Shembe Heritage Sites

I read with particular interest that certain Shembe sites in Inanda are now heritage landmarks as the Shembe and Inanda have featured in a fair bit of my work. My Master’s dissertation focussed on the functions of dreams and visions in the Shembe Church at Inanda, we have been working on a mapping prototype for Inanda, and in the early 2000s, I worked as a Research Assistant on a project for the National Monuments Council, which looked at exactly this, the potential designation of Shembe holy sites as heritage landmarks. I am happy to see that this has now come to fruition.


Below is the municipality’s article:

A number of major sites connected to the Shembe faith have been awarded Cultural and Religious Heritage landmark status, thanks to efforts by the Municipality. Provincial agency Amafa/Heritage KwaZulu-Natal approved a nomination by the Municipality to proclaim the Shembe Ebuhleni and Ekuphakameni villages, as well as the pilgrimage route and Nhlangakazi Holy Mountain, in Ndwedwe. eThekwini’s Senior Project Manager Peter Gilmore said the Municipality and the Inanda Community Tourism Board made the nomination to Amafa in an effort to make the newly launched Woza eNanda heritage route more attractive to international tourists and to preserve important heritage and cultural sites along the route. The Shembe, or Nazareth Baptist Church, was founded in the province by Isaiah Shembe in 1910 and its members are said to now number about 4 million. The annual Shembe pilgrims’ walk to the faith’s holy mountain is one of the largest religious pilgrimages on the continent, said Gilmore. Mandla Nxumalo, a curator at the Ohlange Institute, which is on the Woza eNanda route, welcomed news of the granting of Amafa status. “This will add value to our route, this is one of the places which has a rich history in our province. “I hope that this will improve access for tourists in the area and further developments can take place,” he said. Gilmore said efforts were now being made by the Municipality to apply for national heritage status for other facilities on the Inanda Heritage Route, including the Gandhi settlement, John Dube museum and Inanda Seminary.


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