Some women of Sapitwa who are basically healers who trek to Mulanje Mountain for offerings and other spiritual issues will tonight offer mapira (sorghum) sacrifices in an unidentified place on the mountain as they wait for what they call their nthanda yaku m’mawa which is their star from the east although another definition is the morning star but theirs sounds like Sirius.
This very bright star is expected to appear around the stroke of midnight and can easily be mistaken for firecrackers when visible. The star appeared above Blantyre last year in 2012 at exactly midnight sparkling brightly.
For the ancient healers of Malawi, this star was the same shape as their “primitive” African cross of the 4 winds of North, South, West and East and they played on this by associating all from the East as being from Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) now drawn with ufa woyera (white maize flour).
This star in ancient Malawi was associated with a female spirit of Sapitwa whose name remains hidden for now. According to a female Sapitwa healer, their star now symbolizes the birth of a new year.
Meanwhile, the unofficial Wikipedia online describes the Dogon people of in Mali, West Africa, reportedly having “traditional astronomical knowledge about Sirius that would normally be considered impossible without the use of telescopes.
“ According to Marcel Griaule‘s books Conversations with Ogotemmêliand The Pale Fox they knew about the fifty-year orbital period of Sirius and its companion prior to western astronomers. They also refer to a third star accompanying Sirius A and B. Robert Temple‘s 1976 book The Sirius Mystery, credits them with knowledge of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. This has been the subject of controversy and speculation,” further reads the Wikipedia.
And in the religion of the Serer people of Senegal, the Gambia and Mauritania, Sirius is called Yoonir from the Serer language.
“The star Sirius is one of the most important and sacred stars in Serer religious cosmology and symbolism. The Serer high priests and priestesses, (Saltigues, the hereditary “rain priests”) chart Yoonir in order to forecast rain fall and enable Serer farmers to start planting seeds. In Serer religious cosmology, it is the symbol of the universe,” adds the unofficial Wikipedia.
Despite the myths and tales associated with the suspected Sirius star, science seems to confirm only one fact; that it is expected to appear today just like other New Years.
According to Earth Sky science news http://earthsky.org/tonight/star-sirius-torchbearer-of-the-new-year “Sirius in the constellation Canis Major – the legendary Dog Star – should be called the New Year’s star. This star – the brightest one in our sky – celebrates the birth of 2014 and every New Year by reaching its highest point in the sky around the stroke of midnight. That’s the case this year, and every year.”
The same websites states that “Sirius is highest in the sky at midnight every New Year’s. Astronomers call this a midnight culmination of Sirius.
“So Sirius will reach its highest point in the sky at midnight New Year’s Day, at the birth of the New Year. Look for Sirius – at midnight culmination – highest in the sky around midnight every New Year’s Eve!,” further reads the same Earth Sky website.
Happy New Year everyone no matter what your religion or beliefs are…much love and peace and good to know this land once had “primitive” science so much respect to the female Sapitwa healers for their knowledge!
History is the long gone past which will never ever come back again but one where some learn valuable lessons or just document things as part of the ancient history. We are all the same and similar as part of the human race living on beautiful earth.
All countries in the world including in Africa have an ancient history with many like nomads travelling all over the place before borders were created. Some of our ancestors travelled from elsewhere and settled in this ancient land of Malawi etc and nothing wrong with that. In ancient Egypt just like in other ancient African, western and eastern countries there were kings whom many of us call pharaohs and usually viewed as evil.
But were all of ancient Africa’s Kings and Queen evil people?
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the rulers of all Ancient Egyptian dynasties. The title originates in the Egyptian term pr ˤ3, literally “great house”, describing the royal palace partly reads the unofficial online encyclopaedia known as Wikipedia.
Pharaoh, meaning “Great House”, originally referred to the king‘s palace, but during the reign of Thutmose III (ca. 1479–1425 BC) in the New Kingdom, after the foreign rule of the Hyksos during the Second Intermediate Period, became a form of address for the person who was king and the son of the god Ra. “The Egyptian sun godRa, considered the father of all pharaohs, was said to have created himself from a pyramid-shaped mound of earth before creating all other gods.” (Donald B. Redford, Ph.D., Penn State) , further reads the Wikipedia.
From the twelfth dynasty onward the word appears in a wish formula ‘Great House, may it live, prosper, and be in health‘, but again only with reference to the royal palace and not the person. Likewise throughout ancient Africa royal families belonged to royal houses including this ancient land of Malawi.
