Sepedi & other Hebrews in South Africa

Updated: Oct 16, 2019

The official story (and the older) of the Zion Christian Church, now with a purported following of some 36 million people, is an interesting one. This tale will on closer inspection also give a glimpse into the history of the so-called Lost Tribes of Israel. Especially The Sephardim Hebrews (Jews) of the Wilderness, the Sepedi.

John Graham Lake (1870-1935), the Canadian-American pentecostal and apostolic prophet did inspire Eugenas `Edward` Lekganyane (?-1967) to become bishop and then went on to found The Christian Zion Church in 1924 (probably earlier, 1910). So the story goes, but the Zion Church and the Hebrews was around long before Lake came down and started spreading strange teachings. All this happened in Lebowakgomo, at the time known as northern Transvaal, which has now changed name (again!) to the Limpopo province. I know, it`s not easy to accommodate all these changes of names. But look at the bright side, at one point these names will again revert back to their good old Biblical names. As this history becomes more common knowledge and refined, hopefully the names of the ancient places will again be known. Does your history buff neighbour know about this site? If not, tell him...

Engenas Lekganyane claims he received a revelation on the top of Mt. Thabakgone (touted as the Mt. Moria), which was also headquarters, near Polokwane, for establishing the ZCC. Officially ZCC got registered in 1962, after pressure brought on the government, as they did not want to recognise that it was in fact one of the continents largest and most influential churches. I mentioned before strange teachings, because most of the ZCC early teachings are strongly influenced by the doctrines of the Christian Apostolic Church of John Alexander Dowie (1847-1907) and that of Zion, Illinois in the US, but also by Pentecostal missionary John G. Lake. Engenas Lekganyane made several appeals to migrant workers and thusly gained reputation and international memberships, setting up congregations in neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique (though the Church probably was founded in Mozambique). This church fuses African traditions and value with the Christian faith, as opposed to mainstream European faith, with its independency and autonomy in terms theology and the very much dogmatic approach. ZCC defended themselves and meant that scholars such as Elias Khelebeni Lukhaimane, Hanekom, Kruger, Sunfkler and Daneel in no way understood ZCC and their approach to Christianity. Apartheids educational system, a system that didn`t do anyone any good other than to the ones behind the agenda, saw ZCC as a small nuisance and a sect. The ZCC also has had a degree of secrecy which did not help much in outsiders speculating and producing inaccurate writings. Though it must have been strange for the outsider to witness the laying on of hand sessions, creative use of holy water, wearing blessed cloth and garment (Tzittzit) and drinking of blessed tea or coffee which was ingested to the point of vomiting. After the tea or coffee had been brought back into the world the drinker had been cleansed from bad spirits that resided in their stomach. Other general beliefs are: saved through baptism in the name of the Trinity, they pray in the name Jesus Christ and some use Modimo for the name of god (not Immanuel or So NiNi). Redemption is obtained through confession, repentance and prayer, and their customs pretty much mirrors Pentecostal and Catholic traditions, merged with some African and or otherwise adapted Christian ways.

Now, if we dive into the linguistics, and look at the word Kganya, which means light in Sepedi, the language and name of a tribe who, for all intents and purposes, seems to have been the historical Sephardim Hebrews. Sepedi historically only described as a language classification of the northern Sotho languages, Pedi (Sepedi) - Sesotho sa Leboa. Otherwise the ZCC put emphasise on the message of peace, and start their greetings with Kgotsong (Kgotso) a e be le lena/kgotso, which means `peace be unto you` (Uxolo lube nawe in Xhosa).

The Sepedi language is also known as northern Sotho, which is different from Setswana (western Sotho), however it is similar and very closely related much like Zulu and Xhosa. A good example is the word light, which in Setswana is lesedi (light), little is Nnyenyane (potlana) . Sheba means look in Sepedi, and also happens to be the name of an area the Sephardim Hebrews now occupy, which is Somalialand (now Somalia). This place on earth could have likely been where the ancient Queen of Sheba hailed from. Now the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) have their own beliefs and traditions, they do however worship the Son (Manwele) and sing songs in worship of Lekganyane (little light), which we now as John the Baptist. They also believe in a form of Catholicism which includes baptism, confession, praying and that repentance heals all sins. There is a belief in *traditional African animism*, praying for water, dancing and mkhukhu: where you leap in to the air and stomp the ground, a way of symbolising a stomping of the devil. Stomp the devil under your foot (Romans 16,20).

