Home ZCC Services Moria

© 2020 Dr Margaret Sheppard


Services are held during the day every Sunday and on two or three evenings a week.  In  Lobatse (about 30 miles from Kanye) there is a Z.C.C. church building, but in Kanye and Lotlhakane, where I attended services in the 1970s & early 1980s, the regular services were held outside a member’s home or under a tree.

The congregation stand in a circle with the men at one end and the women at the other.This is so that the women are not trampled on by the big boots (so it was explained to me). If people dropped out or joined in, the circle formation was kept by dikhosa (door keepers). The services always start with hymn singing, hymns being led by members from the church choir.Then after everyone is there, all kneel down to confess sins and pray simultaneously. Then everyone gets up and hymn singing continues. The women dance, shaking their dance rattles, into the centre of the circle on their side and the men jump hard with their boots. These actions together with the singing make a most beautiful sound, especially in the otherwise silent night air of the Cattle-post or Lands under the starlit night sky.

Everyone must then be purified. This purification can reveal baloi (sorcerers). The water is put into a bucket or can in the middle of the circle and then prayed om by waving the Holy Cloth over it, dropping in pieces of burning Holy Paper and tapping the container with a Holy Stick. Then everyone is sprinkled, in turn, first on the face and front of the body. Then everyone turns around and their backs and soles of the feet are treated. Last of all, the water is   sprinkled    on the palms of their hands and then they each drink a little.

In this church no drums or other musical instruments are used. At times men may come into the centre of the circle and do individual dances. For example, at one service one man came into the centre and walked on his hands, others may somersault etc.

Individuals get possessed with the spirit of prophecy, and then an interpreter will call out of the circle the person they want to prophesy. They will be given their prophecy in secret. At the
end of the service the women leave the circle but the men often continue to sing and dance alone.

The method of dancing is very similar to some traditional dancing of the type that is danced in a circle, and from time to time individuals come into the centre to perform "specialities".

Besides the regular church services there are certain special services held at an individual's home.These may be held at a particular family's home after a Botsetsi, wedding, or for special prayers, or even a sacrifice may be held for troubled homes. I attended two such special services held by Z.C.C., one was a Badimo (for the Ancestors) and the other was for a wedding. In addition I attended part of a Christian wedding held for an elderly couple formerly married by a Setswana wedding.

It will be seen from the descriptions of the three services  in the following sub sections, that there are many similarities between Z.C.C. practices (rituals) and those previously described in the section on traditional practices and beliefs. For example Z.C.C. Beliefs reflect a reverence and respect for Ancestors. Prophets frequently, although stating that their prophecies are from God, also say that they receive them from their Ancestors. The Lekgonyanes and their Ancestors are revered rather like the Ancestors of the traditional Chiefs. Chiefs are also greatly respected, as demonstrated at the wedding in Lotlhakane when all the congregations which were visiting to celebrate the wedding went to greet the Chief. In the wedding for the old people the "new bride" was taken to the Headman's home to be formally "shown" to the senior lady. At Lotlhakane a collection was even made for the Chief and special dances and songs were performed for him.

Again there is a strong belief in sorcery and the purification at the beginning of the service is to protect against sorcerers and sorcery. In the same way that a traditional doctor washes all the family, so also with the Z.C.C. practice where all the family will be called into the centre of the circle to be protected. Just as a traditional doctor may wear special beads to enhance the discovery of sorcery and the position of buried sorcery or to protect himself against its harmful effects, so also do Z.C.C. This was demonstrated when some wore the Scottish costumes and carried little wooden axes and poles so that they would be able to "see" the sorcery whilst at the same time being themselves protected against its potential harmful effects.