An African Mecca

Shembe pilgrimage to Nhlangagazi

Shembe pilgrimage to Nhlangagazi

It may be a bit late in the day, but when Mabusi Kgwete, the team leader for the Ulwazi fieldworkers, posted some photos online from the annual Shembe pilgrimage, I thought it would be remiss of us not to talk about this incredible event that happens at the beginning of every year.

Every January around two million members of the Nazareth Baptist Church, more commonly referred to as Shembes, walk nearly 60km barefoot over a period of three days to the Holy Mountain of Nhlangakazi. The mountain is located 30 kilometers North of iNanda in the town of Ekuphakameni, and is home to two important branches of the Shembe church. The Nhlangakazi pilgrimage is the most important event on the Shembe calender and represents a quest for spiritual uplifment. Isaiah Shembe, the founder of the church, was the first to complete the pilgrimage in 1916, after he was summoned to the mountain by God. It is said that God spoke to Shembe as he did with Moses at Mount Sinai. Ekuphakameni is also home to the most sacred shrines and is where holy water is kept for ceremonies.

Click here to read more about Nhlangakazi.

Photo courtesy of Mabusi Kgwete.

One Response to An African Mecca

  1. Grant 04/03/2014 at 5:53 pm #

    I wrote my Master’s thesis on the Shembe church. See here:

    http://researchspace.ukzn.ac.za/xmlui/handle/10413/4131

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