Lenshina Mulenga, Alice
c. 1925 to 1978
Leader of Lumpa Church in Zambia.
In 1953 Alice Lenshina-as she was popularly known-claimed to have died and had a vision of Jesus during which he showed her a book of life, taught her a number of hymns, and told her to act against witchcraft. She reported all these to the missionary in charge of the Scottish Presbyterian mission at Lubwa, near her home village of Kasomo. At first the Presbyterian Church treated her with sympathy, and she was baptized in November 1953. She began preaching to large crowds, urging them to destroy their traditional fetishes. But growing disagreement with the Presbyterian Church led to her suspension in 1955, together with that of many of her followers. In the period before Zambian independence, Lenshina-possibly at the behest of the colonial government-urged her followers to tear up their party political cards. This led to clashes with the emerging UNIP party of Kenneth Kaunda, during which several hundred people were killed. As a result, Lenshina and many of her followers were detained, and the movement banned. She was released in 1975. Her movement, already on the decline by the time it was banned, never recovered, though tiny pockets of it remain.
T. Jack Thompson
W. M. J. van Binsbergen, "Innovation and Political Conflict in Zambia," African Perspectives 2 (1976) and Religious Change in Zambia (1981); Arie N. Ipenburg, The Presbyterian Mission and the Eastern Bemba (1984); Fergus Macpherson, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia (1974); Robert I. Rotberg, "The Lenshina Movement in Northern Rhodesia," Rhodes-Livingstone Journal 29 (1961): 63-68.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.