew clearly accomodates them.--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ 10:16, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

Not in any way I can see... Tomertalk 23:24, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

Jews (Hebrew: יְהוּדִים, Yehudim; Yiddish: ייִדן, Yidn)[3] are members of the Jewish people, an ethnic group originating in the Israelites of the ancient Middle East. Does this def not fit them? genetically related to the house of Israel--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ 23:55, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

It says "originating in", not "comprising all the descendants of". According to the interpretation that all descendants of the ancient Israelites are Jews, Jews today would comprise several hundred million people. Quite simply, that is not the case. The Lemba may share common ancestry, but they are long-separated from those Israelites who are known today as Jews, culturally and religiously. For the past several thousand years, there has been a way for non-Jews to become Jewish, and for those whose Jewishness is in doubt, this process is little different. (Really, I think the only difference is that someone who is pretty sure they're already Jewish but wants to remove all doubt, does not require being discouraged three times (since discouraging someone who is Jewish from keeping Torah is a greater chillul Hashem)...) Tomertalk 00:05, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
I understand the above, and it makes sense. can someone then stop being Jewish by virtue of neglect. But I guess not since they were born into a community regardless of if they embrace it or not. unfair if they dont want it.--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ 00:11, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
A person could theoretically stop being Jewish by neglect, but in practice, they're still regarded as Jewish according to halakhah. What occurs more commonly is that their grandchildren will be only vaguely aware that their grandparents were Jewish, and their great-grandchildren will have no idea at all. Tomertalk 00:30, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

The main reason that the Lemba, and other like them would not be considered legally Jewish is because of the following reasons. (This would only apply if the Lemba desire to rejoin the Jewish fold.)

1) If the Lemba descended from Yemenite Jews who made their way to East Africa, and said Yemenite Jews assimilated or stop practicing Judaism according to Yemenite Jewish custom.
2) If said Yemenite Jews mixed in with the local East African populations without a conversion process for the non-Jews to become legally Jewish.
3) If said Yemenite Jews lost contact with fellow Jews in Yemen, North Africa, and the Middle East. (This in itself would most likely cause them to assimilate more readily.)

If all of these events take place, as they are claimed to have happened in the case of the Lemba several hundred years ago, it means is the following.

1) The Lemba have not practiced Judaism as a whole, which in term caused their culture to no longer be Jewish. This would have affected their marriages, divorces, and Biblical requirements that keep someone within the Jewish fold.
2) The Lemba no longer have a community who has had contact with them until present times. This means that a conversion would be necessary in order for them to be rejoined to the Jewish populations who never assimilated.
3) If a number of the Lemba have Kohan ancestry, the purity of that ancestry is now invariable by either records or witnesses. Kohanim in ancient Israel were to have clear ancestry either through documentation or witnesses.

Other Jewish communities maintined the following things that kept them legally Jewish.

1) In the lands where they were dispersed they were able to maintain the Torah in Hebrew.
2) They were able to maintain a dominate historically connected Jewish structure.
3) They were able to maintain contact with nearby Jewish centers of high scholastic learning. I.e. The Land of Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran, etc.
4) If they did convert to other religions (due to duress) they were still known by a nearby Jewish community. Many of these cases they would still marry only within the Jewish community. I.e. (other Jews who had been forced to convert) When the duress was over they returned to Judaism, and maintained their own community.--EhavEliyahu 15:46, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

Lemba Jewish Heritage[edit]

This section really needs a clean up by those with the knowledge. Particularly sentences like "One of them wants to start a Kibbutz".

History, religion and genetics[edit]

The Lemba case has raised some very interesting issues, e.g. about the use of history and genetics to support (or question) claims to religious affiliation, and this article should be developed to reflect this. As a quick google will show, this case is being debated by specialists in different fields. This is not reflected in the article as currently written. It is also thin on the basic ethnographic etc. background to the Lemba. I can see a number of relevant papers in the older academic literature (before the recent genetic research), including analysis of attempts to "reconvert" Lemba in Zimbabwe to Islam! Zahir Mgeni 20:41, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

To above author: Regardless of your own personal beliefs and prejudices, the Lemba are accepted as Jewish among the Sephardic populations of Israel. Further, "older research" NEVER takes precedence over newer, more recent and more accurate research...where did you go to school?! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:11, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

