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© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

This service was held by Episcopal Church at the home of one of their members, who with his sister was to be cleansed after the death of their parents. Other congregation were invited to observe and sympathize.

I arrived at about 11.00 p.m. Some visiting churches had already arrived. The Baruti all sat on chairs behind a table at one end of the room. On the table were 7 candles (blue, green and white ones). The rest of the congregations sat on the floor according to their positions. As each church arrived, the Moruti in charge affirmed on behalf of the whole church.

The Mookamedi (Vice Bishop) of Episcopal was in charge of welcoming them and apologised that the house was too small, but they would try and ask for another house to use later on. He announced that that night the service had a double purpose, Kapolo and Matshediso. The time for Matshediso had really passed as this customarily follows close to a  the funeral), and so they were combining it with Kapolo. They were going to do both of
the services that night because the important Baruti who were to conduct the service were shortly going to South Africa so, if it was not done then, they would miss the opportunity. He explained that the people for whom the service was being held were not yet present but that their father had died one year and their mother the next, so they had been in mourning for both parents. The time was now 11.45 p.m.

First they would pray then they would do Kapolo followed by Matshediso. We then all knelt down and prayed our own prayers of confession, followed by "Our Father", then stood up as a hymn was started.

The Mookamedi then continued that with that service they would like to show people who had never been to a Zion church before, the way the Zionists do their work. The Matshediso Service was when the Spirit was leaving the body so they wanted to do it properly. He said that we should learn all these things on Earth because there is a hymn that says "Let's learn about Christ while we are on Earth". We should study everything about Him so that we would already be used to His work by the time we reached Heaven. He said that .Zionists must do their work properly when for example they hold a Botsetsi, Matshediso or Burial.

Whenever a Zionist is dead they (Zionists) are the ones responsible for the burial. They must learn these things so that whenever they do their work people should feel that they have done it properly. Whenever these things were done they should be done according to the Word and done as it was said there (i.e. in the Bible), using actions so that this could help to advertise God's name. Even if it was a long time since the parents of these people had died (in this case about one and a half years before) they repeated their apology, but it said in the Bible that whenever you do that work you should be an example so: even if those patches and the head scarf had become very old, the service could still be done using something to represent them. He then asked for water in a bowl, and explained that they would be conducting the service as it was written in the Bible.

He explained that many people had different beliefs - traditional doctors, Zionists, other churches - sometimes they did not believe that they were safe unless they were cleansed by a traditional doctor. But God, when he made the law, sent Aaron and Moses to show people the way. The Mookamedi then asked for seats for the brother and sister to be brought forward. He added that Simon Peter who, after Christ had washed his hands and feet, had thought he was not cleansed and asked for his whole body to be washed. But Christ had replied that if his hands and feet were cleansed then his whole body was cleansed with Christianity.

He then called for a Moruti from another church to be responsible for praying on the heads of the brother and sister, after he himself had finished taking off their clothes (i.e. the patches and head scarf). He also wanted the Barapedi men and women from all the churches to help to pray on top of these people as Moses had done when he had finished his work.

Then the hymn "Christ, do visit them, your children" was sung while a Moruti of Galilee church prayed on the brother and sister. At this point some more churches arrived and so the purpose of the service was again formally announced for their benefit, and their Baruti affirmed on behalf of the whole of their congregations. Then the Episcopal Mookamedi added that all the churches should choose their Baruti to represent them - the ones who always took charge during the death or when someone was ill. i.e. the ones who were able to work hard to save a life. He explained that mostly in their services they liked to read the Bible first so that people could listen to it while they were still fresh. Then further hymns followed.

At this point the Secretary of Bethlehem was called to read from the Bible. He read Numbers 8, v. 1-3, during which reading, the candles were lit. Then the Episcopal Moruti explained that, when this service as done properly, the owner of the service is the one who chooses the men and the women to be in charge.  There is a part where only women are responsible for women, and men for men. The Secretary was told to read Nehemiah 8, v. 1-5, where Ezra the scribe was called by the people to read from the laws of God given to Moses. The Moruti mphasized that. as we had heard in the Bible, this law of God was read on the first day of the seventh month. They had made a mistake themselves because they had not been prepared to do that service then, as everyone was scattered in different places.  He was quite sure that that was the law that had been given to Moses. But on this day the brother and sister would be giving up their mourning clothes and, as he had already said, women would deal with women, and men with men, according to the law. He then invited the Morning Star Moruti to be the one to take the "clothes" off the man and to use the water in the bowl to wash him. He requested women to help them with the woman. He said that this would take place as the Bible was being read.