But the question remains on whether or not there were any good ancient kings of Africa or were they all bad?
According to a book about the Nile valley, one of the earliest kings of ancient Egypt was King Narmer (Menes) in the Old Kingdom 3150 BC of Dynasties 1-2.
Other kings in the Old Kingdom, pyramid age include Zoser and Unas from 2630 BC till 2323 BC. In the Middle Kingdom there is Mentuhotep II and Senwosret between 2040 BC and 1897 BC while online the ancient Egyptian kings of the New Kingdom include King Ahmose from 1550 BC, Thumose I of 1504 BC, Hatshepsut as the first female pharaoh in 1473 BC, Amenhotep III 1391 BC, Amenhotep IV 1353 BC and Tutankhamen in 1333 BC.
Others include Seti I 1306 BC, Rameses II 1290 and Piye of 750 BC, Shabaka 712 BC and Taharqa 690 BC till online sources list Cleopatra VII 69 BC and then Augustus Caesar in 30 BC reportedly claiming Egypt as a “province of Rome” according to an article that needs additional citations on the unofficial Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egypt_(Roman_province)?
Can those who are learned and educated or familiar with the valuable and historic beautiful land of Egypt please teach us and verify or describe as false some online information about the so-called “Roman province of Egypt pronounced Aegyptu in Latin supposedly in 30 BC?
In this part of Africa there were also ancient kings including this ancient land but unfortunately there is not a single book listing the names of ALL the ancient kings of this land whom we can suppose would be the equivalent of Traditional Authorities (TAs) today with areas named after their names.
We do hear of some but apparently there are more whose names some Sapitwa healers have been keeping secret till now while others have chosen not to publish,.
Once I clarify the spellings of some names I’ve managed to get and double-check with culture experts and some chiefs, I will publish the names of all ancient kings or chiefs of this land before colonialisation because these are some of the secret words or names ancient healers used to invoke when sending requests to Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) since in their “primitive” minds they assumed royal spirits were close to the Creator. We know better today in our God-fearing nation.
I will attempt to publish every single name of ancient in my upcoming book once I figure them out and verify the information. Assist me on this journey with your knowledge and wisdom because I’m not that educated with a Diploma in Journalism, thanks.
Tired after walking a long distance in the hot October sun some seven years ago, a middle-aged woman almost falls when a bright light hits the roof of a building temporarily blinding her eyes.
As she looks down she sees all these red spots and remembers lessons in schools about prisms, white light and how the red waves are the longest or something like that.
When she looks up she is greeted by a very friendly watchman at the gate of her destination in Blantyre. Unknown to her, the occupants of the house don’t have a watchman.
However, the tired mother could not help but notice the eccentric watchman with a neatly cut beard and tidy dreadlocks hidden in a black fedora. She recalled how without saying a word his eyes showed kindness and love, rare for pedestrians trying to visit high-profile places with guards.
Chances are high the friendly watchman was just genuinely God-fearing and had pure love in his heart and soul.
Eyes and their shapes have played an important role in African society with some beliefs associating witches and wizards with wide owl ones in contrast to slanted pigeon and dove ones.
In ancient Africa pigeons represented peace and were said to flee a home where there is conflict and constant arguments. A type of mphonda in the pumpkin family is placed by some healers near a village pigeon’s “home”.
Some mphonda are like African Wine Kettle gourds locally known as nsupa while others include gourds similar to the basket shape one on http://www.seedman.com/Gourds.htm
In Malawi, Mbona is known for his right protruding eye while ancient Egypt information online shows that the right eye of Horus, son of Osiris and Isis represented concrete factual information controlled by the left brain while the left eye controlled the right brain, dealing with esoteric thoughts and feelings responsible for intuition.
In the Ulendo Series Mtunda 8 Chichewa for Standard 8, in the tale, Mbona’s red eyes on p37 is described as sticking out like a snake. In ancient times, the ancestors of this land did not view all snakes as evil but goat spirits.
Healers and other spiritual enlightened people were said to either have the right eye of an upright snake or the left eye of a goat which was considered evil.
In ancient Malawians teachings the eyes for seeing spiritual issues and spirits was believed to be in the heart, globally known by some as the “seat of the soul.”
It’s with those “eyes” that some Sapitwa healers like saying “ndakuona (I see you)” whenever they catch a person in the spiritual realm doing something evil like using magic to rob or harm innocent people.
