Zion Christian Churches Churches Liturgy Prophets Services Members

© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

Candles were used in all the services I attended. Usually one is put in the centre of the dance circle and on the table/altar (if used). At more prosperous churches there may be a 7-branched candelabra and, even at an ordinary service, all 7 candles may be lit. At special services such as Setlhabelo (Sacrifice) or Ditapelo (Prayers) many candles will be burnt. The person making the service will provide several packets. Candles may form part of the sacrificial items.

Informants explained that these candles assist the prophets to receive their prophecy from the Holy Spirit, but none mentioned  the role of Badimo  (Ancestors) in this  connection, as stated by West.

Probably this is another example of a church practice learnt in South Africa, which has developed out of South African traditional religions and the been introduced into Botswana where, like drums,- it is not part of traditional religious practice


Candles for Special Services

Many candles are used during a Sacrifice Service.

 Members of the congregation are issued with lighted candles by a Khosa (Door Keeper) when the service moves outside to the sacrificial fire.

Those with lighted candles stand around fire behind the family for whom the service is being held

The candles help to “call” the Holy Spirit  thus enabling the Prophets to  be shown the problems afflicting the family and how they may be resolved

Candles for Special Services. 7 is the typical number for those to be placed on the table for these services

The special coloured candles used for a Matshediso Service (a special service to cleanse close family members connected to a bereavement one year after the death)

Pink candles used for the Botsetsi Service of a baby girl (when the mother and baby are cleansed about 6 months after the birth)

See separate Sections for details of these special services

Plain white candles were readily available in the local shops as they were widely used to light homes as there was no electricity. The more decorative coloured ones could be purchased at the local Pharmacy that catered for Traditional , Western and Zion requirements