Friday, September 25, 2009

A Swazi, not a Zulu

Recently, I was astonished (in a positive sense) to learn that a fellow student at university in the mid-eighties had converted to Judaism. Not only did he convert to Judaism but he became a rabbi and now gives lectures internationally on topics such as Kabbalah and Sabbath amongst others.

You see, Rabbi Natan Gamedze is a Swazi prince. He was born a Prince of the Kingdom of Swaziland and studied Modern Language and Translation at WITS University in Johannesburg.

Why am I bringing this up in my blog? Well, the main character in my novel The Goat Herder, Nathi, (note the similarity in name – is there such a thing as coincidence?) is a Zulu who leaves his tribal home and goes to look for work in the city. He falls in love with his Jewish employer’s daughter Ruth and, much later in the story, faces the dilemma whether or not to convert to Judaism so that he can be accepted by Ruth’s family. To know what happens you’ll have to read the book :) which, G-dwilling, will be published in the not too distance future.
If you’re interested to read more about this fascinating man, Rabbi Natan Gamedze, go to

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