"related groups" info removed from infobox[edit]

For dedicated editors of this page: The "Related Groups" info was removed from all {{Infobox Ethnic group}} infoboxes. Comments may be left on the Ethnic groups talk page. Ling.Nut 23:22, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

Foolish criticism[edit]

Why is there no mention of Rabbinic scholarly views on this subject? Most rabbinic scholars would consider the scholars quoted in this article to be complete idiots as the Rabbi Ishmael in the mishnah is recorded to say the people of Israel (wording used specificity refers to all of Israel and not just Judah) are not white or black but rather like an olive. He isn't the only source for this. But this is something they learned at 10 years of age. If the Lemba are indeed Jewish their claim of superiority is no greater than white Jews. The claim of white Jews is greater because we know why they are white (intermarriage with the Khazars and other converts). Likewise we know why the Ethiopian Beta Israel are black.

I am rather new to this subject but when do they claim to of left Sena ("Yemen")? 21:23, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

The wikipedia languages this article can be found show the madness and delusion of this article. 21:32, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
I have never heard of any Lemba claiming themselves being superior to anyone. All of the books, articles, videos about them show that they recognize that they are not legally Jewish, only ethnically at this point. They recognize that their ancestors walked away from the Torah based path a long time ago. Their main thing has been to trying to reconnect with their ancestral past and then decide what that means for their future.
As far as the time that it is thought of when their ancestors left Yemen. The Lemba didn't know. Their oral legends simply told them who some of their ancestors were and the name of the place they came from. They didn't know where that place was. It was through their contact with Professor Tudar Parfit that he was able to piece together where their ancestors came from. This was done by him traveling to the places based on the Lemba oral legend, and other sources as well as DNA testing done on the Lemba, known Jews, and Yemenite Arabs.
On another note it is known fact that the Lemba's ancestors mixed with Bantu women over hundreds of years. That is why some of them don't look that much different from other Bantus. Rabbinic scholars don't have a problem with the existance of the Lemba. The Lemba would essentially be what is called Benei Anusim.
I think it is easy to see that this article has not been fully written. Also, there is not a lot of information outside of the research that links their ancestors to anciently being Jewish mixed with Bantu.--EhavEliyahu (talk) 23:45, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Quest for the Lost Ark[edit]

Airing on the History Channel, did genetic testing on the Lemba, and PROVED that they ARE the lost tribe. It should be mentioned. Crash Underride 01:47, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

Don't get me wrong, I like the History Channel and I saw that documentary, but I think one needs to be a little more cautious of wholesale acceptance. The testing only proves that some of the Lemba share a gene that was common among the old Jewish priestly class, which provides a piece of evidence for their claim. However, I am not sure it is prudent to out and out "prove" the theory, basely solely on this fact. Vincent Valentine||talk to me! 12:20, 23 March 2008 (UTC)
I saw the same special, and though I do generally like the History Channel, the man on that specific special seemed more a theorist than a historian or archaeologist. Through the whole special he continued to deny commonly accepted beliefs because it didn't fit in with what he speculated. I would also like to point out that the same special noted that the Lemba were more commonly Christian (at least now) and so the fact that they have Jewish practices could easily be explained through that. A lot of the practices are also easily explained as common among several religions. Not eating pork, for instance, is a tradition of Muslims as well as old Christianity, and the reason for the tradition in the first place was simply because (as everyone knows) eating undercooked pork can be dangerous.SarimUriel (talk) 15:11, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

You write, "the reason for the tradition in the first place was simply because (as everyone knows) eating undercooked pork can be dangerous" -- I don't know if what "everyone knows" is that eating undercooked pork is dangerous, or that this is the -- THE -- reason for the prohibition on pork. But I have to disagree that health reasons are the basis for this rule of kashrut, or at least that there is agreement on the point. In fact, Wikipedia's article on Kashrut states, "The claim that the laws have a hygiene/health purpose has ... fallen out of favour among Biblical scholars ..." Of course, the first line of explanation is that the prohibition appears in the Torah. But for those who do not believe in literal divine authorship of the Torah, of course, that is just the beginning of the inquiry; if the prohibition was created by humans, what was THEIR reason for it? I have heard many theories for the basis, including health reasons, but not limited to them. I am inclined to doubt that that was the reason, in fact. I am aware of no evidence (although I have often heard the "everyone knows" assumption) that health concerns were "simply" the reason for the prohibition on pork. Furthermore, why just pork, not beef and certainly chicken? Why not all undercooked meat? Other health concerns that were presumably known in the ancient world, such as eating spoiled or poisonous foods, don't make it into the kashrut code, while things that have nothing to do with health concerns do. I think this is one of those things that "everyone knows" that ... well ... we don't, really. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:05, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

