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© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

A woman continued her confession saying that she was asking God to look down upon Earth where we are all suffering and having pains; like people being in prison, being hit by lightning. She was putting all these things before God, not only herself and her relatives but all people in trouble. The little she asked from God she hoped would be answered because Christ is the one who answers people's requests quickly.

Many confessions were similar being interspersed with hymns. They asked for prayers for absent (i.e. dead) friends, prayers for their disturbed Spirit. One man referred to how it was a happy day - the children of Christ were coming to wear their beautiful uniforms in the name of Christ, but that he himself was "low in Christianity" as he was "held by evil matters." He had had an accident about two weeks before and his children in Moshopa were very ill. He lived in Gaborone but had had to go to Moshopa because his children were very ill. On the way back to Gaborone his wife had lost the money to buy her new uniform. That was what let him down, there was no one who knew where problems like that come from. It was just a test from Jesus Christ trying to show that something had displeased him (this is  similar to the traditional idea that bad luck can be from dissatisfied Badimo - Ancestors) He continued that he was asking for prayers to help him overcome his problems.

Another man (a Rhodesian) referred to the death of his brother in Rhodesia (this was during the war) but there was nothing he could do because he could not go back to Rhodesia, and even if he could he could not bring his brother back to life. He was asking for prayers to help him overcome his problems.

Another man asked forprayers for his Moruti in Mahalapye who had converted him and "delivered him from the country of Egypt where he had lived like a slave." Now he was together with different people, who were living in Christ. He was putting this Moruti before God so that where ever he goes God should be with him.

Then one of the Baruti from Kanye said that in the Bible in Matthew we read that love of the flesh may bring happiness, but the love of God is everlasting. He said he was thanking God that they had met together with the love of Jesus Christ. He thanked all their parents for allowing them to be Zionists and if it was not for the power of B.U.C.Z. they could not have met together. He now handed over the service to the person who was supposed to lead it, as it was now very late.

Next a visiting Moruti revealed that since he had entered he had had the “pains of prophecy" around his middle and legs. (When prophets receive prophecy they may feel pains). He said there was someone in the church who had those pains and needed to have a strong belt wrapped around the waist. This belt should be made of sacking and should have a white colour inside and it should also have a chain. He could “'see" in his Spirit that this person would be forgiven and the pains would then go, as that person was suffering from the pains within him/her.

The congregation should help to pray for this person so that they could be cured. We should all be in agony like Christ's disciples were when he was crucified. Another leader from Moshopa then referred to how Christ loves a place where there is courtesy, so during the service everyone should behave properly.

After more singing, the Bishop came forward and spoke. He said that when he read the book of Ecclesiastes 3, it says there is time of growing and a time to harvest plants after they have grown. The time was now 2.30 p.m. and as they were about two and a half hours late they should start, as they had a lot of work to do that night. They would be having a uniform service and be giving promotions. He said that in the Book of Peter 5, v 5, it says there should not be many Baruti, therefore if there was a Moruti preaching they should let him preach alone and listen to him. They should not try to compete with each other in knowledge. There should be one Moruti and people should listen carefully to his words. In the book of Ecclesiastes 3, it says that  everything has its own time. He said they were not going to read the chapters as they were supposed to have read them already. They would try and shorten them as they were short of time. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, he was now going back to his position.

The hymn "The Devil has lost his power, the Lord has risen from the Dead" followed. Then the Moruti in charge formally announced the purpose of the service, and hoped that it would not take too long as they were short of time, but they were going to be "as beautiful as the clothes they were going to wear". He called the Dikhosa to come forward and arrange all the new clothes in the centre.

By the central pole there were a lot of prophecy poles and cords, the uniforms were placed on top of these and when people came forward to take their uniforms they sat on top of them.

