Zambian religious leader and prophet
Alice Lenshina was the founder of a PROPHETIC MOVEMENT that gathered tens of thousands of followers. In the 1960s she led an uprising against the colonial government in ZAMBIA. Lenshina was born in northern Zambia among the Bemba people. As a young woman, she was preparing to join the Presbyterian Church at the mission center of Lubwa. She failed to complete her religious studies, but she became familiar with the Bible.
Alice married Petros Chintankwa Mulenga and had five children. In 1953, after experiencing several bouts of serious illness, she met with the Reverend Fergus Macpherson at the Lubwa mission. She told him that she had died four times, met with Jesus Christ, and risen from the dead. She said that Jesus had taught her hymns, shown her special religious texts called the Book of Life, and given her certain spiritual powers.
After meeting with Reverend Macpherson, Alice resumed her religious studies. However, she soon left the Presbyterian Church and founded the Lumpa Church, an independent Christian group. She became known as Alice Lenshina, from the Bemba pronuciation of the Latin regina (queen). Her fame as a healer and prophet spread rapidly. By 1959 the Lumpa Church had between 50,000 and 100,000 members and nearly 150 congregations, mostly in northern and eastern Zambia. As Zambia moved toward independence, Lenshina told her followers to withdraw from all secular activities, a move that angered colonial officials and local chiefs. In 1964 fierce battles raged between Lumpa followers and other Zambians. Over 700 people died before army troops stopped the fighting. Many Lumpa were placed in prison camps and others fled the country. Arrested by the authorities, Lenshina was released in 1975 and kept under house arrest in the city of LUSAKA until her death. (See also Christianity in Africa.)