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Southern Africa Jewish Genealogy SA-SIG

Southern Africa Sub-continent


Editor: Dr Saul Issroff
Copyright © 1999-2006 Saul Issroff, Mike Getz, SAfrica SIG
and Jewishgen Inc.
Revised: 30 August 2006



  1. Angola
  2. Botswana (previously Basutoland)
  3. Cabo Verde (Cape Vert or Cape Verde)
  4. Eritrea
  5. Kenya
  6. Madeira
  7. Mauritius
  8. Mozambique
  9. Namibia (previously South West Africa, German South West Africa)
  10. South West Africa
  11. Swaziland
  12. Zaire
  13. Zambia (previously Northern Rhodesia)
  14. Zimbabwe (previously Southern Rhodesia)

  15. Central Africa Countries Genealogy Mailing Lists


Jews settled in many of the smaller African countries between 1880 and 1930. Some were previously British Colonies or Protectorates, others Portuguese or Belgian. Some of these communities have dwindled in numbers or even vanished. Information for most of these places is sparse. An African Jewish Congress has been established. Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft is the spiritual leader, and travels extensively to visit remaining Jews and to photograph cemeteries (over 14,000 tombstones recorded to date), old synagogues and look after areas of Jewish importance.

Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft
"The Travelling Rabbi" and Spiritual Leader to S.A. Country Communities, SAJBD and African Jewish Congress
Mobile phone: +27 82 440 2621
Facsimile: +27 11 485 4325
P.O. Box 51663, Raedene, 2124, South Africa.


The names of some of the South East African and Central African countries have changed. The countries listed below were British. All had significant small Jewish communities except Tanganyika, Uganda and Nyasaland.

  1. Botswana: previously Bechuanaland (British)
  2. Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika were grouped together as British Colonies prior to independence.
  3. Lesotho: previously Basutoland (British)
  4. Malawi: previously Nyasaland (British)
  5. Tanganyika: was German East Africa prior to World War I
  6. Tanzania: previously a combination of Tanganyika and Zanzibar (British).
  7. Zambia: previously Northern Rhodesia (British)
  8. Zimbabwe: previously Southern Rhodesia (British)

Mauritius, an island in the Indian ocean, has been French and British.


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Catumbela - general cemetery, has 12 Jewish graves, as from 1892. Benguela - small Jewish corner in the general cemetery "Campo da Igualdade" Luanda - in the general cemetery of Alto das Cruzes, there are two Jewish tombstones.


BOTSWANA (previously Basutoland)
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A number of Jews were prominent farmers and traders , and contributed in many ways to the development of this sparsely populated, vast country.

Gaborone: a small contemporary community exists. Jews are interburied with others.


CABO VERDE (Cape Vert or Cape Verde)
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The Republic of Cape Verde consists of ten islands about 300 miles off the coast of West Africa. From the period of the Inquisition until the late 19th century this predominantly Catholic area received Jews fleeing from religious persecution or searching for greater economic opportunity.

There are four Jewish cemeteries:

  1. Cidade da Praia, Santiago Island - a small separate Jewish cemetery.
  2. Cidade da Ponta do Sol - Santo Antao Island - large number of Jewish interburials
  3. Campinas - Penha de Franca - Santo Antao Island - six Jewish tombstones.
  4. Paul, Santo Antao Island (no further information)

Carol S. Castiel wrote:

"Please note that the cemetery in Paul (Penha da Franca) was beautifully restored with funds from PROMEX (Cape Verde's Promotion of Exports and Investment Agency) in 1999. It was inaugurated with the Israeli Ambassador to Cape Verde and Senegal in that same year."


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Eritrea is somewhat north of the SA-SIG catchment area and this item is included here as being of general interest.

An article about the Jewish community was published in 'Hamodia' newspaper dated 11 May 2001, page 38.

