Thousands of Nazareth Baptist Church members celebrate 'Inyanga YeZulu'

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Throngs of Nazareth Baptist Church members, popularly known as Shembe, converged at the eBuhleni Village in Inanda, north of Durban, to commemorate the death of AK Shembe, known as Inyanga Yezulu.

Inyanga Yezulu died on September 24 1995. He was the third descendent of Isaiah Shembe, who founded the church in 1910.

Currently, the church has more than two million members in South Africa alone, and close to seven million members in the continent.

A week-long commemoration began yesterday with a prayer, presided over by the current leader, Prophet Vimbeni Shembe, who blessed all those who attended and wished them luck and prolonged life.

"May the spirit of Shembe bless you all," was his message to the thousands of members, who responded in unison "uyingcwele" (you are holy).

Reverend Mhlephila Mthethwa, spokesman for the church, said the commemoration was significant in that it showed respect to the leaders who paved the way for people to lead a pure life.

"The commemoration coincided with the annual maiden's ceremony, where young maidens burn grass they had collected in July for the ceremony and give gifts to Shembe, who in return showers them with gifts," he said.

Celani Dlamini from Inanda said he believed that by virtue of attending, he would be blessed and cleansed. He said Nazareth meant pure and blessed life to him and his family.

Last night was the day for women who gave testimony about the work and blessings of the late Inyanga Yezulu and today, priests will give their tesimony.

The week-long ceremony will end on Saturday with a worship presided by Shembe himself.

Members from all walks of life gave different gifts ranging from livestock, blankets and other items to pay tribute to Shembe.

Sowetan will give you, our readers, a daily update of what is happening at eBuhleni.