The Bethlehem Secretary was then told to read Zechariah 3, v. 3-4 (about when Joshua's filthy clothes were removed). As this was read the blue patch was taken off the man and put on the table by the Baruti, and a blue duek and patch were taken off the woman. While a hymn was sung, the man and woman were both cleansed, the two "washers" using water from the bowl to wash their hands and feet while Exodus 40, v. 10-13 (about the cleansing of Aaron and his children) was read. They were also given some water to drink.

Then the Episcopal Moruti explained that they really liked to heal a person properly in public after death so that those who despised the Zion way of healing could really see that they did it thoroughly. After another hymn, the Secretary was told to read about what Moses had done after he had finished his work, (in Exodus 40, v.13-IS); as this was read the woman was dressed in her new Zion duek. Next the hymn "Jesus is my shepherd, why do I worry" was sung, during which the brother and sister shook hands with everybody present. This was to show they were now cleansed and could mix freely. It was then announced that the DiKhosa (Door Keepers) should go and check if the house that was to be lent, was ready.

During some hymns we left for the other house, with the Mookamedi (whose house we were to use as it was larger) leading, followed by other Baruti and the rest of the congregation.

When we arrived, the Mookamedi said it was a pity that this work was not done during the day so everyone could have seen that the Zionists were able to heal after a death (it was believed f this was not done properly a person could become senile in old age).

The service was then handed over to the Gali1ee Moruti. A hymn was sung and then the Secretary of Bethlehem was told to read Job 42, v. }}-}6. This describes how everyone came to sympathize with Job in his misfortune, bringing him gifts. After a further hymn he announced that it was now the beginning of the Matshediso Service and, as they had heard in the Bible from Job, it tells how Job, the servant of God, was in agony and his friends and relatives came to him for Matshediso (to sympathize) and to witness the bad things that had happened to him, and as they had come they had brought presents. He was quite sure that they had come in this way, with presents. He was quite sure they were coming hat day to pray and cry with Job. They should know that God would save Job so that he could live longer.

After Job had been saved by God, he had lived in prosperity for a long time and his livestock had prospered. After further hymns the Moruti handed over the service to the Secretary of Episcopal , but, as the Secretary was not present. the Episcopal Khosa took over. He called all the Secretaries to the table and announced that as each church's name was called their Moruti should come and present their envelope while that congregation led a hymn.

The Secretaries went to the table. Head Mountain was the first church to be called. Their Moruti started a hymn. Then one of the Secretaries explained that this was not a Botsetsi Service but a  Matshediso. so each church should just present its envelope when it was called, but not do anything extra. like putting money to "open" or "close" an envelope. This practice was only for times of happiness. The hymn continued with Head Mountain singing.Their leader announced that with St he closed the envelope. This led to an "argument", the Mookamedi of Episcopal repeated that they could not do that because it was not a Botsetsi but a Matshediso. This discussion continued for some time. The leader of Head Mountain maintaining that, as they had not known, some people still had money to contribute because they were intending to give it as bets (as at Botsetsi) but they would not now be able to give it.

The Moruti of Episcopal agreed to this but said that that practice could not be done on this sad occasion, but only at Botsetsi when they were happy. The Head Mountain Moruti agreed to this but as they had made a mistake they should continue like that for that one day so that people would be able to contribute all the money they had brought. The Episcopal Khosa also asked to be forgiven, he had messed up the service, but as they had already started like that the best thing would be to continue with betting. The churches had already sealed their envelopes and when they closed them they had not put all their contributions inside because they had believed they were going to bet with them and so now, if they did not continue with betting as at Botsetsi, then people would return home with their money.

