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Isaiah Shembe

c.1870-1935. Founder of the nativistic ama-Nazaretha in South Africa. He grew up in a heathen environment in Natal, but in response to revelations he began to preach and heal. He was baptized and ordained by a minister of the African Native Baptist Church, but later formed his own organization to which he applied all OT references to the Nazirites. His headquarters were fixed at Ekuphakameni (“the high place”) near Durban, but he traveled throughout Natal and acquired immense influence among the Zulu. He composed many remarkable hymns (Izihlabelelo zama Nazaretha). Biblical influences mingled with traditional Zulu beliefs and practices in his teaching and ritual. He claimed to be the Zulu Messiah, and is revered as such by his followers who believe he has risen. The leadership was inherited by his son, J.G. Shembe.