There was another Lemba documentary that aired today as part of the Myth Hunters series, shown on the American Heroes channel. A significant point to me is that they determined 7 Lemba ancestors had come from Yemen in Medieval times. There was no real indication that the Yemenites had ancestry in Palestine or that there were more than 7 of them. Imagine how many Bantu ancestors there have been in 600 years, and the number is staggering, at least several hundred thousand but depending on how many distant cousins intermarried. So I believe it would be reasonable to call the Judaism of the Lemba no more than a cultural influence. Ramseyman (talk) 15:23, 26 June 2016 (UTC)

CMH does not necessarily imply Jewish[edit]

I am restoring the previous text (eg as of 16 April 2008),

More microsatellite markers would need to be tested in order to verify the reality (or not) of any such link

rather than the current

The fact that the Cohen modal haplotype is found with low frequency in other Semitic groups supports the Lemba claims of a paternal Judaic ancestry.

Since 34.2% of men in the Yemen have at least a 5/6 match for the 6-marker CMH [1], but turn out when you look at more Y-STR markers to not in fact be closely related to CMH Ashkenazi Jews, it cannot be safely determined on the basis of only six markers whether the Lemba are more likely to have acquired their "semitic" Y-chromosomes from Jews or from Yemenis. Jheald (talk) 12:52, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

Exactly! Why does this article not mention the possibilty that the presence of certain genetic markers common to people in the middle east may be the result of intermixing between arab slave traders and elements of local populations? Since Arab slavers are historically documented along the whole of the east coast of Africa it seems far more likely an origin for these markers than some mythological Jewish connection - which seems far more likley to be the result of an invented genealogy to 'elevate' the position of the Lemba people when confronted with white Europeans. By saying they were of Jewish origin rather than the result of mixing between Arab slavers and locals would obviously improve their standing. Since the first Christians arrived in southern Africa around 1600 there has been plenty of time for the Lemba to scoure the bible for 'traditions'. I wouldn't be surprised if at some future date archeological research finds the remains of an Arab slave trading centre in the middle of Lemba territory.

Furthermore, it is very interesting that the genetic research involves only Y chromosomes (passed on by men only - for instance a male Arab slave trader) and not mitochondrial DNA passed on only by women. I'll bet that if mDNA markers common in Jews are sought for in the Lemba, their presence will conspicuous in its absence! 1812ahill (talk) 13:50, 20 November 2009 (UTC)

A Wikipedia article is not the place to propose new hypotheses, so the article wouldn't mention any such theory unless it were already a notable theory published in citable works. Is it? (Besides that, if the genetic markers came from Arab slavers, then why, in southeastern Africa, would they be a peculiarity of the Lemba rather than a phenomenon found regularly throughout the entire extent of early Arab trade in Africa?) —Largo Plazo (talk) 14:42, 20 November 2009 (UTC)
We could only use it by referencing it from reliable sources. And speaking of which, what makes the Kulana sources reliable? Dougweller (talk) 15:06, 20 November 2009 (UTC)
Well, since you mention it, this is not a new hyposesis on my part. I recall reading an article on the prevelance of Semitic genes in various South African peoples. I don't remember where, but I'll see what I can find out. :) 1812ahill (talk) 16:55, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
The problem is, the article will have to mention the Lemba. Hopefully someone has, otherwise, we have a problem. Dougweller (talk) 18:14, 22 November 2009 (UTC)

This may be of interest? - if only for the references? >> ... DLMcN >>

A possible Semitic origin [for the Ancient Zimbabwean Civilisation][edit]

Another tribe which claims responsibility for Great Zimbabwe is the Lemba - a possibility which has been supported in varying degrees by several writers [41][42][43][44][45]. Thus, Gayre suggests that the Shona artefacts which were found in the various ruins, were placed there only after they conquered the country and drove out or absorbed the previous inhabitants [46]; the ones who remained would have passed some of their skills and knowledge to the invaders. To advance their argument, Dr Gayre and Professor Murdock both report that in the early 20th century, neighbouring tribes regarded the South African Lemba as exceptionally skilled metal workers [41][43][47][48][49]; Gayre also mentions that those Lemba had a particular aptitude for mining, smelting and building in stone [46].

