Saturday, April 21, 2007

That's Funny. You Don't LOOK Jewish!

Lumumba hears that all the time. You can tell when it's Friday night or Saturday because he doesn't work on the sabbath, and he dresses in a suit rather than his work clothes. I ran into him last evening (Friday) before dusk and he was wearing faded camo fatigues. His clothes, his face, and his hair were spattered with little drops of beige paint. That's what he does, he paints, and he also does a bit of other "handyman" work as required in connection with the painting jobs.

He drives around in a shiny mid-sized black SUV not more than a couple of years old. He seems to have an assortment of otherwise out of work guys that he uses on these jobs, staying right there and working along side of them to make sure the work gets done correctly.

Often he'll take a late morning break if he's working nearby, and stop at Starbucks for a coffee, but I mostly see him there after work, in the late afternoon or evening. His hair is always in the same spiked style, "locked" into what the Jamaicans would call short dreads or dreadlocks, but somehow it always seems to look relatively neat.

So how did a guy that hails from the Transvaal in South Africa become Jewish? He claims, and there's ample historical documentation to back him up, that his ancestors are one of the "lost tribes" of the twelve tribes of Israel spoken of in the bible. They settled in Ethiopia, where there is still a sizeable Jewish population. His own ancestors, along with others, then gradually migrated south along the east coast of Africa, finally settling in South Africa, where his family owns a large farm in the Transvaal.


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