Asmara Hebrew Congregation, Synagogue, Haille Mariam Mammo Street, Asmara, Eritrea.
The synagogue can seat 60 people.
Last wedding celebrated in 1950's.
Synagogue Keeper, Samuel Cohen (aged 53 in 2001)
The Rabbi was evacuated with the expatriate community in 1975.
In the 1950's the Jewish community numbered around 500.
According to David Cohen, uncle of Samuel Cohen, at the High Holy Days the congregation was swelled by Jews from as far as Khartoum, Sudan.
Samuel Cohen's family emigrated to Eritrea around 1900. Settled in Massawa. Forced by earthquake in 1923 to move to Asmara. Four members of the Cohen family remain.


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Jewish settlement, mainly in Nairobi, dates from around 1900 when the British Government offered the Zionists a territory for an autonomous Jewish Settlement. This was refused by Herzl, and shortly after a few Jews settled in the Colony. Later some Central European refugees settled. Currently, about 165 Jewish families live here including a number of Israelis. There are Jewish burials.

Nairobi Hebrew Congregation (established 1904)
PO Box 40990,
Tel: 222770

Ref: Jews of Nairobi 1903-1963 by Julius Carlebach.

The Jewish Chronicle (London, U.K.) for 11 May 2001, page 23, published a detailed obituary. Professor Julius Carlebach. Born in Hamburg, Germany, 28 December 1922. Died in Brighton, England, 16 April 2001. Married Myrna Landau (ex-Cape Town). Went to Kenya, 1959. Administrator to the Board for Kenya Jewry. Took over rabbinic duties at Nairobi Synagogue. Returned to England, 1963.


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A Jewish Cemetery has existed at Funchal since 1851.


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A small Jewish expatriate community exists. There is a Jewish Cemetery with graves of around 135 refugees denied entry into Palestine and interned by the British on the Island during 1940-1945.


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Maputo: (previously Lourenco Marques), Moçambique.
A Portuguese colony until 1974, now independent.
Cemetery name: Cemiterjo Comunal Israelita, Avenida Latino Coelho.
(1880-1960). Some entirely Portuguese names but the majority of the estimated 150 or so names there were "English" and "East European" names, not Portuguese. Many were South African Jews (generally immigrants from Lithuania to South Africa from about 1880-1940) who settled in Lourenco Marques rather than South Africa itself. Around 100 Jewish graves. There is a small active community now , with some conversos, but mainly expatriates.

According to the Jewish Tribune newspaper (UK) for 22 June 2000, page 9, "About 19 Jews currently live in Mozambique."

Beira: at least 2 Jewish tombstones (Lina Goldstein and Joshua Krongold) interburied.

Jewish Community of Mozambique:
c/o Natalie Tenzer-Silva
P.O. Box 232, Maputo, Moçambique.
Telephone: 494413.


NAMIBIA (previously South West Africa, German South West Africa)
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Windhoek: This is the capital city. Jews have been present since its establishment. The community has dwindled to around 30 families from 170 in 1965. Large cemetery.

Keetmanshoop, Luderitz and Swakopmund have Jewish burials. Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft has photographed every Jewish grave in these cemeteries. In addition there are some Jewish burials on farms.

SWA Scientific Society
Box 76


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German South West Africa became a Protectorate under the League of Nations and was governed by South Africa until becoming independent, and is now called Namibia. Around 30 Jews now, but had about 50 families at its peak, and they were very important in commercial development of the country.

Angola was a similar Portuguese colony. The old Congo states, French and Belgium, had significant Jewish settlements until independence.


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A small Jewish Community exists, mainly in the capital, Mbabane. Jews are interburied with others.


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Under Belgian Colonial Rule (pre-1960) there were around 2,500 Jews in eight communities, centred in Elisabethville. The majority of this largely Sephardic Community came from Rhodes or Salonika, and many settled in the Cape after independence. Now there are around 85 in Kinhasa (Leopoldville), and a few in Lumbasha (Elisabethville), and smaller towns. A number of Israeli expatriates work there.

