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© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

Seed Service

This special service is roughly equivalent to the traditional practices connected with the planting season, which include, the doctoring of seeds to ensure protection from sorcery and successful harvests. Traditionally, before planting, individuals take their seeds to be “treated” by a traditional doctor so that the harvest may be successful and the seeds protected. A traditional doctor casts his ditaola (bones) to ensure the seeds have not been bewitched, and to”see” what is necessary to protect the seeds from previous or future sorcery - typically by "washing" them.

I attended a seed service at B.U.C.Z. on November 1st, 1978. It was held during the week and had kept being postponed. It started about 9.30 p.m. And was held at B.U.C.Z. 's temporary church as their own in their Moruti's yard was not yet completed. The service commenced as a regular service - individuals (not necessarily members)  had attended to request prophecies on the cause of their various problems.

Then at about midnight after this part of the service ha been completed, the Seed Service commenced. There were clear similarities between Zionist and traditional practices. In the same way that seeds may not be treated by a traditional doctor without the household head's authority, so too with the Zionists. This was announced formally during this Zion Seed Service. Traditional doctors divine with their ditaola (bones) any problems connected with the seeds (past, present or future), so too do Zion prophets prophesy seeds brought to them. Owners of the seeds (in bags) being placed them in the centre of the dance circle. During the following dancing prophets received Moya (the Holy Spirit), which showed them the individual problems.

In the service I attended  the prophecies revealed a similar belief system, for example, one person's Lands had been bewitched by dibeela (buried tabooed objects -in this case a buried foetus). Just as traditional doctors often “wash”  seeds to protect them, so too the Zionists' method includes washing, in this case with Holy Water which was poured into each bag of seeds. The service is described in more detail below.

Examples of the Prophecies “received” at this Seed Service

After some time a male prophet stopped the dancing and said that as he had received the Spirit he had "caught" a woman standing near him, in his Spirit. He wanted her to come closer. He continued that the prophecy showed him the woman's fields, burning with fire. His Spirit told him that this was because that family had trouble with their cattle. The woman concerned answered that it was true that their fields had been burnt, but she had not yet noticed trouble with their cattle. The prophet continued that he had asked his Spirit why he had seen lightning hitting that woman's field. He asked the woman the question. Then he said he would stop there as he said he did not want to concentrate on that as he saw there were many problems with that family.

Next an old woman prophet, who had had the Spirit strongly, spoke. She said that as she had been dancing she had “seen” somebody's seeds in her Spirit. The owner of these seeds was going to have trouble with her leg. (As she spoke she was holding up the particular seeds that she referred to.) The owner's stomach would expand, she would have a terrible headache and feel dizzy. She continued that these particular seeds were causing the members a lot of trouble as they had not come with agreement. One person had wanted to take them to their traditional doctors whereas the woman wanted to take them to the Zionists. She added that these seeds were upsetting their Spirits and causing the prophets to fall on the ground. She continued that these seeds had been "asked" from someone else. The Evangelist continued this prophecy. He said that these seeds were causing problems. They had been given to the present owner by someone who had had them treated by their traditional doctors, and that previous owner had trouble with her intestines and the pains were almost killing her. The Moruti continued that he had "seen" this in his Spirit also, and in fact the previous owner of the seeds was a bad sorcerer who had bewitched the seeds. The people who wanted to plough these seeds lived very close to a traditional doctor with whom they were arguing over land. He had bewitched their seeds so that nothing would grow well and their seeds would not even germinate. He added there had been a time when a woman had miscarried. People had stolen the foetus and buried it in their field, and so bewitched the field to stop anything growing properly. When anything grew it only grew to about two feet high and then became red like the foetus of the dead child, and just like the foetus never matured. There was a lot of blood where the foetus was buried. In that woman’s field there was a Buffalo thorn tree on the Northern side of her field and on that tree there was a bird's nest which looked like a rook’s nest.

The Evangelist next continued; he agreed with this and he added that the traditional doctor had filled this nest with medicine. He could see that the tree was not very big and was still growing.

When a young boy who had brought the seeds answered that he did not really know much but he did know that in the morning a woman had come to their home in Kanye and requested to exchange maize seeds for sorghum. They had not known that the sorghum was bewitched, and had just felt pleased because they had not had any sorghum of their own to

plough. He agreed that it was true that they stayed close to a traditional doctor at their Lands.

The Moruti continued that they should be careful, as that traditional doctor was bewitching them. He could “see” that at the corner of their field there was a slope and a "stream" and that was where that traditional doctor passed when coming to visit them. There was also a woman who was a friend of that traditional doctor. She stayed in the forest and she was the one who took the sorcery from him to bewitch them. He emphasized the problem of that buried foetus and that no sorghum would ever grow in the place where it had been buried. It was their neighbours who had done this. He continued that one time they had even had sorghum ready to thresh on the threshing floor, but this sorghum had turned black and disappeared. They had called the traditional  doctor to “see” what was wrong, but he was the one who was bewitching them. The owners of the seeds were then told to remove them.

Then another prophet said that his Spirit showed him that the owner of one lot of seeds had problems with her legs and shivered; her husband was very worried about this, but the best thing was to treat her seeds with Holy Water and then plant them.