Members of Church Choirs issued with candles

When it was the turn of the Baruti to be promoted everyone had to kneel in respect. The Moruti in charge reminded everyone that it was not a simple thing to be a Moruti and, as everyone in the church knew, whenever a new one was chosen he was selected by the congregation. So Baruti should be respected where ever they went spreading Christianity, and converting people. They should not be afraid to tell people they were Baruti and if they were teased or their church was insulted then they should stand up for their church. Two people were promoted to Moruti (one from Moshopa and one from Kanye). They were now to be recognised throughout Botswana. Then the Moruti in charge told the congregation that, when the Baruti were being prayed upon, they should sing without beating drums, and during the hymns everyone should kneel down and start praying. When they were given their positions three Baruti were going to pray on their heads

Praying on those with new uniforms

New uniforms

 B.U.C.Z. Church Conference, New Uniform and Promotion and Communion Service

At about 1.30 p.m. while in the middle of confession, the church from Gaborone arrived.

They were given food before they entered. They then entered in the usual way with their Moruti leading, starting a hymn outside which was taken up by those inside, who bowed to welcome them as they processed in a line around the centre. Then we all knelt down and prayed simultaneously. They were formally greeted and it was explained to them that the confessions had already started.

This special service was held at B.U.C.Z. on 30th September 1978 over the Independence weekend. It included the annual church conference so other Botswana branches of this church attended, and miners had returned specially from the mines. New uniforms were issued and promotions were given. It also included Communion. As the Chief's Uncle had just died members left the service to attend the funeral.

This service was held in the new, partly finished, church building in the Kanye Moruti's yard. Previously this church had been holding its services in a small square house in a member's yard, uphill. The church was an oblong made out of traditional bricks to a height of 3-4 feet. (Members had been making bricks during the past weeks.) Sheets of zinc were used to build up the walls. The roof was made of bits of tarpaulin and plastic sheeting supported by poles cut from tree branches and trunks.

I arrived at about 10.00 p.m. The service had not yet started and the Kanye members were still busy cooking. Then at about 11.30 p.m. everyone was given food (meat and samp). After eating we entered the church. Congregations from Lobatse and Moshupa were already present. The service started with hymn singing and dancing.People were placed together by the Dikhosa according to their church rank.

Many of the uniforms of the visitors were particularly colourful, for example one Moruti was wearing a long coat of half blue and half yellow (and a "half hat" of blue and white stars). He had a long chain round his neck and a distinctive method of dancing - a sort of skipping step. As he danced the chain tinkled.

At one end of the room there was a table, behind which sat the Bishop and his wife. They were from Lobatse. The Bishop was wearing long blue robes with a white trim and a blue and white Bishop's mitre

After some time public confessions started. Confessions began with the Baruti. Each one took the usual pattern, first the confessor would greet the Bishop and other church officials down to the Khosa and then the general congregation, children and visitors.

There was very ecstatic dancing during the hymns which followed. The people to receive the uniforms entered the circle and were danced around. Baruti ladies dressed the ladies in their new uniforms, the men being dressed by baptized men. The Moruti in charge then announced that it was time to pray for the people who had received new uniforms. Next the Lady Bishop entered the circle and with her metal prophecy stick prayed over each of them in turn, when each knelt in turn before her. These people then returned to their places.

As each person receives their new uniform, the Secretary reads the Bible story about Job receiving new clothes

The Moruti next announced that they had reached the time for promotions. He said that in the Bible is written that, whenever you do the work of Christ, you should do it with Him and it should be witnessed by the congregation. They should take notice of how people were prayed for, because next time it may be one of them, so they should know how to behave. He did not mean that they wanted the congregation to be afraid to discuss with their Moruti, but they should also respect him. If one does not listen to what the Moruti is trying to teach one, that is when one will go astray, as it says in the Bible "the child that does not hear the Word of the Father, hears the word of the vultures". Also it is written that such a child who breaks the law will be disappointed by God, the one who breaks the law after being a member will be punished suddenly and severely. Again it is written that if one behaves badly like that, God will just break that person like a branch falling from a tree. He emphasized that everyone should behave respectfully.

First he was going to call the names of the people to be promoted,  then he would call them to the centre where they would receive their promotions, after they had been registered. Members knew themselves already, and all congregations had people who were to be promoted. Afterwards they would be prayed upon.

The people receiving promotions then entered the dance circle, all of the same position from the different churches entered at the same time, i.e. all the Dikhosa, then the Secretaries, then the Deacons, Evangelists, Barapedi, and Baruti etc. They were given sashes denoting their positions, for example, Baruti were given green sashes. They sat on a bench in the centre at the front. Both men and women were promoted. Even people who had been acting in their positions in their own church during the year were called, so that all the congregations would recognise their new position.

