Shembes start annual pilgrimage

Published Jan 4, 2016


Durban - Tens of thousands of Shembes braved the searing heat to start their annual pilgrimage on Sunday.

Congregants of the church’s eBuhleni faction had started gathering at the temple in Inanda from early Sunday.

Leader Mduduzi “uNyazi” Shembe started the trek at about 2am, said spokesman Reverend Mhlaliseni Hlatshwayo.

He said the pilgrims had arrived at their first resting place at the first of many temples and homes of significance to the faith, where the congregants would stop for a rest along the 80km route to the holy mountain of Khenana, in Ndwedwe.

The eBuhleni church had been worshipping at this mountain for three years, leaving the Mount Nhlangakazi to a rival faction.

A split in the church followed the death of Inkosi Vimbeni Shembe in 2011. The tug of war for leadership had spilled over even at this holy mountain, and is currently the subject of an ongoing court battle. The two holy mountains are in the same area.

Congregants believe that God spoke to Isaiah Shembe on Mount Nhlangakazi, instructing him to establish the Nazareth Baptist (Shembe) Church in the early 1900s.

Congregants of the eBuhleni Shembe church came from as far as Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe to take part in the pilgrimage.

They painted Inanda white with their robes, singing and dancing in praise on the way.

“There is a spirit of joy and thanksgiving on the way which attracts people, and anyone is welcome,” said Hlatshwayo.

Along the way there were water stations, medical care and vehicles to pick up those who got too weary to continue.

Marshals kept order as did a strong police presence, to ensure there were “no disturbances”.

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, a member of the church, was among the congregants who took part in the monumental pilgrimage, which started on the first Sunday of the year.

Hlatshwayo said they were expecting to reach Khenana on Tuesday, where they would spend the month worshipping and praying for protection and guidance from God for the year ahead.

Daily News

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