They claim they can see the physical world with their two eyes but they use the eyes of their hearts to see the spiritual world or spirits so they say. For them it’s like removing a cloth of one’s face to enable them see things of the spirit closely in dreams or visions (masophenya) could that be the reason for the saying “Kadaona maso mtima suyiwala” which in a nutshell means something like “seeing is believing” but literally something like what the eyes has seen the heart does not forget?
The Eye is also attributed to Masonry with the all-seeing eye representing God referred to as the Great Architect of the Universe. Internet sources also show that the Eye of the Providence is a symbol showing an eye often surrounded by rays of light and usually enclosed by a triangle. It is sometimes interpreted as representing the eye of God watching over humankind.
However Bishop Mark Kambalazaza of Charismatic Redeemed Ministries in an interview on August 29, 2010 cautioned that in ancient Egypt, the eye only represented a god watching over people who cannot hide because he sees them. But he asked whether it was the “God of Jesus Christ or just an imagination.
“In Egypt there were gods and goddesses. The true God in the scriptures is the God of Jesus Christ, the way and life and truth as indicated in John 14:6-7. Looking at Big Brother and the eye of God, what happens is not religious or spiritual, it’s secular. There is o morality or eye of heaven. King David in Psalm 139 said there was no way he could hide from God, in the sea or mountain showing He watches,” explained Bishop Kambalazaza back then.
There is also a popular saying globally that liken the eyes to the windows of the heart and biblically Matthew 6:22-23 talks of the lamp of the body being, the eye.
Jesus Christ in various internet biblical verses says: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
According to the US based Got Questions Ministries online, Jesus meant that since the eye is a lamp which lights the entire body, “our eyes are the entrance to our hearts and minds and as such, they provide a doorway to our very souls.
“Our eyes can be used to see that which is good or evil, that which is beneficial or harmful and the things we see and perceive affect our whole being. If we perceive goodness, that will radiate outward from within our hearts and minds. But if we allow our eyes to linger on evil, we are so affected by what we see that darkness actually begins to emanate from within and can corrupt us and those around us.
“The Bible tells us that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. That’s his great deception, to make people think they’ve found the light when in fact it’s the darkness of false light (2 Corinthians 11:14). His intention is to blind us to truth and corrupt our minds, and he uses our eyes to gain entrance to our hearts…we guard our hearts and souls by guarding our eyes,” partly reads www.gotquestions.org
So as Bette Milder sang some 20 years ago that “God is watching us” in her Grammy Award winning song ‘From a Distance’, the question would be whether or not drawings of the Eye of God watching us are the Almighty One’s and only Creator or weaker gods in various ancient religions.
Visiting rural Malawi, one cannot help but notice some herbalists talking of “zwangendaba” as a medication to cure stomach ailments including ulcers and not necessarily the name of the famous 1800s Ngoni King.
According to a few Mulanje-based traditional healers, “zwangendaba” is made from a yet to be identified rock, and is administered best when eaten with nsima and for “magic” tricks involving spirits to make fire after rubbing hands with glycerin, vaseline or oil.
Such nyanga healers who use horns and charms for matsenga (magic) rituals also claim to use the power of three spirits to help them create fire with their hands and out of their mouth.
However for others like the street vendor one in the photo who claims to use (spirits) and seems to rub his body with fire, they do not reveal how they do their fire tricks but clarify they use good from the Creator to perform the trick.
As for the fire making ones, they take the dark pounded looking powder and rub it into their hands to create fire claiming it’s a fire of rock? For some reason their hands don’t seem to burn with the heat.
In a brief revelation they admitted they name many rocks after dead kings making some suspect they might be following ancient teachings of royalty being close to Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) and surrounding Him.
Some experts in Malawi Traditional Medicine suspect that zwangendaba is actually sulfuric acid for making fire because it contains sulfur reportedly also found in meteorites; rock pieces that fall from space to the ground.
However, more research needs to be done by professionals in the field to establish what exactly these healers use to make fire and cure stomach ailments and if they are right then that is ancient African science as well.
The names of suspected various stones or rocks they claim to use also needs to be known and young healers like the one in the photo studied and documented if they are willing to talk.
According to the unofficial online encyclopaedia, the Wikipedia, sulfuric acid also known as sulphuric acid is a highly “corrosive strong mineral acid with the molecular formular H2SO4.
“It is a colorless to slightly yellow viscous liquid which is soluble in water at all concentrations. Sometimes, it may be dark brown as dyed during industrial production process in order to alert people to its hazards. The historical name of this acid is oil of vitriol.
