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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621

Abstract

LE ROUX, Magdel. Ngoma Lungundu: An African Ark of the Covenant. Old testam. essays [online]. 2009, vol.22, n.1, pp. 102-125. ISSN 2312-3621.

The Lemba in Southern Africa are a specific group with unique traditions regarding Israelite origins. Their oral traditions also contain significant information on the leading role their priestly family played on their journey from the North into the Arabian Peninsula and eventually into Africa. They blazed their trail southwards into Africa as traders, with the ngoma lungundu ("the drum which thunders") playing a very similar role to that of the Ark of the Covenant. Striking parallels between the two traditions as well as a possible link between these two narratives are scrutinised. This study shows how the Lemba have constructed their own set of beliefs around Biblical myths in the context of marginalisation among other African communities. Their oral culture constitutes their world-view and self-understanding or identity. It incorporates the role of oral traditions, history and historiography. One could draw parallels between orality in early Israelite and African religions. The reciprocity between orality and inscripturation of traditions yields valuable information regarding the possible development of traditions in the Old Testament.

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