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SHEMBE STATUE (article first published : 2003-10-16)

The installation in Durban of the statue of The Prophet Isaiah Mloyiswa Mdliwamafa Shembe is a landmark initiative as it will be the first African statue in the eThekwini Municipality. His energy and spirit has been shown in the winning submission for the commision of the statue by Andries Botha and James Streak assisted by Selbourne Shange/Neliswe Mvobo.

At the project signing ceremony, Head of the Parks, Recreation and Culture department Thembinkosi Ngcobo stated that …”we have finally reached the point where one of the movers and shakers of South African Resistance History will finally be acknowledged for his contribution for not fearing oppression and the mighty wrath of the colonial regime.”

Thembinkosi Ngcobo added that academic writing on the Shembe movement/religion was “more extensive than on any other African-initiated church in South Africa. Scholars have emphasised the historical contribution of Shembe to African society’s spiritual resistance in KZNl during the brutal period from the 1910 Union onward, when Settler legislation resulted in political exclusion of the black middle class, and bitter deprivation for the masses.”

While Isaiah Shembe was the founder of an African Independent Church, the Statue being erected is to honour his entrepreneurial foresight as well as his insistence on retaining Zulu beadwork as part of dress, his political savvy and his courage to confront the repressive regime of the Native Administration.

The Shembe Statue is to be located on the beachfront overlooking the spot where the Prophet is known to have parted the waters.

More information from Giselle McClure of the Heritage Department on 031 311 2223.




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