Another website defines sulfur as a homeopathic medicine adding that it has been used medicinally since the ninth century when people would burn sulfur to help purify and disinfect their homes.
“In homeopathy, sulfur is used to help treat a wide variety of ailments relating to the digestion, skin and both men’s and women’s health issues. The key symptoms that indicate the use of sulfur as a homeopathic remedy are: predisposition to laziness, a tendency to feel over-heated, a general attitude of impatience and an inclination to be self-absorbed.
“A 6C dose of sulfur when symptoms are acute is used for digestion problems such as a bloated stomach and ulcerative colitis that potentially can accompany burning pains. Symptoms will frequently become better when eating cold food and drinks and will generally worsen upon overexertion and upon consuming milk,” reads one online source.
On the other hand English translations of the Bible commonly refer to burning sulfur as “brimstone”.
Encyclopaedias also show that in the Ebers Papyrus, a sulfur ointment was used in ancient Egypt to treat granular eyelids and sulfur was used for fumigation in pre-classical Greece.
However, in the King James Bible version, sulfur is used for destruction, including in Ezekiel 38:22, which reads: “And I will plead against him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire and brimstone.”
Revelation 14:10 also talks about being tormented with fire and sulfur and in Revelation 19:20 the beast and the false prophet were thrown into the “lake of fire that burns with sulphur”.
Other references to sulfur or brimstone include Revelation 21:8, which reads: “But for the cowardly, unbelieving, sinners, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their part is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur which is the second death.”
In Isaiah 30:33, “the breath of the Lord like a stream of sulfur kindles it” and in Luke 17:29 “on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulphur rained down from heaven and killed them all.”
Besides brimstone, gemstones have also been viewed in awe in every civilization and sought after. Internet sources also show how many supernatural powers have been attributed to precious stones throughout the ages.
These include crystals and diamonds also mentioned in the Bible, including in Ezekiel 28:13 which reads: “You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz and diamond, beryl, onyx and jasper, sapphire, emerald and carbuncle, and crafted in gold were your settings.”
People, even today, wear stones as amulets for their suppose healing and protective abilities. But Hannah declares there is no Rock like our God in 1 Samuel 2:2.
“All power belongs to God. Gemstones are all God’s creation. Romans 1:20 says since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. Stones in themselves have no power, but they do speak of the power and glory of our God,” readswww.preciousstonesofthebible.com.
The site also explains how in Exodus 28:21 the Lord ordains precious stones to be used in the making of the breast-piece of the High Priests’ garments including topaz, emerald, sapphire, jasper, onyx, agate, amethyst, ruby known as the “king of the gems” and agate which in Hebrew is know as shebo literally meaning “to flame, split into tongues.”
Zechariah 9:16 says that the Lord’s people will be like the stones that adorn the foundation of the New Jerusalem.
In Matthew 13:45, Jesus Christ described the Kingdom of heaven like “a man looking for fine pearls and when he finds one that is unusually fine, he goes and sells everything he has, and then goes back and buys that field.”
Revelation 21:21 on the New Jerusalem indicates “the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each gate was made from a single pearl.”
Pearls are known as the only gem formed within a living organism known as an oyster.
However, some years ago on September , 2010 Father Samuel Malamulo, as a lecturer in Biblical Studies at St Peters Major Seminary in Zomba said the verses have a symbolic meaning in relation to the 12 tribes of Israel who are the people of God.
He said back then that the expensive stones mentioned are not the ones used to make jewellery although rosaries can be made from precious stones.
Malamulo in 2010 said since Jerusalem is known as the city of God where His temple is and reign; in the New Jerusalem the kingdom of God will be established as divine hence the precious high value. He explained how in the New Jerusalem, God will be present and reign higher in future after the Israelites disobeyed and the glory of God left.
Internet sources also list other symbolic meanings of biblical gemstones including red ruby stones symbolizing blood, love and fire, yellow stones like gold for the divine nature of Jesus Christ, blue stones like sapphire for heaven and God’s colour, purple stones like amethyst for royalty and kingship, black ones like onyx for mourning, judgement and fear of the Lord and white stones like quartz crystal symbolising “purity, righteousness, holiness and the Bride of Christ.”
It is that time again when Malawians look up to the skies in anticipation of good rains needed for growing plenty of maize and vegetables in a country with a mainly agro-based economy.