The ZCC has many millions of members and has branches all over the so-called Bantustan (provisional labour reserve areas), which now are the independent countries of Bechuanaland now Botswana, Basutoland now Lesotho, Rhodesia now Zimbabwe, Swaziland now eSwatini, a part of Arabia now Mozambique, Northern Rhodesia now Zambia and Zaire now known as Democratic Republic of Congo). Ever since Eugenas Lekganyane in the 1940s, his two sons Edward and Joseph started disagreeing with one another hence the leadership of the church, which ended in a split. This major split, where the church largest section of male migrants backed Edward (oldest son). The rural base where in favour of the youngest son, Joseph, to assume leadership. After disputes and disagreements, they eventually split in 1949, leading Joseph to start St. Eugenas Zion Christian Church and Edward continued under the ZCC banner, started making changes and in time the ZCC grew into a multinational enterprise based at Zion City Moria.

Now one of the modern churches of ZCC uses a star in their logo. For those of you that remember the Scriptures on the Star of Remphan. This star was mentioned and condemned by So NiNi in Amos 5,26, also called the star of your god, Moloch or otherwise called Chiun. This verse is about the Hebrews in the wilderness, which has another mention in Acts 7,43. Here it is called the Star of Remphan. Now we do not know for cetrain about this star, as is just as well could have been the so-called star of David which was Remphans star. The martyrdom of Stephen in Acts seems to indicate the star of Rephaim is the symbol of the Babylonian six sided star of David/Solomon.

Though academic sources cannot not be trusted, Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible (2012), explains Remphan this way;

"The Alexandrian copy reads "Raiphan"; some copies read "Raphan"; and so the Arabic version; others "Rephan"; the Syriac version reads "Rephon"; and the Ethiopic version "Rephom". Giants, with the Hebrews, were called "Rephaim"; and so Mo, who is here meant, is called "Rephan", and with an epenthesis "Remphan", because of his gigantic form; which some have concluded from the massy crown on his head, which, with the precious stones, weighed a talent of gold, which David took from thence, 2 Samuel 12:30 for not the then reigning king of the Ammonites, but Molech, or Milchom, their idol, is meant: this is generally thought to be the same with Chiun in Amos; but it does not stand in a place to answer to that; besides, that should not be left untranslated, it not being a proper name of an idol, but signifies a type or form; and the whole may be rendered thus, "but ye have borne the tabernacle of your king, and the type, or form of your images, the star of your god"; which version agrees with Stephens's, who, from the Septuagint, adds the name of this their king, and their god Rephan, or Remphan."

"Drusius conjectures, that this is a fault of the Scribes writing Rephan for Cephan, or that the Septuagint interpreters mistook the letter for and instead of Cevan read Revan; and Chiun is indeed, by Kimchi and Aben Ezra (h), said to be the same with Chevan, which, in the Ishmaelitish and Persian languages, signifies Saturn; and so does Rephan in the Egyptian language: and it is further to be observed, that the Egyptians had a king called Remphis, the same with Apis; and this may be the reason why the Septuagint interpreters, who interpreted for Ptolomy, king of Egypt, put Rephan, which Stephen calls Remphan, instead of Chiun, which they were better acquainted with, since they both signify the same deity, and the same star; and which also was the star of the Israelites, called by them because supposed to have the government of the sabbath day, and therefore fitly called the "star of your god".

If you look at Saturn, it has often been associated with Satan (is Mon Saturnis). The ancient Chaldeans considered Saturn to be the farthest planet from the sun. So then Moloch, Chiun and Remphan could all be considered names for the star god, Saturn, whose symbol is a six pointed star formed by two triangles. Mo, Chiun, Rephan, or Remphan, along with Remphis, all are the same with the Serapis of the Egyptians (the end stop of most if not all idolatry). This is much the same with the calf of the ancient Israelites; and which idolatry was introduced on account of Joseph, who interpreted the dream of Pharaoh and provided for the Egyptians in the years of plenty against the years of famine, and was worshipped under the ox with a bushel on his head (note this one). How did the star of David really look then? We just don`t known. To make sure, let the Bible decide, and stay away from images and creating imagery all together (Exodus 20,4-6). Now, the Sepedi (Sephardim Hebrews) of the wilderness (ZCC) have the so-called star of David and the other branch of the church has the dove on its emblems.

