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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Carl Faye's Transcript of Isaiah Shembe's Testimony of His Early Life and Calling
Author:Papini, Robert
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa
Geographic terms:South Africa
Subjects:African Independent Churches
African religions
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
Abstract:This paper examines an interview transcript of an oral account by the Zulu Zionist prophet Isaiah Shembe (c. 1870-1935) of his early life. It was taken down in 1929, and forgotten ever since amongst the archived papers of Carl A.N. Faye (1888-1965), chief clerk and interpreter/translator of the Natal Native Affairs Department (NAD) throughout the period of Shembe's mission. By the time the invitation came from the Chief Native Commissioner's office late in 1929, Shembe had become Natal's 'enigmatic personage', known to the Zulu political elite as 'the madman, son of Mayekisa', and to the English-reading public as 'the remarkable Zulu native faith doctor'. The paper concludes that, initially disturbed by the possible political implications of the rise of African independent churches, the Natal NAD was forced by the rapidity of sociopolitical developments in South Africa over the 1920s to re-evaluate the increasingly conspicuous Shembe movement for its serviceability in the maintenance of social order. The original Zulu transcript and an English translation follow the article. Bibliogr., notes, ref.