The Mookamedi of Episcopal answered that they were not supposed to make mistakes when they knew they were wrong because it meant that people would copy them and make mistakes in the future. Some people had not seen this service before and would copy their mistakes and, when they were asked why they were conducting their own Matshediso services incorrectly, they would reply that they had seen it being done like that at so and so's home. He would not mind at all if the Secretaries tore open envelopes, to preserve the law (i.e. the way of doing Matshediso). He referred to a Setswana proverb "the one who does not hear the law of his father will hear the law of the eagles." In their church they had already agreed on what to do. They had started wrongly but now they realised their mistakes. Even if they had been going to have P20 and would now only receive PS they could still not disobey the law. They had to do things according to the rules because there were many people who were suspicious of Zion churches and, if they did not do their work properly, that was when they would give people who despised them a chance to criticize them. Although they had been Zionists a long time, they might not have understood everything, so they should rely on the Word. Then when people disagreed with them they would be able to answer them properly in defending their actions and practices. Even if they only made mistakes on that night they should know that it was wrong and unacceptable in Zion Church and they would not make that mistake again. Zionists
should know that on a day of Matshediso it was a day of agony, not laughter. People had been confused because they had had to mix the two services Kapolo anQ~Matshediso on the same day. But betting and competition between churches was only for Botsetsi, when they were happy. To do that at this service would give non-Zionists the opportunity to say that they treated a time of sorrow like a concert or a function, because whenever you went to their churches it was money. That kind of thing would really spoil the name of their churches. (Zionist always tried to be very careful of their image to non-Zionists). Then he started a hymn "We praise you the Lord, we are happy in you because of your protection".

The Secretary asked what they should do as Head Mountain had brought an envelope and closed it with St. The Moruti of Head Mountain answered that when a person made a mistake they should not continue.
You had to correct yourself before it became worse. Therefore if the people from his congregation had more money to present they should bring it and put it on the table. He said "Bring those presents to Job and
put them on the table, even if they are an earring or gold, they should be put on the table." Then the congregation of Head Mountain did this and their Moruti started a hymn "Through the Lord, we are happy in you."

After this each church was called in turn, and placed their money quietly on the table, first answering their name with a hymn. This took some time then, during more hymn singing, the Secretary counted the money and the Moruti of Galilee told the congregations to sit down so that we could hear how much each church had brought to Job. The Secretary of Bethlehem announced:

Head Mountain P2.05   

Africa absent

Holy Galilee P2.00

B.D.C.Z. P3.10

God is Love absent

Episcopal P 12. I I

Morning Star P3.20

New Israel PI.05

Bethlehem P3.98  

Total = P26.49

Then the Secretary of Bethlehem handed the service back to the Mookamedi of Episcopal who requested they should re-announce all these figures in the old way as some people did not understand pula. This total was then re-announced as £13. 14s 9d. He thanked God for keeping them safe that night and for the money, which was also from God. Everything was from God in the name of Jesus Christ. He said that as the time was now 3.55 a.m.,  he would like to know if any churches needed to leave early, so that they might be served first with the food that was prepared. Those who wished to remain were welcome as they had not yet danced that night. First he would like to give the owner of the service a chance to speak.

The owner thanked all the churches and the congregations. It did not matter if they had had disagreements because everyone had behaved and they were happy to be corrected in their mistakes. He wanted to think that because they were Christians they were polite to each other. He felt that on the Day of Judgement he would be saved because he had seen that night that he had helpers. When he died he would be quiet (i.e. his Spirit, but also when he was a Badimo) because people would gather to sympathize with his family. (This is a revealing speech as it also suggests that part of the reason for the service was to satisfy the Badimo of his parents.)

He wished them all to live well and grow with their children like Job, as they had heard that he had been given good luck and lived well with his children to a great age. He again thanked them in the name of Christ. Then he started a hymn "We thank you our Lord. Nations hate Zion and prefer Darkness".

The Mookamedi next announced that he had asked the Evangelists to pray for the plate of money and then it should be presented to the owners of the service. Then they would continue as a normal church service until they ate. He started a hymn "Zion Amen", during which the Evangelists all raised the plate of money into the air and prayed for it, and the brother and sister were presented with it.

Then followed about 20 minutes of dancing and singing and the Moruti of B.U.C.Z. called the people requiring a prophecy to the centre. The service continued as a normal service until about 6.30 a.m. Then the Mookamedi of Episcopal asked permission to interrupt. At first he had wanted to serve those who had furthest to go first, but now he was not sure what to do. He thought the best thing to do was to take the heads of all the churches and other men and serve them first, later the women. All the churches would eat together. He asked the Dikhosa to help him to carry all the chairs back to the original house where the food was served; Dikhosa should also help to serve the food.

We then returned to the other house, and with all the women we sat on the floor in one house in the owner's yard where we were served with tea and fat cakes.

We finally left at 8.00 a.m.

Matshediso and Kapolo Service -

(Service to show sympathy and to take off the signs of mourning thus cleansing away pollution from contact with death).