Three Zulu hymns. Isaiah Shembe, the founder and leader of the Zulu Church which bears his name, wrote many hymns. In them, Zulu and Christian traditions are united to express the aspirations of an exploited people.

I

I shouted day and night:
Why did you not hear me?
Nations, go to sleep that Zulu may be audible
Before the uMsindisi. (1)

I was stopped by all the nations
Which are under the heaven:
Nations, go to sleep that Zulu may be audible
Before the uMsindisi.

You maiden of Nazareth,
May you wail like a rushing stream
About the disgrace that has befallen you
In the land of your people:
Nations, go to sleep that Zulu may be audible
Before the uMsindisi.

You young men of Nazareth,
You wail all like a rushing stream
About the disgrace that has befallen you,
You young men of Shaka:
Nations, go to sleep that Zulu may be audible
Before the uMsindisi.

II

He who is beaten is not thrown away,
Let him not despise himself:
Rise up, rise up
You Africans!

The form of the doorway
Causes you to bend:
Rise up, rise up
You Africans!

The enemies of Jehovah
Rise up against you:
Rise up, rise up
You Africans!

They are given kingly authority
Upon the mountain:
Rise up, rise up
You Africans!

Already, they want to dispossess
The eternal Kingly authority:
Rise up, rise up
You Africans!

III

Give way that we enter,
That we may serve Jehovah!
We were shut in:
The gates are opened!

Give way that he may enter:
Oh, here is Zulu,
The progeny of Dingaan
And Senzangakhona!

Who opened
This door?
Oh! Mkhululi of prisoners! (2)

Come with those nations:
They lack that Word
Which is above all.

from The Theology of a South African Messiah (1967),
E.J. Brill & ed. G.C. Oosthuizen


Footnotes

  1. Msindisi: meaning Saviour or Liberator, referring to Shembe himself as leader of the Church.
  2. Mkhululi: another word meaning Saviour or Liberator, and referring to Shembe himself as leader of the Church.