- May 2016
Ancient Zimbabwe and the Lemba
What's most interesting about this is the following:
Almost universally accepted amongst contemporary scholars is the opinion that the ancient ruins known as Great Zimbabwe (in what was formerly Rhodesia) – [SIZE=-1]radiocarbon dated to around 1300 AD [/SIZE]–[SIZE=-1] must have been created by the ancestors of the Shona, who today inhabit northern and eastern Zimbabwe. However, this theory was challenged in the 1950s and 1960s by several scholars, including Robert Gayre, the founder of The Mankind Quarterly, who argued that there was no sound evidence that the Shona had ever built with stone. Instead, his suggestion was that this massive finely cut stone structure, and certain lesser stone ruins in the area, were probably constructed by the ancestors of the present day Lemba, a people who are at least partly descended from Semitic trader-adventurers who had travelled down the east coast of Africa in search of gold and other potential exports. The Lemba, Gayre maintained, are distinguished from the Shona by certain physical and cultural qualities that suggested genetic and cultural admixture with Semites. It is argued that modern genetic testing offers a measure of support for this thesis.[/SIZE]
However, according to de Barros (1552 - see McCall-Theal VI, pp. 267-268), in the early 1500s the people living in Great Zimbabwe had absolutely no idea as to who might have built it, saying instead that it must have been ‘the work of the devil’, adding that ‘it just did not seem possible that [the stone structures] should be the work of man’. At that time – according to a report received from Moorish merchants – the building was guarded by a ‘nobleman’ who was looking after some of the wives of the country’s ruler, Benomotapa. Thus, an alternative possible scenario has been proposed (Gayre, 1972; Mullan 1969; Murdock, 1959; Hall and Neal, 1902) suggesting that the original civilization might have been created by (or under the direction of) people of Semitic stock, only to be conquered (perhaps as early as 1350) by Bantu tribes.
The current 'consensus' in academic circles is that the ancient Zimbabwean civilization was created by Shona-speaking people – based on the fact that in recent decades nothing whatsoever has been published to support the alternative (Semitic-based) theory. However, after the identification – in the late 1990s – of Jewish DNA in the Lembas, it is now appropriate to reopen the debate.