As each person receives their new uniform, the Secretary reads the Bible story about Job receiving new clothes

Whilst congregation kneel, Baruti pray on their heads.

Sermon - addressed to those who had received new uniforms and promotions

The preacher, expounding on the readings, emphasized to those who bad been promoted that they should behave properly and not expect to be respected when they bad not earned respect. He even gave the example of bow some people were given positions in the church, but as soon as they had left the service one might see a woman with a position going around bare-headed and openly breaking the laws. Others did not even bother to wear their Zion uniform to the church; some bad a tendency of carrying their Zion clothes in a bag or suitcase when they went to church as if they did not like to wear them on the way from home. They just wanted to wear them at the church. But they should know that when they did this it was a sign that they were trying to hide from God and Christ. True members of the church should do what they were supposed to do without hiding. If non-members asked a member what they were wearing they should reply that it was a church uniform as ordained by the Holy Bible. This is a souvenir and members would be buried with it like soldiers were, because they were soldiers of Christ. Ephesians tells the truth about the clothes worn by the members - Christians need to have a special uniform which is chosen by God, referred to in the Bible. Their new uniforms were given by the power of God, through Christ's love.  These clothes would protect them from disease and bad luck (this is obviously comparable to the “protections” issued by traditional practitioners).

Next he addressed himself to those who had uniforms but had left them at home; they should realise that when Christ comes He will forget them. He said that in the Bible it guarantees that these clothes are going to protect the congregation. He hates Christians who are shy of wearing their uniforms or who are shy in other ways. Those have really not understood why they took them in the first place. In the Bible it says that you should wear your Everlasting Clothes, with your rope around your waist for ever - and any other cords (e.g. waist, ankles, neck etc.) He reminded the congregation that they were Batswana, and always saw their elders who were traditional doctors wearing their special symbols  like earrings and beads or necklaces. Such people were respected and may wear them wear them to death. (This is an interesting comparison. With traditional practitioners.)

He continued that when a person is a Zionist he has vowed to be a Zionist for life and should not despise these signs of membership of the church. He complained that some people cut off their cords, but these were supposed to wear out on them. In Revelations it demands that they should wear their uniforms, he reminded them that it says in the Bible that "there is no special time when I'll come, I'll come at any time without warning". Therefore they should wear their clothes while waiting, so that they would be prepared. Then when the Angel comes they will be ready. He reminded them that the disciples of Christ even had cords around their waists. If they (Zion members) were very sick their parents would rush to call their Moruti and he would come with cords that have been prayed for and wrap them around the patient. His Spirit would tell him how to help the patient.( This compares with a traditional doctor "seeing" from his bones. A patient may also move to live with a Moruti; as like one of my informants who suffered from milk coming from her breasts although she was not pregnant nor had a baby, had had to.) Again a member may be prophesied at the church to wear cords.(See Healing Service at Africa for details of an example.)

The Moruti continued that they should always "gird up their loins", as this was a vow to God that they would always be His servant. Here he concluded.

(Holy Communion and Foot Washing followed - details of this part of the service follows in section “Communion”)

Then we sang the hymns "We are praising you our Lord, we are happy in you, you saved us through your Holy Spirit." and "The love is surprising, it is amazing, what can I give to the Lord in order to repay Him? The only thing to give is my Spirit to Christ".

There was one more promotion to Mookamedi Vice Bishop).It was announced that when this man was given his new position he had to be respected because it was a high position, the people who were to dance around him to call the spirit, were those who were baptized and had positions in the church.

Then the hymn "Nations hate Zion" was sung, during which the Bishop prayed on the Mookamedi, and the Moruti in charge announced he would be recognized as a Mookamedi. throughout Botswana. The hymn "We praise the Lord" followed. The Moruti in charge said it was now time to read the Bible before Communion. They would read from Ephesians 6, v. }}-}5 and Revelations 3, v. )-6. A very slow hymn was sung and the Bible was read by the Secretary of the Gaborone congregation. It was then announced that one Moruti was going to preach before Communion.