What tribes are the Bantus in Nigeria

Black-skinned Jews - in Africa, where Christian and Muslim missionaries worked for centuries, they remain a minority to this day. It is not uncommon for them to be met with aloof. A conference at the South African University of KwaZulu-Natal recently invited scientists from Africa, Israel, Europe and the US to Durban to spark interest in this group that lives across the continent.

Edith Bruder, founder of the Society for African Judaism, hoped not only to attract attention from the West, but also to get to know each other among Jewish communities. The anthropologist Shalva Weil, who has been researching Jewish communities in Ethiopia for more than 30 years, rated the meeting as a success. In an interview with the Jüdischen Allgemeine she said: “For the first time, Jews from Africa were connected to one another. It's amazing how quickly a dialogue emerged. «On the second day she already felt a feeling of togetherness.

Origin Unlike in Europe, Jews in Africa do not share a common history. Their rites, holidays and even their religious everyday life are often fundamentally different. Several thousand kilometers separate the Igbo in Nigeria, the Lemba in South Africa and the Abayudaya ("Children of Judah") in Uganda. There are worlds between their cultures. Nevertheless, their representatives all refer to a common origin: They are not Jews, but Israelites, lost tribes of Israel.

Jewish fundamentalists in Zimbabwe even claim that all black Bantu peoples have their origins in the ancient Israelite empire. However, the State of Israel refuses to recognize the African tribes as Jews.

All but one: Beta Israel, the Ethiopian Jews. They have the full support of the Jerusalem government. The former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadja Josef declared Beta Israel, the Falascha, to be descendants of the lost tribe of Dan in 1975. In 1984 and 1991, Israel launched two large-scale bailouts to bring these Jews to Israel.

However, the existence of Africa's so-called modern Jews is a thorn in the side of the Israeli chief rabbinate. This group does not mean those who emigrated from Europe to South Africa before the Second World War and established a new existence here. "Modern Jews" live in isolated communities across Africa and only discovered Judaism in the past century.

In Uganda a soldier gathered a community around him around 1920 and founded a sect with Jewish elements. Religious schools emerged to which Jews from Kenya also sent their children. According to their own statements, the ancestors of the parishioners were expelled during the Spanish Reconquista, but there is no historical evidence. Part of the Tutsi social group claims to be a chosen "race" as Jews. That is likely to fuel the conflict in genocide-ridden Rwanda.

Whether the meeting in Durban would actually take place was uncertain until the very end, as several lectures by Israeli scholars and diplomats have recently been canceled. Relations between South Africa and Israel have been suffering for a long time. In the summer, a Jewish journalist from Cape Town caused a sensation who, as she said, demonstratively wanted to give up her Judaism because of Israel's "violent ethnic repression." Shortly beforehand, South Africa's deputy minister for international cooperation, Ebrahim Ebrahim, had advised against visiting Israel.