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Opinion | Jan 19, 2019

Gabola -The Only Alcohol Serving Church In South Africa

Pastor Tsietsi prays on the beer before serving
Pastor Tsietsi prays on the beer before serving

The grim terror of the Apartheid system, which blacks were subjected to institutionalized racial segregation, existed from 1948 until the early 1990s. After the fall of Apartheid, like many African countries, South Africa is also experiencing the springing up of mushroom churches.

One of the new churches in the suburb of Johannesburg is called ‘Gabola,’ which means ‘drinking,’ in a local language. The ‘Gabola Church,’ with the motto: “Praise the Lord and pass the libation,” popularity has increased rapidly, with new worshippers or Christians coming every day.

Why? Because the Gabola church encourages drinking instead of prohibiting alcohol and drinking takes place during church service. As churches in Africa increase abnormally, some are making names with bizarre daily undertakings.

It worth to remember the story about an African pastor who sprinkled parishioners with a holy mosquito spray, made them drink motor oil and consulted God by phone, however, despite the Gabola Church’s unconditional naivety and boldness, there is something that the locals really like.

The priest of the new church is a local called Tsietsi Makiti. He harshly condemns all accusations that the church and alcohol are incompatible, arguing that the church may not condemn drinking alcohol, but it also condemns drunks or simply drunk people for whom the doors of the church are always closed.

If a good parishioner who believes in God lives according to the commandments, he just sometimes drinks a small glass or two, even if he drinks a lot. But is this a reason to make him an outcast in church? This is the reason Tsietsi welcomes everyone.

“Those who are called drunkards come to our church. This is a place where people can gather, discuss the Lord, and no one will blame them for drinking alcohol. I just want to say that we have a safe place where no one condemns anyone,” says Tsietsi.

Interestingly, Tsietsi fund his own church, Gabola, only a few months ago, and it already has 500 parishioners and more than 2000 people have decided to join the church and be baptized.

It's necessary to ask: Is it because of the free alcohol many people want to get a baptism in Gabola church? Tsietsi has invented a completely simple and at the same time incredibly popular way of attracting people to his church.

He knows the parishioners' favorite alcohol, in this way, giving baptism with the alcohol the congregation likes best is a catalyst to increase the members of the church.

If you like beer, cider or wine, then the baptism will take place with beer, cider or wine and be ready because pastor Tsietsi will sprinkle you not just with water, but exactly what you like.

During church service before serving the alcohol, Tsietsi prays over the drinks, to make sure that God blesses the drink.

Fortunately or unfortunately, probably, Tsietsi has received invitations, encouraging him to open the branches of the church throughout the country.

"If there were more God in our taverns, we would have been able to witness the word of God to protect people from committing crimes and help people find love in their hearts," said pastor Tsietsi.

Tsietsi prays virtue and practices virtue. At the moment, the meetings of the church of Gabola are held in one of the local taverns, and the host is extremely pleased with the neighborhood.

“As soon as the church appeared, the number of crimes and problems drastically reduced, and there were more people,” says the owner of the tavern.

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Pastor Tsietsi blesses the Black Label Whiskey before serving

Is Tsietsi a man who has a vision and knows what can happen if both men and women are drunk? Many may call this discrimination but Tsietsi knows he is doing the right thing. Women are not allowed to attend the services of the church of Gabola.

"We cannot yet allow women to appear in our services because we cannot be completely sure of the behavior of our worshipers after they have drunk."

"We need more time to form the right behavior among them," says Tsietsi. Children are also not allowed. Even if they are sent by their parents, we just send them back." He concludes.

Joel Savage
Joel Savage, © 2019

Joel Savage is a Ghanaian-Belgian journalist and author. The accredited press-card holder of the Flemish Journalists Association once contributed regularly to the features column of the Daily Graphic, The Mirror, Ghanaian Times and the Weekly Spectator. The writer currently lives in Belgium.,

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