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May 11, 2011

The Africa Israel Hypothesis (AIH) is a proposal that attempts to address the question of the Jewish, Hebrew or Israelite identity or origins of indigenous African people groups such as the Kayla/Agau of East Africa, the Luba of Central Africa, the Igbo of West Africa, the Lemba of South Africa and other people groups from Africa or the African Diaspora. Since the introduction of the Bible of European and American missionaries to African colonization and education that dawned with the slave trade, speculation about the “lost tribes of Israel” loomed large in the imagination of these colonizing agents due to their witness of the similarity of traditions, cultural practices, moral and ethical precepts of Africans to “Jewish” precepts and practices as found in the Hebrew Scriptures. This in turn has resulted in the phenomenon of Hebrew or Israelite identity being claimed by various African people groups.  The AIH turns this current trend in African Israelite identity on its head by proposing that what we find as evidence of Hebrew identity in Africa is instead evidence of the African origins of these so-called “Hebrewisms” and other “Jewish” cultural identifiers that find themselves in the Hebrew Bible narratives. In short the AIH is an anti-thesis to the current thesis that seeks to establish and validate such claims.


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