Moroka: The rain-making doctor of the Pedi tribe in South Africa

Image source: en.wikipedia,org

One of these rare and powerful individuals is the Moroka of the Pedi tribe in South Africa. Moroka means; the traditional rain-making doctor. The Pedi tribe of South Africa belongs to the Sotho-Tswana major ethnic division.

Their social structure is organized according to their native principle of Kgoro; that is huts built around a core assembly point. They are farmers and keepers of livestock. Among other tribal languages, the Pedi tribe speak Sepedi as their native tongue.

Commanding the coming of rains from the sky is a ritualistic tradition that has been practised by cultures the world over. The Aborigines of Australia are known to have visited sacred sites within their villages to invoke rain when there had been prolonged periods of drought.

The Native American Indians have a dance ritual they perform which is usually led by the tribe’s spiritual head to bring down rain. In southern Nigeria and northern Ghana, traditional medicine-men and witch-doctors are reported to engage in rituals and customs that cause rainfall.

Moroka: The rain-making doctor of the Pedi tribe in South Africa
The Aborigines of Australia engaging in a ritual ceremony.
Image source:

To wield the power to command rainfall is by inference wielding the power to dictate the flow of the natural cycle, as well as climate conditions. This power belongs most probably to the creator, however, the creator’s essence dwells in all of us and that is the reason why certain individuals who have come to realize the power dwelling within them have been able to use it to their advantage and to the benefit of the community wherein they live.

Among the Pedi tribesmen, if a village is struck by prolonged periods of drought, the village head assembles his most trusted advisors including the Moroka himself. Reasons for the assembly include but not limited to; discussions on causes for the drought, how much in goods and/or money the Moroka would accept in recognition of his services and finally what needs to be done to prevent the future occurrence of another long period of drought.

When the assembly dissolves, what remains to be done is up to the leadership of the Moroka.

The Moroka consults with the deities and ancestors to understand the actual cause of the drought. Usually, among the Pedi tribesmen, it is believed that prolonged droughts are caused by conflicts existing between members of the community, particularly members of the royal family. The Moroka upon discovering the root cause of the drought sets out to resolve it before proceeding with the ritual proper.

The Moroka uses either a sacred horn or an arsenal consisting of; a clay pot, a gourd and a grinding stone to command the coming of rain.

Using the sacred horn, the Moroka says a prayer to the communal ancestors, after which he blows it facing the East. There are occasions when the rains come down immediately after the horn-blowing ritual and in other instances, the rains come down days or sometimes weeks later.

The other ritual practice the Moroka employs in commanding rainfall involves the use of a sacred; clay-pot, gourd and grinding stone. The grinding stone is used to crush some selected herbs and the paste is transferred into the clay-pot. Rainwater is poured into the clay-pot containing the crushed herbs and properly stirred till it froths at the surface. When this is done, the Moroka informs the village head and an assembly of virgin boys and girls.

The virgin boys and girls are led by the elders of the village to pour water from gourds unto the corners of the village, whiles striking the ground with sticks in the process in order to invoke the coming of rain.

After the water-pouring ritual, the virgin boys and girls visit the village corners again chanting; ‘rain’, ‘rain’, ‘rain’! Again, the rains tend to pour instantly, but can also last a few days to weeks even, depending on how effective the rituals were and also as to whether the underlying causes were properly dealt with.

The Moroka of the South Afrikan Pedi tribe is one who is chosen and nurtured from birth by an elder Moroka to walk the path of a traditional rain-making doctor, and so he seldom fails at his task.

A Nigerian maker of rain.
Video credit: YouTube.

The Afrikan and persons of Afrikan descent in view of this must recognize the power within the heritage entrusted into our hands, and make highly conscious efforts to salvage whatever is left of them so that we can have in possession something of greater value to give unto the ones who are yet to come.


ReShel, A. (2017). The Indigenous Art of Rainmaking. Uplift.

Semenya, K. D. (2013). The Making and Prevention of Rain amongst the Pedi Tribe of South Africa: A Pastoral Response. Herv. teol. stud. Vol 69 (1).

South African History Online. Pedi.

Last Edited by:Victor Ativie Updated: May 26, 2020


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