In closing on the ZCC, we saw a revival of what caused the Protestants to part with Catholics, namely indulgences. These particular indulgences was a way of collecting money for land to build a new Zion City. The funds for this undertaking was obtained solely from Lekganyane and Isaiah M. Shembe (1865-1935) with a kind of potlatch system or donations, where members made cash donations to their ancestors. A way of communication in which Lekganyane was the sole intercessor. The most generous donators were to be granted the greatest favours by the ancestors, while those who gave little got disfavour and had to encounter more misfortune (I can literally hear the wrath of So NiNi being stirred up). As the money started adding up, Lekganyane obtained three large farms (close to Mt. Thabakgone), Maclean farm eventually turned into Zion City Moria. It has since then become Africa`s biggest pilgrimage site, attracting millions of visitors every easter.

If you take a closer look at Leboha (in Ezekiel 7,23-29) you will find where Mt. Moria of Lekganyane is located, sometimes referred to as Sione or Zion (Revelation 14,1-5).

Branching out on from the Sepedi (and the ZCC) we search for other possible candidates of Hebrews in Southern Africa. Here we find plenty, such as the Lemba of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) including the Zezuru, Shona, Venda and Kalanga of the Zanj (East-Africa). Other Hebrews are the Suba Tribe (Subia) of the pygmy and Khoisan in the southwest Africa, today known as Namibia, and the Congola (now known as Congo and Angola). Other Sephardim Hebrews would be the Luba (Lubia) tribes namely the Nyanka and Chews from Nysaland (Malawi) on the East coast of Africa, Tanganyika (Tanzania) and te Juba (Jubia) of the southwestern Sudan (all the way to Timbutku), then comes the Songay, Ashante and the Swahili, to the north you find the Mizrahim Hebrews of Nuba (Nubia) which is now Sudan, Kush (Ethiopia), Sheba (Somalia), Mizra (Egypt) and Lybia (Lybia).

Almost all (if not all) Southern African Bantus must be Israelites or descendants of Israelites, and they can be divided (for systematic approaches) into the two Bantu dialects, Paleo and Nguni. In Paleo we would place the group speaking the ancient language (Paleo-Hebrew and such). Would have sounded like Sesotho, Setswana and Sepedi, most likely the language the Old Testament is/was written in. Then comes the Nguni speaking people, with isiXhosa, isiZulu and isiNdebele, the dialects we can find so many traces of in the New Testament. The language Msindisi (Manwele) spoke, his family was of the tribe of Judah, and this particular tribe being a Nguni speaker. There are many other Bantu dialects spread across Africa which connects to Paleo or Nguni, such as Shona and Swahili spoken in Central Africa and Southeast Africa, which sounds like isiNdebele. Zimbabwe are well connected to Tshivenda in Limpopo, with their nickname being Mashiangane, as they ran away from Mozambique to South Africa and left children behind, Mashia - Nngane. These people then mingled with the Pedi people of Leboha (Ezekiel 7,23-29) and out of that the Tshivenda language was formed, in the tribe of Ephraim and Dan combined. These two families, Pedi and Leboha have allot in common, same food, traditional clothing, dance, they even resemble in appearance. The majority of them, the Paleo speaking people all worship in the ZCC, do you follow?

Now the Sepedi (Northern Sotho) and Setswana, are according to the Bible (where they are called Dan and Ephraim) the two tribes that introduced paganism and worship of idols in the ancient days. If you read up on the consequences for idol worship (Deuteronomy 28,18-21) but also the tribal allotments in Ezekiel 48,1. Both Dan and Ephraim are talked about in 1. Kings 12,25-30, but are respectfully left out of chapter 7 in Revelations (which could be that the 12,000 of tribe of Joseph, consists of both Dan and Ephraim).