Maintaining that those Lemba had originally fled southwards from the Masvingo area, Gayre emphasised that their female ancestry must have contained a large MaKaranga element, judging by the fact that the old Lemba language was a dialect of Karanga [46][47][50].

Recent DNA tests reveal that many Lemba possess marked Semitic features in their Y-chromosomes – i.e., passed through their male ancestral line [51][32]. Particularly startling is the fact that their priests still carry the Cohen Modal Haplotype [52].

Gayre describes the Lemba oral tradition that their male forebears came by boat (from a country to the north which boasted large cities) to obtain gold [46][47][48][50].

Other Lemba Semitic characteristics highlighted by Gayre or Murdock are – first, their dietary laws and customs, which have a lot in common with the Mosaic code [41][43][46][47][48][49][53] – second, the fact that many members of that community have Semitic-sounding names [46][47][50] – and finally, a reputation as the masters and originators of the art of circumcision which the Lemba enjoyed among surrounding tribes [46][48][47][49].

Thus, the discovery of models of male circumcised organs in some of the ancient ruins, is interpreted by Gayre as evidence of a direct link between the Lemba and Ancient Zimbabwe [46]. In addition, Gayre, Layland, Hall and Murdock all regard it as significant that the Lemba buried their dead in an extended rather than a crouched position – i.e., in the same style as in certain Zimbabwean graves, where gold jewellery confirmed their association with the ancient civilization [46][44][43][54].


41. Gayre, R. - 'The Lembas and Vendas of Vendaland'; The Mankind Quarterly vol. VIII (Edinburgh, 1967), pp. 3-15.

42. Gayre, R. - 'Some further notes on the Lembas'; The Mankind Quarterly vol. XI (1970), pp. 58-60.

43. Murdock, G.P. – 'Africa: its peoples and their culture history'; McGraw Hill, New York, 1959; see pp. 387 and 204 et seq.

44. Hall, R.N. & Neal, W.G. - 'The ancient ruins of Rhodesia'; Methuen, London, 1902; see pp. 95, 101-106, 126.

45. R. Wessman - 'The BaWenda of the Spelonken'; The African World, London, 1908; see pp. 129-132.

46. Gayre, R. - 'The origin of the Zimbabwean civilization'; Galaxie Press, Zimbabwe, 1972.

47. Hammond Tooke, W.D. - 'The Bantu-speaking peoples of southern Africa'; Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1974 (originally 1937); see pp. 81-84 and 115-116. [Contribution by N.J. van Warmelo]. Similar material appears in Schapera, I. - 'The Bantu-speaking tribes of southern Africa'; Routledge and Sons, London, 1937, and Maskew Miller, Capetown, 1966, see pp. 65-66, 153, 257, 276.

48. Junod, H.A. - 'The life of a South African tribe', vol. I: - 'Social life'; MacMillan, London, 1927; see pp.72-73, 94.

49. Jaques, A.A. - 'Notes on the Lemba Tribe of the Northern Transvaal'; Anthropos vol. XXVI (1931), pp. 245-251; see pp. 247, 249.

50. van Warmelo, N.J. - 'Zur Sprache und Herkunft der Lemba'; Hamburger Beiträge zur Afrika-Kunde Bd. 5 (1966), pp. 273-283; Deutsches Institut für Afrika-Forschung; see pp. 273, 279, 281-282.

51. Parfitt, T. - 'Journey to the vanished city'; St. Martin's Press, New York, 1992 (also published by Phoenix). Discussed in a long article on p.22 of The Times (UK) on 10th March 1999.