With erratic rains in recent years, some farmers are yet to embrace irrigation the way it is done in other countries globally. Not all understand terms like global warming or climate change and some superstitions and suspicions about the innocent elderly prevail in some villages.
I will share with you a Religion feature I wrote on November 7, 2010 and it was published in a local daily newspaper. Please note that the photos from Menno Welling I’ve used here are for a different story and don’t endorse this one:
Gathering for prayers to ask God for good rains used to be the norm in Malawi several years ago especially when there are dry spells although thanksgiving prayers were not held as often.
Scientific explanations about El Nino or Nina weather patterns and climate change are usually ignored by many while stories of elderly people holding rain in narrowed necked calabashes known as nsupa are somehow more widely believed in rural areas.
Odd stories include sending lightning (mphenzi) and thunder (mabingu) to deliberately harm and kill people. Despite all this superstition, it is a fact that God is behind the whole rain process as evidenced in the Bible with Psalms 147:8 reading, “who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.”
Job 36:27-28 reads, “for he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: Which the clouds do drop and distill upon man abundantly.”
Other biblical verses among many include Acts 14:17, nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
The Bible also show that God showers rain on everybody with the good example being Matthew 5:45, “that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
However, the Bible also shows how rain was withheld for three years and six months with 1 Kings 17 explaining about “Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.”
Another example is Revelation 11:1-14 about two witnesses proclaiming God’s message during 1260 days. It talks about how they are“the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
“And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
“These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.”
This on the other hand is different from so-called local matsenga (magic) beliefs which mostly harass the elderly accusing them of holding rain during droughts or short rainfalls.
Newspapers once reported of an old woman from Thyolo who had her property damaged by enraged villagers who accused her of being a witch and keeping a pot in her house for somehow tying or locking the rains.
Apostle Willie Chaponda, president of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Network when asked said witches cannot be ruled out and there are possibilities some could stop rains using magic.
When pressed further, he cited in the Bible examples of how Moses threw a stick which became a snake and wizards did the same thing although theirs was swallowed by Moses’.
Chaponda also recalled a Chiradzulu elderly man who used magic to produce rain saying such things are accomplished using evil spirits contrary to the will of God.
He stressed that God is supreme and can cancel other evil acts so need to panic or be violent. Questioned about the original Tchopa, rain dance, he answered it was a spiritual dance where afterwards the rain would come.
Historically, deities like Mbona at Khulubvi was known to once release the rain after dancing with a two-edged knife locally known as kandalanga which he would point to the north for hot winds to bring rains and the south for lighter showers.
In 2008, up the Likhubula river at Dziwe la Nkhalamba (swimming pool for the elderly) known for cold water and a rock, Menno Welling, an archaeologist with some Catholic University students after excavations discovered a rain shrine.
This was confirmed by blue beads and clay containers. The deity still remains unknown but some traditional healers insist it is from an astral plane beyond Sapitwa peak of Mulanje Mountain.
Despite these deities, the interesting thing is that our ancestors still believed they were like messengers to ask God (Chauta, Namalenga) for rains because in their eyes it involved the spiritual world and not the material one we currently live in. Ironically, both Christian and ancestral ways seem to recognize God as the one who makes rain and is the source.
When ancestors of this ancient beautiful land of Malawi wanted to seek, request or ask Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) for something they would go through their ancestral spirits or those of royal blood they assumed were close to the Creator, claim some Sapitwa healers.
This is why some followed Mbona among others because in ancient beliefs, kings were assumed to be nearer to Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe after they passed on to the believed astral realm locals called the spiritual world.
When at their “sacred” place they would kneel down and clasp cupped hands and clap three times while calling on their spirits by chanting names explains a female Sapitwa healer.
According to her, this method is also used when clapping for chiefs with cupped hands put together, when greeting people, as an excuse me sign when visiting a place or the way children are taught to receive things like sweets or toys with two cupped hands together. However, these have no known meaning and seem to be a part of culture or way of doing things to show respect, politeness and humbleness if one can put it that way.
However Sapitwa healers insist cupped hands play a very important role in their rituals including the way one receives some things they consider to be “holy” in the African terms.
Their tools and instruments are also held in a cupped hand and this is the case in many cultures and global countries including ancient Egypt proving that we have been similar in a way despite different languages, beliefs and ways of doing things.
According to internet sources the letter K in the ancient Egyptian alphabet “developed from the cupped hand”. – to be continued…….
Behind colourful masks: Telling stories through words, pictures and videos….traveling with me back to ancient times