Last updated: 25 february, 2010 - 17:35 GMT

The Lemba

Lemba men

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The Lemba are one of the less-known peoples of Africa. They claim not to be from Africa at all.

Their tradition says that they are of Jewish descent and their ancestors migrated to Africa from Israel via Yemen.

Nowadays they mostly live in Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and they still follow many Jewish religious practices.

For a long time scientists and historians were sceptical about the Lemba's claims, but DNA tests have shown they do indeed have Jewish genetic links.

More recently attention has focused one of their sacred objects, the Ngoma Lungundu.

The name means "drum that thunders" and it is a replica of the lost Ark of the Covenant, mentioned in the Bible.

The drum was lost for many years, but a British Professor, Tudor Parfitt, has tracked it down.

Through carbon-dating technology, he established that it is almost 700 years old and is the oldest wooden object ever found in sub-Saharan Africa.

Outlook reporter Steve Vickers went to Harare to investigate.

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external link: click Is the Lost Ark Found on NBC

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