52. Thomas, M.G., Parfitt, T. et al. - 'Y Chromosomes Traveling South: The Cohen Modal Haplotype and the Origins of the Lemba - the "Black Jews of Southern Africa"; Amer. J. Human Genetics vol. 66 (2000), pp. 674-686.

53. van Warmelo, N.J. - 'The copper miners of Musina and the early history of the Zoutpansberg'; Ethnological Publications no. VIII (1940), Dept. of Native Affairs, South Africa; see pp. 52-53, 63-67.

54. Layland, E. – Appendix I of 'The origin of the Zimbabwean civilization'; Galaxie Press, Zimbabwe, 1972; see p.230.

However, a ‘cyber-war’ then broke out whereby my contribution was deleted, then restored by Wikipedia, then deleted again by the same disruptive individual … That happened three times!

So Wikipedia decided to compromise by modifying and toning down my above text. is an attempt to summarise the evidence. (talk) 10:47, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Gayre and other racists[edit]

If we are going to mention Gayre, and perhaps we should, it should be in a section on racist perspectives. It is not NPOV to ignore Gayre's racism, he's the guy who "In his evidence to the court ...described blacks as being "feckless" and he maintained that scientific evidence showed that blacks "prefer their leisure to the dynamism which the white and yellow races show." Zimbabwe before 1900 By D. N. Beach has a line "A long line of racist works trying to prove otherwise [that is, that GZ wasn't built by blacks], culminating in R Gayre's 'The Origin of the Zimbabwean Civilization'. Garlake doesn't just dismiss Gayre, he used the phrase 'worthless polemic'. In any case, Gayre seems to have credited GZ's original builders as being from the Mediterranean area and Arabia.

Maybe we should quote Parfitt "It is worth noting tnat in relatively recent times white racists found this tradition appealing: the Scottish laird Gayre of Gayre and Nigg was the editor of a racist journal called Mankind Quarterly. In 1967 he wrote a short article in which he stressed the connection of the Lemba with the Great Zimbabwe and in 1972 wrote a book, published in Rhodesia and believed by some to have been commissioned by the Rhodesian Government which claimed that the Lemba had been involved in the Great Zimbabwe construction. He further argued that the Lemba had Jewish cultural and genetic traits and that their 'Armenoid' genes must have been acquired from Judaized Sabeans who, he maintained, had serried in the area thousands of years ago. The book's clear objective was to show that black people had never been capable of of building in stone or of governing themselves. There is nor the slightest evidence that 'Sabeans' or any other Middle Eastern people settled in the area thousands of years ago - and there is every evidence that Great Zimbabwe was built something less than a thousand years ago." Dougweller (talk) 14:27, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Halakhic status as Jews[edit]

As it stands this is not just unsourced, it's original research. We need sources relating this to the Lemba. Dougweller (talk) 13:09, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

Right of return[edit]

Is there a reliable source for the suggestion that Israel has given the Lemba the right of return? Thanks. Dougweller (talk) 20:20, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

A possible source for "Status as Jews" section[edit]

Gideon Shimoni, apparently the senior lecturer in the Hebrew University's Institute of Contemporary Jewry and "incumbent of the Shlomo Argov Chair in Israel-Diaspora Relations", has covered the Lembas' status as Jews in his book Community and conscience: the Jews in apartheid South Africa. He talks about the Lemba pages 178-180. You can read this at google books. This may help fix up sourcing problems in that section. Factsontheground (talk) 01:09, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Justification for mentioning Gayre[edit]

It is incorrect of DougWeller to imply that >Because Gayre was a racialist – it follows that his line of reasoning proposing a Semitic origin for Great Zimbabwe, is untenable.< That^ italicised piece between the arrows > < is a non sequitur; it is flawed logic. Admittedly, we have perhaps not been putting it quite as bluntly and directly as that – but it is always better to avoid ad hominem remarks and criticisms.

Here, it is relevant to focus once again on the fact that many of the key points made by Gayre are supported by observations recorded – long before he wrote his book – by van Warmelo, Junod, and others: i.e., by scholars who were not discussing the origins of Great Zimbabwe. This provides a much fairer judgment than Garlake’s description of the work as “worthless polemic”. Thus, I am inclined to doubt whether Garlake ever read and studied Gayre’s text properly.

