A video has gone viral on social media showing a man notably one of Isaiah Mloyiswa Mdliwamafa’s Shembe member, who refused to kneel before King Zwelithini while receiving a handshake.
This happened when the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini received a warm welcome from most of the Shembe church members while visiting one of the members in KwaZulu-Natal.
In a video circulating on Facebook, the Zulu king is seen shaking hands with the church members who kneel to him while in their church uniform, with some taking videos of the interaction.
This went on until one Shembe member walked to him stretching out his hands to shake e King Zwelithini. The king was clearly seen refusing to shake his hand and gesturing to him kneel down before receiving the handshake.
But surprisingly, the shembe member refused and in a move that signifies the monarch can keep his handshake, the man turned and walked away.
This has generated much controversy as viewers debated who was wrong in the situation. Some say the Shembe member was wrong to have disrespected his king like that.
“When Africans see the British and other Europeans respect their kings, people are wowed and admire foreign things….he is the King of one of the most respected nations in the world and he is African so that to me is respect earned ….people need to stop thinking about themselves and start to understand their culture,” said one user who condemned the church member’s actions.
Another asked if the man’s actions were an indication of the Shembe church taking over the Zulu nation under the cover of religion.
“I also wouldn’t kneel before him. Nothing special about him other than the family he just happened to be born into. The one person for whom I have the most respect and admiration for on this planet [my mother] doesn’t expect me to kneel before her but I’d do it in a heartbeat if she did,” said one user, who said the Zulu monarch was expecting too much.
The Shembe church is widely known across South African borders. The church which is also known as Ibandla lamaNazaretha, was founded by Isaiah Mloyiswa Mdliwamafa Shembe- a self-styled prophet who claimed to have been sent directly by God.
He was born in 1865, at Ntabamhlophe (Estcourt Area) in the Drakensberg region of Natal. He was of pure Zulu decent. When he was very young his family had fled from Shaka during the Mfecane period.
The Shembe church observes rituals which include fasting, the washing of feet, keeping of the Sabbath and baptism by immersion.