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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Isaiah Shembe's theological nationalism, 1920s-1935
Author:Cabrita, JoelISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:African Independent Churches
traditional rulers
About person:Isaiah Shembe (c.1870-1935)ISNI
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03057070903101847
Abstract:This article situates the early twentieth-century writings of the South African Nazaretha Church and its founder, Isaiah Shembe, within a broader context of Zulu nationalism. Accounts of Zulu nationalism in this period have focused on the role of the Zulu king as a unifying symbol. The Nazaretha Church, however, developed a strong polemic against the monarchy, and instead positioned its own leader, Isaiah Shembe, as the unifying national figure of the Zulu. In a fraught relationship between the two institutions, the church denounced the contemporary king, Solomon kaDinuzulu, as well as the historical monarchy, as sinful. By contrast, chiefly converts to the church were used as a template of virtuous political leadership for the nation. This study of Nazaretha 'theological nationalism' - a discourse that, to legitimate itself, posited national unity on ideas of virtue, healing, peacefulness, repentance and submission to Jehovah's dictates - suggests that Zulu nationalism could be a medium for criticizing the African ' kholwa'-monarchical elite of the day. Shembe's nationalism also demonstrates the importance of Independent Churches to public debate in early twentieth-century Natal and Zululand. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]