View Full Version : Lemba

09-24-2014, 04:54 PM
To answer someone a while back I had to read on the Bantu language group. One member of this language group are the Lemba. It has been conjectured that they have Jewish (or Semetic) roots, based on analysis of their Y-chromosome. Haven't found a thread relating to such, but here's some information from Wikipedia.
The Lemba or wa-Remba (their preferred name is Mwenye)[1] are a southern African ethnic group found in Zimbabwe and South Africa, with smaller, little-known branches in Mozambique and Malawi. According to Tudor Parfitt, Professor of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, in 2002 they numbered an estimated 50,000.[2] They speak the Bantu languages spoken by their geographic neighbours and resemble them physically, but they have some religious practices and beliefs similar to those in Judaismand Islam, which they say were transmitted orally.[3]
The name "Lemba" may originate in chilemba, a Swahili word for turbans worn by some Bantu peoples, or lembi, a Bantu word meaning "non-African" or "respected foreigner".[4] Magdel le Roux says that the name VaRemba may be translated as "the people who refuse" probably in the context of "not eating with others" (according to one of her interviewees).[3] In Zimbabwe and South Africa, the people prefer the name Mwenye.[2]
Since the late twentieth century, there has been increased media and scholarly attention to the people's claims of partial common descent to the Jewish people.[5][6][7] Genetic Y-DNA analyses in the 2000s have established a partially Middle-Eastern origin for a portion of the male Lemba population.[8][9] Both Arabs and Jews share this DNA, but the Cohen Modal Haplotype, an indicator of Jewish ancestry, has been found among the males of one leadership clan at rates even higher than the general Jewish population.[10]

There are numerous versions of their myths of origin, but they generally tell of migrating from the North (which is common to many African ethnicities.)[17] According to Lemba tradition, their male ancestors were Near Eastern Jews who left Judea about 2,500 years ago and settled in a place called Senna in the Arabian peninsula (present-day Yemen). Much later, they migrated into North East Africa.[18]

DNA testing[edit]
Genetic testing supports some Lemba oral traditions related to origin in the Middle East.[39] A genetic study in 1996 of 49 Lemba males suggested that more than 50% of the Lemba Y-chromosomes are Semitic in origin, shared by Arabs and Jews.[8]
To define the people's origin more specifically, Parfitt and others developed a larger study to compare additional Lemba subjects (for whom clans were recorded) with males from South Arabia, Bantu in Africa, as well as Ashkenazy and Sephardic Jews.[40] They found significant similarities between the markers of the Lemba and men of the Ḥaḍramawt in Yemen. They also learned that the population in Yemen was relatively recent, so would not have shared common ancestors with those of the Lemba.[40]
A subsequent study in 2000 found that a substantial number of Lemba men carry a particular haplotype of the Y-chromosome known as the Cohen modal haplotype (CMH), as well as a haplogroup of Y-DNA Haplogroup J found among some Jews, but also in other populations across the Middle East and Arabia.[41][42] The genetic studies have suggested that there is no Semitic female contribution to the Lemba gene pool.[43] This indicates that Israelite men migrated to Africa in ancient times and took wives from among the local people after settling in new communities.
Among Jews the CMH marker is most prevalent among Jewish Kohanim, or hereditary priests. As recounted in Lemba oral tradition, the ancestor of the Buba clan "had a leadership role in bringing the Lemba out of Israel" and eventually into Southern Africa.[44] The genetic study found that 50% of the males in the Buba clan had the Cohen marker, a proportion higher than in the general Jewish population.[45] While not defining the Lemba as Jews, the genetic results confirm the oral accounts of ancestral males originating from outside Africa, and specifically from southern Arabia.[46]
More recently, Mendez et al. (2011) observed that a moderately high frequency of the studied Lemba samples carried Y-DNA Haplogroup T, which is also considered to be of Near Eastern origin. The Lemba T carriers belonged exclusively to T1b, which is rare and was not sampled in indigenous Jews of the Near East or North Africa. T1b has been observed at low frequencies in the Bulgarian and Ashkenazi Jews as well as in a few Levantine populations.[47]
Recent research published in the South African Medical Journal studied Y-chromosomes variations in two groups of Lemba, one South African and the other Zimbabwean (the Remba). It concluded that "While it was not possible to trace unequivocally the origins of the non-African Y chromosomes in the Lemba and Remba, this study does not support the earlier claims of their Jewish genetic heritage." The researcher suggested "a stronger link with Middle Eastern populations, probably the result of trade activity in the Indian Ocean."[48]


01-23-2017, 08:33 AM

More support for the unlikely Jewish link of the Lemba with Jewish populations was reported by Mendez et al. following the finer resolution of haplogroups L and T. In this study, a novel mutation (P326) was found in both haplogroups L and T.
However, additional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), PS129, PS18 (M70), PS21 and L131 resolved haplogroup T into sub-branches T*, T1*, T1a* (with 6 sub-lineages) and T1b* (with 3 sub-lineages), respectively. Y chromosomes from Jewish populations clustered in branch T1a*. In the sample of 34 Lemba included in this study, 6 Lemba Y chromosomes (17.6%) were assigned to the branch T1b*.
Although this level of resolution was not genotyped in the present study, T1b* chromosomes would be represented by haplogroup L-M11 chromosomes found in the Lemba and Remba (Fig 1A). The present-day distribution of haplogroup L-M11 is mostly confined to southern, central and western Asia; it has been found only at low frequencies in populations of the Caucasus region and the Middle East and is absent in Palestinian and Syrian Arab.11 , 24-27

T1b is now called T1a2 ..........branch L131
T1a is now called T1a1 ..........branch L162