The Moruti continued the prophecy by saying that in his Spirit he did not "see" that, but that they had problems with disagreements and whenever they wanted to plough they had problems with their cattle. Their cattle would become wild and start fighting them. The reason for this was because they had been mixing their cattle with other peoples for ploughing (A common custom among people with only a few cattle of their own), then in the end there had been disagreement leading to quarrels during the division of the cattle. During the last ploughing season a child had been sent by her parents to their fields with sorcery. She had been sent to throw sorcery in front of the plough so that it would be ploughed into the field. When he prophesied these seeds, he just “saw” lightning that would burn their home and no agreement in the home between the seeds of the spouses of the brothers. There was a girl at their Lands and she would end up being drowned (this would be caused by a traditional doctor) and the people sharing the cattle with the~ bewitching them. One of their children would be drowned in their dam at the Lands and another child would be injured by a cart. There was another who was pregnant and he could "see" people crying as she or the baby was going to die.

Then the man who owned the seeds replied that he had heard the prophecies and the Moruti saying he was refusing to take his seeds to the church, but that was not the case. He himself, had decided to do that. Before they had always used bongaka (traditional medicine), but now they had decided to leave it. He agreed to the other points - the sharing of cattle leading to disagreements. During the drought they had moved to near the Chief's dam and then when they moved back, they had had disagreements with the people who had used their dam in their absence. He agreed to the lightning which had struck their house and killed his sister and last-born child and also he said he had a child who was a Motsetsi at the Lands and she had been looked after by another woman who had recently had a miscarriage. The Moruti then asked the man why he had not called him "to close the house" to protect the Motsetsi as the man no longer used traditional medicines.

The Moruti continued that their ox wagon was very wrong and he could "see" that their cattle were very wild and unsafe when being in-spanned. The man agreed to this and the Moruti said the wagon had been bewitched and the best thing would be to destroy it. The old woman prophet then said that she "saw" this man would have a headache and pains under the ribs and in the future he would have T.B..The man agreed to this and said he had pains in his chest. The cattle made him tired and out of breath.

Members brought their seeds and placed them in the middle of the floor beside a candle, and a Bible was placed on top of them. Everyone's seeds were in separate containers, either plastic bags or cloth sacks. A Secretary (who in fact belongs to Bethlehem) was called to read the relevant part of the Bible. She was told to read Leviticus 23, v. 10 and Deuteronomy 28. Then followed a hymn "On the way Christ saw me and he told me to come to him and kneel down at his knees." Then the Evangelist said he had nothing to add to the Bible reading but he wished for success and plenty of rain. God is powerful and He was the one who made things beautiful or ugly. He has the power to stop the rain. From Leviticus we had heard how God has now given us Lands where we can now work, as Batswana, for ourselves.

This was followed by a hymn "Forgiveness of my sins". Then the Secretary was told to read again Leviticus 23 v. 10. This led to another hymn "The voice of Christ, the voice of Christ sings". Next everyone who had brought corn from their harvest was told that they should bring some to the church as is written in the Bible, you should not eat your tithe. A hymn followed before the Evangelist announced that they could only prophesy the seeds of the people whose parents were present, (this is a traditional practice, a respectable traditional doctor will not throw bones unless  the case is brought by the head of the family). People were then told to place their seeds in the centre and, as this was the beginning of the service, he called for the candles to be lit.

Then the Moruti spoke. He repeated that children were not supposed to bring seeds without their parents being present - they must take them to a traditional doctor. He added that they would not read all the relevant parts of the Bible as they had started late and it would take the whole night. He referred to Leviticus 23, v 11.

Next followed a hymn about the Sumerian woman who refused to give to Christ. It was at this point members began to dance around the seeds.

Then they stopped prophesying seeds. Hymns were sung whilst the Evangelist opened each bag in turn and Holy Water was poured onto the seeds to protect them from sorcery and help them to grow well. There was then an ecstatic dance around the healed seeds, during which the old woman received the Spirit again and she said that she "saw"  that when the man's relatives had been killed by lightning he had inhaled a lot of its smoke and that was why he now was having trouble

with his chest. this smoke just rested on his lungs. She said she was asking the congregation to pray for him because when she was prophesying the man and dancing around, she just "saw" a red goat without horns and with a kid, just crossing in front of her. When she tried to discover more about that man's problems, that was all she would "see", so she did

not know if this was a sign for her or for him.

The congregation then sang another hymn which completed the blessing of the seeds (about 2.30am) however the congregation continued until dawn with an normal service of singing hymns, dancing and prophesying when the prophets received the Spirit.

Members and Prophets dance around the seeds. The rest clap and sing Zion hymns. Eventually the Prophets begin to receive prophecies from the Holy Spirit about any problems for the owners and their seeds and also prophecies concerning others present in the congregation. They then reveal the prophecies and those to whom they are directed agree or disagree with what the Prophets have been shown by the Holy Spirit.

The Evangelist opening all the bags of seeds before pouring in drops of Holy Water to protect them and their owners from harmful sorcery and also to ensure a successful harvest.

Receiving their prophecies  from the Prophets following the dancing and hymns to “call” the Holy Spirit