It’s a sunny day as a young woman travels to a village on her way to meet her elderly great grand-father who happens to be a traditional healer.
After a 15 minute walk she sees his hut and the fresh air of the village greets her nose. Approaching the place she can’t help but admire the cattle the old man owns ranging from cows to sheep and goats.
When she finally gets to one of the huts, she sits down on the ground with her auntie waiting for the arrival of the healer. Within five minutes he appears and takes a seat near them.
During their conversation, the woman can’t help but notice that the elderly man keeps writing on the sand or dusty ground with his finger. She can’t make sense of the words because all she sees are circles and cross like figures.
Other healers use sticks or a certain type of tree branch to write on the ground and claim the drawings they make are messages and words they can read which are told to them by mizimu (winged spirits).
This is a true story that happened in another country within the Sadc region and this blog has discovered that some of the ancient healers of this land also used their finger to write on the ground thousands of years ago.
When talking to a “patient” or “client” they would write whatever the spirit tells them. If they drew a plain circle on the ground and a cross either inside or next to it, that would symbolize “blessings”.
Those who knew that symbol would be happy and expect blessings because in ancient times they believed in the power of words. Mind you they did not use this alphabet we are using to type on this blog but they had drawings which they could read.
Another symbol cross-like with black soil written on the left and the healer’s blood used to write on the right would scare the person who saw it as they would think they have been cursed and so forth.
All this was done using the index finger which some Malawians on Facebook refer to as chala chamkomba phala which describes the way it was used to scoop and stir porridge etc.
This was believed to be similar to the ancient Malawi symbol of the cupped hand still used today to clap for chiefs of this generation and for greeting or showing politeness among other things.
The same cupped hands were also used by the ancestors of this land when asking Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) for things.
They would kneel down and clap their hands three times and then start the ancient African way of praying through their ancestor whom they assumed were closer to God in the spiritual realm.
The ancestors felt only spirits could communicate with the Great Spirit and other spirits among other things and not physical beings on earth.
Healers played with these symbols including the two to represent the rhinoceros horns popularly known as Rhino and locally called chipembere, the animal.
The middle finger is suspected to have represented the long horn of the Rhino so combined it represented the two Rhino horns which is different from what we know today as a peace sign and another meaning from a different culture.
There is also a possibility that the Rhino horn represented a dagger or kandalanga sword of Mbona as it also was said to stir up confusion just like mvundulamadzi (the Fish Eagle) when it wants to catch fish among other things.
The seven mythical spirits (mizimu) of Sapitwa also have a horn to represent royalty say some healers. In the Sapitwa mythology, ancestral spirits of the dead live in the astral realm of Mulanje Mountain and winged spirits which have never been human so go the tales.
Of these are 7 spirits guided by their God (Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe) of which four are believed to control what is believed to be 4 winds used by healers to send requests with incense to the Creator and the 3 used for miracles and to form the triangle to represent a mountain with its highest peak.
Sapitwa healers also talk of ancient people using the feather (nthenga) of a chicken to write and document information.
This blog will share more information once it’s made available and once again this blog is not endorsing any belief but just documenting words of some traditional healers.