If you read Judges 17,21 you get to know two stories of apostasy (rebellion) in ancient Israel (South Africa), where both revolve around Dan and Ephraim in the city of Bethlehem (where David was born, the chosen coming King of Israel). Judges makes it clear that in this time there was no king in Israel. Dan sinned by regarding the land So NiNi Himself gave them, as not acceptable, thus they abandoned it. While they passed through Ephraims land, they stole idols from a home and even got a Levite priest to serve in a false temple in the newly acquired territory. Dan then became the first tribe to embrace idol worship in Southern Africa. Ephraim then, being the source of the idols themselves, assumed control of the land originally intended for Dan. This resulted in the excluding from the privilege of preparing Israel and the world for the coming of Msindisi.

Listen now and let this sink in, almost all black people in South Africa could and should be characterised as descendants of the tribes of Israel. Thusly, for gain a better overview we can divide them into two language groups, Paleo, spoken by all Sotho people, Batswana (Tswana), Bapedi (Pedi) and Basotho, which more than likely was the language the Old Testament was written in. These belong to the tribe of Levite, the priests and prophets, like Moses (Musa). The second language group is Nguni, which are responsible for the New Testament, The Xhosa, Zulu and Ndebele. If you compare Xhosa and Sesotho you find many similar words. Tswana has their own church called Modise and the Zulus call theirs Shembe. Below you can see the lines fringes on the garments, same meaning as when Manwele had them on them (Matt 9:20–22, Mark 5:25–34, Luke 8:43–48).

Now most tribe names is derives from the name of their king, respectfully often the last king in power, such as Mswati, King Shaka Zulu, King Mopedi and so forth. All these Bantu peoples in Southern Africa have since the passing of time subsequently been mixed with each other and they can be separated as tribes only if you recognise the totem of their family. This is the only way you can connect them

The Pedi, Sotho, Xhosa, Zulu and Tswana have the lion as their totem. This explains why Msindisi was the lion of Judah, as the lion was the totem of his tribe. People of Uganda, Kenya and some in Southern Africa (Koena, Lesotho, possibly Moses totem) have a crocodile as their totem, which would make them the tribe of Reuben.Other tribes again have Birds, Impalas, Cows, etc. Read Genesis 49. If you see that the Twelve Tribes are often described as animals, trees, bird and so forth, in the form of symbolism from Creation. The best example of Msindisi, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

Folks, none has all the answers, except The Most High. We have to work together to better understand and decipher the mystery of what is Msindisi our Saviour, and we must read the Bible in their original language. There is confusion on every corner on account of the lack of understanding and cooperation among people. The chaotic views becomes apparent in the so-called history of the Israelites and the message of the Gospel. Like the Hebrew Israelites movement (mostly West African descendants) prevalent in the States, and the kinds of messages they are spreading. These doctrines seems very ill informed and far removed from the humble spirit of Msindisi. Manwele gave up his life so that all could come to Him, instead people convolute the Truth (which is simple) and they start adding to or taking from - creating more boundaries and a focus on the old tribal ways. Finding, informing and sharing the history of these lost tribes is for the sake of putting Israel back on the map again. Not turning people against one another, but trying to unite them that still walk the Way of Truth. And to do this we need every man, woman and child to come together. Salvation is of the Hebrews, remember? (John 4,22)

Everyone, no matter their colour of skin or ethnicity, should be interested in the truth coming to the surface. Those looking for genealogical purity or a revival of the old Pharisaical ways, thinking along the liens of "I`m from better stock than you", will not find such sentiments in this blog. In Msindisi we are a new creation right here right now. Hoping for the good things to come. Not desperately trying to relive the past in its former glories - trying so hard to remember Israel for what it once was. Instead lets try to imagine what it will be like in the Creation to come. No tribes or border, no labels, no Seventh Day Adventists, ZCC, Catholics or Protestants, no black or white, no yellow or red... A place and time where everyone knows So NiNi and His holy Mountain (Isaiah 66,23).

Make no mistake - The peoples with the old cultures, traditions and customs, which you can compare to the Biblical Israelites in Southern Africa, are The descendants of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Look up Genesis 10, and you see references to nationalities, languages, clans and territories. And still they are there to this very day. As Zephaniah so amply puts it, beyond the Rivers of Ethiopia (Zephaniah 3,10)...well you know the rest, if you don`t, then look it up !

Wake`em up ! Tell people about these things !

Siyakhula kunye

A e be le lena

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