Certainly, I am not maintaining that Gayre’s thesis has been demonstrated conclusively. He does, however, raise questions which are worth looking at. DLMcN (talk) 09:44, 23 March 2010 (UTC)

I hadn't bothered to reply, but as I'm editing here I will now. DLMcN is putting words into my mouth that I didn't say. Dougweller (talk) 09:17, 20 June 2010 (UTC)

Judaism infobox[edit]

I see this hasn't been discussed before. I don't think it's appropriate in this article. Even if they have some Semitic ancestry, that doesn't make them Jewish, and the other evidence is no more conclusive. Dougweller (talk) 09:17, 20 June 2010 (UTC)

Dough I must disagree. They belong to the Jewish world and via the mechanisms of self-determination see themselves as members of that world. That alone means they should be included. The exclusion of their entry into that world is subject of what someone called RAcism, (i hold my tongue). Who is a Jew, as most people know is one big debate. So I dont know how with such a broad definition you can rule people out. It is almost as if like a Saudi Muslim saying Nigerian Muslims are not Muslims, or Nation of Islam is not part of the Islamic world. because Saudis have put a copyright on a definition. Lemba have far more than "Semitic" ancestry, they also have some of the rituals of the faith, more than many non-religious Jews who get right of return. --Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 07:21, 13 December 2010 (UTC)


So in what countries exactly are these 70,000 Lemba in? Bezuidenhout (talk) 16:51, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

Primarily Zimbabwe and South Africa, some also in Mozambique and Malawi. I think the article is more clear now.Parkwells (talk) 13:04, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

Semitic DNA[edit]

DougWeller - I noticed your reversion of 9th July. The earlier edit of that date was not actually mine, but Spurdle and Jenkins may offer enough evidence to qualify as "significant"? - see ... What is your particular threshold, to justify using the word "significant"?

In their Abstract, Spurdle and Jenkins state: The results suggest that > or = 50% of the Lemba Y chromosomes are Semitic in origin, approximately 40% are Negroid, and the ancestry of the remainder cannot be resolved. [Am. J. Hum. Genet. 1996 Nov;59(5):1126-33...The origins of the Lemba "Black Jews" of southern Africa: evidence from p12F2 and other Y-chromosome markers].--DLMcN (talk) 06:28, 20 July 2011 (UTC)--DLMcN (talk) 06:39, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

My threshold is that the source must use the word. In this case the relevant sentence was ". Recent genetic analyses have established a possible Middle-Eastern, Semitic origin for a significant portion of the Lemba population.[1]" and the word 'source' had been added by an IP and I reverted that addition. If it's in that source, then it can be restored. And note that your abstract is talking about a slightly different subject, the actual sentence is question is not about the proportion of chromosomes but about the Lemba population. Dougweller (talk) 13:45, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks ... the subject is of course further discussed - and clarified - lower down. Looking critically at the semantics - as you well know none of the Lemba can claim to be [100%] of "Semitic origin". So - in that particular sentence - maybe we should replace the word "possible" by "partial", retain the word "significant", and also add the Spurdel and Jenkins reference at that point? - (that article is in fact already cited - at number 17).--DLMcN (talk) 19:59, 20 July 2011 (UTC)

Repeated edits by[edit]

So it seems user: is back to his/her nonsense. Why has this not been summarily deleted or reverted? The user has a substantial history of borderline vandalism of Jewish or purportedly-Jewish articles. Someone with more authority please get rid of this - I got some weird error when I tried to revert the article. Myrkkyhammas (talk) 13:53, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

Sorry, missed that. You couldn't revert because it had been changed in the meantime, I went to the earlier version and copied it into the current one, still needs a bit of work. I made some other changes. I discovered that one of the references for Judaic links actually concluded that they were Arab so rewrote that. Dougweller (talk) 15:37, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Doug, are you forgetting You can be 100% Arab and 100% Jewish at the same time Yemani Jews have identical dna to other Arab populations.. It is like saying African or Islamic roots. Jewish is not an ethnic group in this case.--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 16:35, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
What are you suggesting? Tooke thinks the Lemba are Arabs from the East Coast of Africa. I made that clear. It has nothing to do with DNA, there is no DNA evidence that they are actually Jewish so far as I know. Before, it looked as though Tooke was arguing that they were Jewish. Dougweller (talk) 17:14, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
The real problem is who is a Jew and is there Jewish DNA (I dont think so) Jews come in all races from all over the world. And that is why i do not know what to say beyond my little note. In any event if it is not clear, should this project then have a Jewish side bar?--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 06:08, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
I've raised the issue at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Jewish history#Lemba people. Dougweller (talk) 06:37, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