There is a Jewish burial ground, under the control of the Chief Rabbi of Zaire:

Rabbi Moshe Levy,
50 West Churchill Avenue,
PO Box 15,


ZAMBIA (previously Northern Rhodesia)
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Approximately 35 Jews now live mainly in Lusaka. The Zambian Copperbelt was an important copper mining and trading area where many Litvaks originally emigrated to from 1880.

Chairman: M.C. Galaun
The Council for Zambia Jewry, Ltd.
P.O.Box 30020
Lusaka 10101

Tel: 229190
Fax: 221428

The Jews of Zambia Project aims at recording the History of the Jews of Zambia.

A book on the subject is in the course of publication.

34 John Street
London WC1N 2EU


ZIMBABWE (previously Southern Rhodesia)
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Daniel Montague Kisch arrived in the country in 1869, long before the British South Africa Company (Cecil John Rhodes) received its charter in 1889. Kisch become the main adviser to the tribal chief, King Lobengula. Many Jewish pioneers of eastern European origin emigrated from the 1880's onward, and were fundamental to the development of the country. Later some arrived from the South, some walking from the east coast Portuguese territory of Mozambique. In the 1930's a small group of German refugees settled mainly in Salisbury (now Harare) and Bulawayo. A community from the Greek island of Rhodes also came.

Approximately 900 Jews now live in Zimbabwe, around 600 in Harare and 300 in Bulawayo. Each has its own synagogues and Jewish day schools.

Zimbabwe Jewish Board of Deputies
PO Box 1954, Harare
Tel 702506

PO Box 1456
Tel 67383

Harare Hebrew Congregation (est. 1895)
PO Box 342, Harare
Tel: 727576

Sephardi Hebrew Congregation (est. 1932)
PO Box 1051, Harare
Tel: 722899

Bulawayo Hebrew Congregation
PO Box 337, Bulawayo
Tel 60829

City of Bulawayo:
Athlone Avenue Cemetery: Hebrew section
Bulawayo cemetery: Progressive Hebrew section

Ref: Kosmin, B.A., Majuta. A History of the Jewish Community of Zimbabwe. Mambo Press, Gwelo, 1980.

Vital Records: Send a letter with the full name, date and place of birth, marriage or death and a bankers draft for 10 Zimbabwe Dollars to:
The Office of the Registrar, Births, Marriages and Deaths
P.O. Box 7734, Causeway, Harare.
National Archives:


The Director, National Archives of Zimbabwe
Borrowdale Road, Gunhill
Private Bag 7729
Causeway, Harare
Telephone: 263-4-792741-3/795695/792744
Fax: 263-4-792398

The Archivist (Manicaland), Embassy Building
Second Street
P O Box 825 Mutare
Telephone: 263-020-63815

The Chief Archivist (Matabeleland)
Bulawayo National Archives
P O Box 2358
Bulawayo Telephone: 263-09-230312

The Archivist (Masvingo)
Old Victoria Hotel
P O Box 895
Telephone: 263-039-64178-9

The Records Officer (Chinhoyi)
Old Chinese Complex
P O Box 1332
Telephone: 263-067-23251/25518

The Archivist (Gweru)
Old Prison Complex
P. O. Box 825 Gweru
Tel 263- 054-24694/ 25021

There are charges for this service and postage fees have to be met by the person requiring information. All correspondence is addressed to The Director of the National Archives. Research not done on researchers' behalf as a matter of policy.


Central Africa countries Genealogy mailing lists

11 June 2006: The e-mail contact address shown below no longer functions. I hope in due course to find an alternative address. R.H.

Below are the Central Africa countries which have Genealogy mailing lists.

To subscribe send a message to:
Put subscribe listname in the body of the message,
e.g.subscribe angola

Angola Equatorial-GuineaSomalia
Burundi Gabon Tanzania
Cameroon Kenya Uganda
Congo RwandaZambia



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