Of ancient Malawi Mbona’s zebra (mbidzi) fly-whisk of power


Internet Zebra tail photo

A middle-aged woman living in the commercial city of Malawi….Blantyre falls into a deep sleep after a long day at work and has a dream that haunts her when she wakes.

In the vision the middle-aged woman saw a black horse with a white tail jumping wildly across the ground using its legs and strength and then all of a sudden seeming to charge towards her just in time for her to notice its tail is white and its eyes like those of the masked dancing spirits (mizimu) of Malawi.

After days of failing to figure out the dream, she treks to Mulanje district, home of the feared Sapitwa healers and is told that the zebra locally known as mbidzi is the “bush” black and white stripped horse of Malawi.

Now another kind of zebra this blog has seen resembles a black sea unicorn or seahorse and is said to be found in some waters of the mythical Sapitwa or maybe sourced from the Indian Ocean by healers.

The consumption of seahorses for medicinal purposes is widespread in China, where they are used in traditional Chinese medicine primarily for the treatment of impotence, wheezing, nocturnal enuresis, and pain, as well as to promote labor according to the unofficial Wikipedia.

Seahorse photo taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hippocampus.jpg

It also says that the Seahorse is the “title given to 54 species of marine fishes in the genus Hippocampus. “Hippocampus” comes from the Ancient Greek hippos meaning “horse” and kampos meaning “sea monster”.

Now the spiritual secret of the zebra is in its tail which is used to make unique fly-whisks for some chiefs and medicine men and women not only for chasing flies away!

Such tails are said to cool down enemies when “prepared” by waving them in a certain way this blog cannot yet disclose.

The mbidzi (zebra) represented “power” and hence it was only given to those the spirit world of Sapitwa chose and in this case it’s whom the healers refer to as Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God.)

This fly-whisk is different from the rare bulu [donkey] ones used in ancient Mbona’s magic tricks which also included use of its foot for disappearing acts or when one was being chased.

Mbona was said to suddenly appear in close places using the tail and foot of the donkey.

Online ancient Egypt’s Tutankhamun fly-whisks are also described as either horse-hair or donkey hair but its use not known. http://books.google.mw/booksid=Vj7A9jJrZP0C&pg=PA495&lpg=PA495&dq=ancient+Egypt%E2%80%99s+Tutankhamun+fly-whisks+are+described+as+either+horse-hair&source=bl&ots=ztYZnnuKEy&sig=anI1Gr7LyBaAPvfgOY9Nlm7aO_o&hl=en&sa=X&ei=NouHU6ryI4OO7Qa2uYHIAg&redir_esc=y

Usually dreams including those about horses are said to be inspired by thoughts or experiences the dreamer goes through but in ancient Malawi there were some dreams which were believed to be “prophetic” (ulosi) in an African way which is today described as primitive and evil.

Ancestors of this ancient land believed that some dreams were from royal ancestral spirits whom they believed to be close to Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe who is God.

One of such spirits was the mythical Mbona and Nyangu ones but not the well documented ones of Khulubvi in Nsanje but the ones said to haunt the astral real of Sapitwa, the highest peak of Mulanje Mountain.

In Malawi, Sapitwa healers are known as asing’anga (African doctor or healer) but specializing in the spirit world (mizimu) after being born of the spirit through specific water rituals while the rest are known as munthu (a person).

They also use fly-whisks including the mbidzi one they hide at Sapitwa and other mythical mountain peaks in Africa.

Internet fly-whisk photo

Currently the Sapitwa healers who were in the forefront and first in terms of knowledge and having spirit guides are now in the background and last as the spirit world replaces them with those who were last and seen as naïve and useless.

According to one Sapitwa healer, this means all those who trekked to the former strong healers for power will also have their powers diluted as the spirit world changes positions.

All this is said to be done to usher in the new Nyangu to replace the ancient one who fell from grace and believed to also use a donkey fly-whisk for her so-called miracles or magic just like ancient Egypt’s Isis.

