Zion Christian Churches Churches Liturgy Prophets Services Members

© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

This is another church that does not believe in sacrifice. It is led by Mr. Kgomotso Seakolo in Kanye. He holds the position of Mookamedi (Vice Bishop). He finished Standard 4 and did an apprenticeship with a building contractor in South Africa.

Bethlehem is a church which was started in Swaziland in 1939 under the name of "Jerusalem Betheda Church of Christ in South Africa and Rhodesia". Bethlehem in Kanye is a branch of this church, and there are various branches in other parts of Botswana under this name. It is registered in Gaborone at the Ministry of Home Affairs. In Kanye alone there are reputed to be over 1,000 members. Mookamedi Seakolo became a member of this church in South Africa in 1962. He had never belonged to any other church. In 1964 he had become a Moruti. He explained that he had become a Member in the following way. In 1952, when he was 11, his mother had died and his father had disappeared. Even up to this day it is not known if his father is alive or dead. He (Mookamedi Seakolo) had been brought up by his Malome (maternal uncle) and grand-parents but had never been happy. He had led a bad life - had left school and spent a great deal of time at gumba-gumba parties, chasing after girls for himself and for others, and generally wasting time. Then he had become very sick and started to have dreams. In his dreams he had seen the future and had started to be able to predict other people's futures. For example, he had seen that a person would have an accident or would die and then this had later happened. During this period of his life he had been very unhappy.

Then he dreamt that he should become a Christian and that it was God who was revealing the future to him, so he decided to join the church. (This is a typical example of the type of life story described by West of how people become prophets.)

Bethlehem City of Christ Church in Zion - (Bethlehem)

Today Bethlehem is a flourishing church. The church is a large tin-roofed oblong building built by the Mookamedi himself, with the help of members, in his yard. Inside there is a platform at one end with a pulpit in the middle, on which is placed a large candelabra for seven candles. There are shelves on the platform for all the church records and correspondence. People come to stay with him to be healed. They come from all over Botswana, staying in his house until they are cured. It should be noted that this practice is very similar to patients staying with traditional doctors for the duration of their cures. Perhaps a typical case of such a patient may be outlined.

In 1978 I met a certain young woman who was staying with the Vice-Bishop. She told me she came from Barolong Farms and had started to suffer from terrible fainting fits. During one of these she had even fallen in the fire and her leg had been very badly burnt. She had previously been a Roman Catholic but, when she became ill and failed to find help at the hospital, her family who were also Roman Catholic, had advised her to try this church as the Mookamedi was well-known for being able to help people. The congregation had prayed hard for her, and now her fits were much less frequent and less severe. When I saw this young woman early in 1979 she told me that her fits were now rare and only slight, maybe occurring once in two or three months.

The church organization of Bethlehem is similar to Episcopal except that the basic uniform is blue and white rather than green and white.

Women members

Baruti and men members

The Church Choir

Child members

Some of the Bethlehem Kanye members. Bethlehem Church is the green tin-roofed building in the background

Congregation after a Sunday Service

The Baruti (Priests/Prophets), Barapedi (Prayers) and Dikhosa (Door Keepers)

Mookamedi (Vice- Bishop) with Baruti (Priests)

The Vice- Bishop with his wife (Mma Vice-Bishop) inside the church

The Vice-Bishop at the pulpit on the platform, holding his prophecy pole - a palm frond

One of the Baruti (priests) preaching from the pulpit

Vice-Bishop and his wife and daughter after a Sunday service. Bethlehem Church is the green building in the background.