Just so that it's clear: Yemenite Jews are not genetically identical to their Arab neighbors. Also, there are definitely distinctly Jewish(ish) modal haplotypes that happen to occur in other populations (via historical intermarriage). Myrkkyhammas (talk) 21:20, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Tudor Parfitt identified the Cohen Modal Haplotype in a number of Lemba - surely we could regard that as "Jewish DNA"? --DLMcN (talk) 08:21, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

I agree if the DNA fits then let the hat fall where it may. So Do Ethiopian Jews (who are Jews) have different DNA to other Ethiopians? (not sure they do). But even Jewish DNA does it justify the issue raised of a Jewish Sidebar?--Halqh حَلَقَة הלכהሐላቃህ (talk) 09:17, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
This book by Parfitt is interesting.[2] "If one takes a hard view of the data produced above it is clear that the Lemba indeed did substantially originate - at least via the male line - outside Africa. The presence of a haplotype which is so overwhelmingly associated with the Jewish priesthood is to say the least intriguing. However in itself this evidence hardly justifies the conclusion proclaimed with such enthusiasm in for instance Science et Vie ('August 1999, and August 2000) that the Lemba are indeed Jews." Dougweller (talk) 12:10, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Lomba is the Portuguese word for hill — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:52, 29 May 2012 (UTC)

Maybe people have to accept they are in more than one category (and that is how many want to be known)- of partial Jewish descent and practice, as they say, but also likely Arabian Muslim descent (and some customs), and, obviously, African. All those generations of African women should not be discounted for their contributions, because some domineering men wanted them to practice food rituals their way. You know there had to be give and take - individuals and peoples are always influenced by those they interact with - look at all the work on slave resistance. Halakhically, the Lemba are not Jewish, as they are not descended matrilineally from Jews. They would have to undergo formal conversion to Orthodox Judaism to be accepted as Jews and citizens in Israel, for instance.Parkwells (talk) 13:14, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

Tudor Parfitt article[edit]

This article reads, to me, like an article on "Venus came from Jupiter" would, with Tudor Parfitt playing the role of Immanuel Velikovsky. His name appears a lot - almost each time in full, with his job, and linked to his Wiki article. On the other hand when Tooke is mentioned - who disagrees with Parfitt - his name is never linked. The statement "By contrast, the lead anthropologist in Zimbabwe firmly places them among African peoples, ignoring the DNA evidence," which sounds important, is supported by a reference to something by Parfitt, which explains the POV "ignoring the DNA evidence". The section on the "Sacred Ngoma" really does sound like an episode of The History Channel, or perhaps The Discovery Channel. The problem with this for me is that it makes it difficult to tell if Parfitt's theories are reasonable and maybe ground-breaking, or idiosyncratic. Let's hear from "the lead anthropologist in Zimbabwe" himself or herself. --Richardson mcphillips (talk) 14:43, 31 May 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Genetics for ethnic groups RfC[edit]

For editors interested, there's an RfC currently being held: Should sections on genetics be removed from pages on ethnic groups?. As this will almost certainly result in the removal of the "DNA testing" section from this article, I'd encourage any contributors to voice their opinions there. --Katangais (talk) 20:04, 30 April 2016 (UTC)

Pygmalion Syndrome/Rosenthal Effect or TV holiday?[edit]

Regarding the Parfitt reference at the end of the lede (Tudor Parfitt'[sic] Remarkable Quest, in which he tries to prove that the Lemba are one of the ten lost tribes of Israel):

Why are we accepting TV documentaries seeking to prove biblical stories as fact to sell a product as a reliable source? Encyclopedias are not considered reliable sources, so why is Parfitt on PBS TV considered reliable? Who paid for the emeritus professor's jaunt around the world? Why did he not consider more thoroughly arguments against his hypothesis?

