Shalom everyone! The following is a lecture given by Professor William F. S. Miles called “Jews of West Africa: Past, Present & Future,” given at the Boston University African Studies Center in 2013. Professor Miles is a professor of political science at Northeastern University. This is a lecture about the history and current conditions of the Jews of West Africa. Professor Miles discusses the Jewish communities found through Western Africa including communities in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal, Mauritania and other territories. There is evidence to suggest that many of the tribes in these territories are descendants of Jewish/Israelite exiles fleeing the various national tragedies to which Israel has been subjected for the last 2,600 years. Many of these groups describe their embrace of Judaism as a re-entry to the Torah way of life, as their ancestors had practiced a Torah lifestyle but it had been lost through forced conversion to other other religions.
The revival of Judaism on the African continent has serious implications for the modern State of Israel as potentially tens of millions of Africans could exercise their right to return if given the recognition. Another implication is that many African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans are descended from these tribes now reclaiming their Jewish/Israelite heritage, specifically the Igbo and Akan peoples of West Africa. Are African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans descendants of Jews/Israelites who fled from persecution into West Africa?
William F.S. Miles | Professor of Political Science, Northeastern University
This lecture, presented on April 8, 2015, is part of the series
Religion in West Africa: Cosmopolitanism, Faith Communities & the Social Fabric
Co-sponsored by the West African Research Association and the Boston University African Studies Center
Jews of West Africa: Past, Present & Future – Professor William F. S. Miles (2015)
Video from West African Research Association/YouTube