KZN's Judea - the iconic village where Shembe followers meet yearly

KZN's Judea - the iconic village where Shembe followers meet yearly

For most people, their religion becomes a part of their culture. Learn more about the Shembe culture and how they gather at the KZN's Judea annually.

Supplied, Tourism KwaZulu Natal
Tourism KZN
Tourism KZN

The Nazareth Baptist Church (Church of Shembe) has millions of members, but the group is still a mystery to many in KwaZulu-Natal.

If you have come across a circle of white painted stones around a tree and wondered how they got there, it is likely that you have come across a Shembe temple.

The stones are used to mark the sacred places where they pray. The Church of Shembe was founded in 1910 by Isaiah Shembe.

Every October, more than 30 000 followers gather in the village of Judea near Eshowe to celebrate the Shembe Festival.  They sing, dance and pray.

Another big gathering for the Shembe happens every January in ekuPhakameni - the original settlement of Shembe’s community.  Shembe bought the site in 1914.

They gather there to take part in the annual pilgrimage to the Nhlangakazi Holy Mountain. It is here where Shembe is believed to have received instructions from God to start the church. EkuPhakameni is also home of the Shembe temple that was built in 1918.  

July is another special month for the Shembe. They return to Nhlangakazi for one of their most popular festivals of the year. Thousands of members from all over South Africa attend.  Scores of people also gather on the last Sunday of the month to witness the sacred dancing.

The Inanda Heritage Route tour stops at several Shembe sites, including EkuPhakameni.

Visitors can get a glimpse of the Shembe’s holy place, while learning more about the church’s history. 

The tour makes a stop at the Ebuhleni village, where visitors can have a look at some of the Shembe Church’s rituals.

The Shembe settlements have become popular destinations for visitors who love learning about history and culture. 

For more KZN Travels articles read below:

  1. Celebrating KZN’s diverse culture: The Umthayi Marula Festival
  2. Five places to eat along the Inanda Heritage Route
  3. Inside the Battle of Isandlwana – Explore one KZN’s most historic sites
  4. Historic Capture Sight Captures the Imagination
  5. Visiting the Valley of Kings

Main image courtesy of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal

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