In my family, my father’s side, I am known as a Lemba. This is a particular tribe in Venda said to originally come from Senna in Yamen. We are also known as Black Jews. When I was younger I lived under rules I didn’t understand, rules that were imposed by my father.
We couldn’t eat pork, I still don’t. We couldn’t eat dairy and meat together, I can’t imagine life without cheese burgers now. For the longest time my father slaughtered our meat and ensured it was drained of every drop of its blood at home. The blood was then buried in the earth.
Today I got to understand who I am entirely. Of course my father tried to teach us about our lifestyle but when you’re told that you’re a Black Jew back when I was growing up, back when I thought it was a White way of life, it just did not sink in. It just did not make sense. This is not the case (That it is a white way of life) and there is a Black Jewish community that live embracing their heritage in Yeoville even creating Jewish converts.
Today I spent most of my day in Yeoville with a Nigerian man who is an assistant Rabbi at a Shul on Regent Street. We were there for one of my group members who is looking at Judaism in Yeoville. The Rabbi spoke about the Jewish faith. He is a convert but was so well versed in the history, the practices and the understanding of their way of life. In some way I felt somewhat humiliated when I told him that I was a Lemba and virtually knew nothing. I wander if he thought, even if it was for a brief moment, that the culture was wasted on someone like me who doesn’t understand or appreciate its beauty and uniqueness.
In that hour that were there, I felt like I had been led to this point, to learn more about myself and the life that I should be leading, the legacy I should prepare for my children to nourish and retain for generations to come.
The Rabbi invited me to become a part of the congregation. I am considering it. I am unsure if I am ready to make a complete lifestyle change just yet. Although, it is something I do want to do.
In a strange way I think this path was set for me from the beginning. After that visit I went to spend some time with some Rastafarians, those who come from 12 Chimes House (one of three tribes within Rastafarianism). They too, are largely guided by the Jewish way of life and the time I spent with them was a time wherein I got to learn more and an open up my mind to the glorious life that waits to welcome me once I decide to adopt it.
Today was a day of learning. This in-depth journey is a platform on which I will expand on myself as a person as well as on my knowledge and I look forward to it. This is the final stretch in my journey to becoming a good journalist.