Though millions of Israelites of Hebrew heritage were taken captive, sold into bondage, and transported to the Americas, there are still remnants of Israelites that reside in regions across the continent of Africa.
The name "Lemba" may originate in chilemba, a Swahili word for turbans worn by some Bantu peoples, or lembi, a Bantu word meaning "non-African" or "respected foreigner". Magdel le Roux says that the name VaRemba may be translated as "the people who refuse" – probably in the context of "not eating with others" (according to one of her interviewees). In Zimbabwe and South Africa, the people prefer the name Mwenye.
Since the late twentieth century, there has been increased media and scholarly attention to the people's claims of partial common descent to the Jewish people. Genetic Y-DNA analyses in the 2000s have established a partially Middle-Eastern origin for a portion of the male Lemba population. Both Arabs and Jews share this DNA, but the Cohen Modal Haplotype, an indicator of Jewish ancestry, has been found among the males of one leadership clan at rates even higher than the general Jewish population.