As is stands, this article could do with a criticism section. A few obvious ones (basic anthropology) spring to mind (WP:NOR on my part noted).

1: In light of biblical dating, are there any other cultures in the world that have managed to maintain an oral tradition for 2500 years?

2: Why (as pointed out in the article) is the Lemba Abrahamic tradition almost exclusively Arabic in its use of language?

3: Why would a 'lost tribe' consisting of 7 proselytising men and no women only stop after sailing 7000 miles from their point of origin and then travel many miles inland?

4: The Lemba speak a Bantu language. The Bantu people/culture only appeared in southern Africa well after the beginning of the CE. Before that the area was inhabited by the ancestors of the current Khoi-San linguistic/ethnic group. Are we to believe that the precursor population gave up their language and culture, intermarried with the more technologically advanced Bantu, yet somehow managed to convert a tiny time displaced group of Bantu conquerors to their own religion and then survive as an isolate for 2500 years?

I suggest removing the current TV show references to Parfitt or at least adding Template:Refimprove. Anyone object?1812ahill (talk) 23:27, 13 February 2017 (UTC)

@1812ahill: As you say, NOR. I tend to agree but as I think you know we'd need sources discussing the Lemba. I agree Parfitt is over represented, and I think that a lot of the editing here is by editors pushing Parfitt. What concerns me more is the DNA material, which needs revision. Starting a new section. Doug Weller talk 12:14, 14 February 2017 (UTC)

DNA section out of date/POV[edit]

I think that the sentence "Both Arabs and Jews share this DNA, but the Cohen Modal Haplotype, an indicator of Jewish ancestry, has been found among the males of one leadership clan at rates even higher than in the general Jewish population." sourced to a comment made 16 years ago by Parfitt, misrepresents the current thinking.

For instance, "Mitochondrial and Y chromosome haplotype motifs as diagnostic markers of Jewish ancestry: a reconsideration"[3] "In conclusion, while the observed distribution of sub-clades of haplotypes at mitochondrial and Y chromosome non-recombinant genomes might be compatible with founder events in recent times at the origin of Jewish groups as Cohenite, Levite, Ashkenazite, the overall substantial polyphyletism as well as their systematic occurrence in non-Jewish groups highlights the lack of support for using them either as markers of Jewish ancestry or Biblical tales."

Here in Genomics and Society: Ethical, Legal, Cultural and Socioeconomic Implications I find "genetic markers being used. When blood groups and scrum protein markers were used, the Lemba were indistinguishable from the neighbors among whom they lived; the same was true for mitochondrial DNA which represented the input of females in their gene pool. However, the Y chromosomes, which represented their history through male contributions, showed the link to non-African ancestors. When trying to elucidate the most likely geographic region of origin of the non-African Y chromosomes in the Lemba, the best that could be done was to narrow it to the Middle Eastern region. While no evidence ol the CMH was found in the higher resolution study, no inferences can be made about their claims about being Jewish—all that can be said is the lineage commonly associated with the Cohanim is not found in the Lemba."

And that's based in part on "Lemba origins revisited: Tracing the ancestry of Y chromosomes in South African and Zimbabwean Lemba" SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.103 n.12 Cape Town Dec. 2013 [4] "CONCLUSIONS: While it was not possible to trace unequivocally the origins of the non-African Y chromosomes in the Lemba and Remba, this study does not support the earlier claims of their Jewish genetic heritage." Doug Weller talk 12:40, 14 February 2017 (UTC)

Oops, that last bit is in the article, but when it was added other parts of the article weren't revised. Doug Weller talk 12:56, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
I'm impressed with your speedy response and editing. Good work. Wikipedia is not Conservapedia.1812ahill (talk) 21:16, 14 February 2017 (UTC)


Parfitt had Christian informants. You'd never know from the article that many, perhaps most are Christian, a few are Muslim. I'll try to work on this tomorrow. Doug Weller talk 22:02, 20 February 2017 (UTC).

  1. ^ Kleiman, Yaakov (2004). DNA and Tradition - Hc: The Genetic Link to the Ancient Hebrews. Devora Publishing. p. 81. ISBN 1930143893.