Zion Church of Mozambique took its name from the American town of Zion, located in the state of Illinois. In 1904 Pastor Daniel Bryant, one of the Church’s founders, came from Zion to South Africa for preaching. Firstly, the Church took root in South Africa and then spread to the neighbouring countries with the migrant workers returning home. Nowadays in Mozambique there are dozens of different churches of Zion that don’t communicate with each other. Their followers are called Maziones in local language.
According to belief of Maziones, the evil spirits can possess anyone and should be excelled from the people. The Zion exorcism practices are usually conducted by prophets – special members of the community, who have the authority over demons. The ceremonies take place in the churches during the “nights of healing”, during Sunday liturgies or any day in the open water. In the Mozambican capital Maputo on the five kilometres long “Beach of Maziones” those purification ceremonies are held two times a week – every Thursday and Sunday.
The exorcism practices are always accompanied by the ritual singing and shouting. Most of the times possessed by “evil spirits” people become unpredictably aggressive and dangerous. To protect other members from such violence, priests and prophets tie feet and arms of the possessed people with “tichakachakas” – special ropes that according to the Zion belief have God’s power to hold demons.
In the central Mozambican province of Tete near the Malawian border there is an entire village of Zion Church, called Tchessa. The villagers built a theocratic community that is governed by a 33 year-old prophet Sitifane Waisani. This place is very popular among Mozambicans and Malawians, who go there everyday to be released from the evil spirits.
Many of Zion Church leaders also use an old proven traditional methods of healing. They frequently mix Christianity with African paganism and quite often Zion priests work as witchdoctors.
Mateus Machaka, 53, a priest of the Zion Apostolic Church in Moatize. Tete Province, Central Mozambique
A priest of the Zion Church of Mozambique practicing exorcism in the waters of the Indian Ocean using "tichakachaka" – a special rope, which, according to the Zion belief, has God's power to hold demons
A Zion Church priest conducts a purification ceremony in the waters of the Indian Ocean. Maputo, Mozambique
"Xiwatso" (egg bath) purification ceremony on the Beach of the Maziones in Maputo
A female Zion Church prophet conducts an exorcism ceremony in the waters of the Indian Ocean, on the Beach of Maziones
Possessed by evil spirits, women at the Beach of Maziones scream
Exorcism ceremony in the waters of the Indian Ocean at the Beach of Maziones
Exorcism ceremony in the village of Manje, Tete Province.
Zion Church prophet from Manje village, Elvira Raul Chiko, 32, prays after a spiritual healing ceremony
A deacon of the Zion Church of Manje village puts the Bible on the head of a girl during an exorcism ceremony. Zion Church followers believe that anyone, including children, can have a bad spirit
Zion Church prophets pray during Sunday mass. Moatize, Tete Province
Zion priests at the church entrance in Moatize town
Sunday prayer at Zion Church in Moatize town
A member of Zion Church of Mozambique near the church in the town of Tete
A woman possessed by evil spirits screams in the Zion community church of Matola Rio in Maputo
A female prophet of the Zion Church takes bad spirits from the body of a 2-year-old boy
A deacon during an exorcism ceremony in the Zion Church of Matola Rio in Maputo
A member of the Zion Church before the night exorcism ceremony in Tete town, Central Mozambique
Prophet Sitifane Waisani, 33, performs exorcisms in Tchessa village, which is mostly inhabited by Zion Church members.
Women lying on the ground after the exorcism ceremony
A woman wears her church robe on top of her everyday dress, which features an image of Obama. Tchessa village, Tete Province
Zion priest Saidon Nasone Njeremuka, 81, baptises 12-year-old Kitutu Waisani in a small pond in Tchessa village
Sitifane Waisani, 33, a prophet of Zion Church of Tchessa village. Mozambique-Malawi border, Tete Province
Theocratic community of the Zion Church at the entrance of Tchessa village
Members of the Zion Church carrying a woman who fell unconscious after the exorcism ceremony in Revuboe River, Tete Province
Members of the Zion Church taking an evil spirit from a woman on the shore of the Revuboe River
Zion Church members bathing in the Revuboe River on a Saturday, after the purification ceremony
Zion priests pray on their knees in the rain. Doa village, Mutarara district, Tete Province
Priests pray during Sunday worship at Moatize town
Zion Church priest, Francisco Mukurungwana, 33, during an exorcism ceremony in Tete town
Bishop of the Zion Church of Jerusalem, Saika, 37, during a Sunday sermon to his parishioners
People dance during Sunday mass in the Zion Church of Jerusalem in Moatize town
Possessed by evil spirits, members of Zion Church in Matema neighbourhood of Tete town
During exorcism ceremonies, some Zion Church members who are possessed by evil spirits become unpredictably aggressive and dangerous. To protect themselves from the violence, priests tie possessed people’s feet and arms with "tichakachakas" – special ropes which, according to the Zion belief, have God's power to hold demons
A priest conjured demons, who he said entered the body of his son. Zion Church of the Matema neighbourhood in Tete town
A female member of the Zion Church after being possessed by evil spirits
A member of the Zion Church recovers from the exorcism ceremony
A Zion Church priest conjures water at the beach of Maputo before the beginning of an exorcism ceremony
A female member of the Zion Church after a "xiwatso" (egg bath) purification ceremony on the Beach of the Maziones in Maputo
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