Closely related to horses and donkeys, the zebra (subgen uses Hippotigris  and Dolichohippus) is best known for its black and white striped body. In fact, zebra stripe patterns are unique to each individual. These stripes are believed to be camouflage devices that help zebras hide well in the grass.

“Zebras as very social animals and live in large groups called ‘harems.’ Plains and mountain zebras live in harems that are made up of one stallion and up to six mares and their young, while Grevy’s zebras come together as groups for short periods of time.

“Sometimes herds come together to form temporary groups of up to 30 members. Zebras sleep standing up, and only when they are in groups that can warn them of danger. If they spot a predator, they will bark or whinny loudly to warn the others in the group partly reads http://www.defenders.org/zebra/basic-facts

Donkey (bulu) tail ready to be made into a fly-whisk like Mbona’s

White Sapitwa rock of ancient Malawi symbolized death

In many Asian and Middle Eastern countries white is the colour of death and in some Asian cultures white is also considered to be a colour which represents death.

When this blog uses the word “white” or “black” it’s not referring to races but only to different colours also used in paintings and other works of art.

A Sapitwa rock which glows in the dark

White in ancient Malawi was also viewed as the colour of death because spirits (mizimu) were believed to appear as if they’re wearing white robes. In ancient Egypt white clothing reflected the white of mummification together.

“White also represented death in ancient Egypt, representing the lifeless desert that covered much of the country; black was held to be the colour of life, representing the mud-covered fertile lands created by the flooding of the Nile and giving the country its name (Kemet or “black land”) read various Internet sources.

Does this ancient Egypt drawing represent the dead or the living?

Now there is a mythical Sapitwa rock which is blackish in colour with a bit of white showing.  When it faded to become white, it was considered to represent the afterworld of which the owner would eventually join.

On the other hand black Egypt was said to be the colour of the life-giving silt left by the Nileinundation, which led to the ancient name for the country Kemet meaning the “black land”.

The colour black was seen as symbolizing fertility, new life, and resurrection as seen through the yearly agricultural cycle and it also was the colour of Osiris, the “black one” and the “resurrected god of the dead” and “Dweller in the Funeral Mountain” according to various internet sources.

It’s also a fact that some religious men in several traditional religions have for centuries worn black clothing without being labeled negative names.  Some beliefs pointed at black scientifically being the absence of colour and showing one’s lack of concern for the dictates of fashion.

In ancient African spiritual beliefs, black was the colour for rain and hence a black cloth, black goat or black cattle were sent to various deities as a price for rain during droughts among other things.

Rain clouds appear black and in some ancient Malawian beliefs they believed in Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) and went through royal spirits they believed to be close to the Creator when asking for rain among other things.

Black clouds before it rains

In what many online sources and authors call the “Mbona cult” a black cloth was also used and said to “cover the bed in the hut of Mbona” in the books Animals and Ancestors by Brian Morris and Rivers of Blood: The Genesis of a Martyr Cult in Southern Malawi by J.M. Schoffeleers.

Travelling to Mulanje in the month of October or November along the Thyolo road one is bound to notice black clouds forming in the sky to indicate the beginning of the rainy season.

As the majestic Mulanje mountain appears in a distance, it’s Sapitwa peak appearing to beckoning chosen ones, one cannot help but notice what looks like clouds or fog surrounding it.

For some Mang’anja Sapitwa healers, the formation of black clouds are an indication the rains are near and they study the clouds to figure out where it’s raining and where it will rain next.

This is also done by studying the formation of black clouds on hill tops and activities in water bodies.  A specific black cloud which seems to glow with the sun is also believed to guide some healers to chosen places for what they call their spirits (mizimu).

The healers who tell myths that the astral realm of Sapitwa peak is home to ancestral spirits hence the dead claim to follow the greyish/black cloud to where their “royal spirit” takes them and stop where it stops.

Black for them is also the colour of their version of Mbona.  However, the official and accepted Mbona story by the valuable custodians of that culture is documented under Unesco’s Khulubvi and Associated Mbona Sacred Rain Shrines world heritage site.


“Khulubvi sacred shrine is located in Nsanje District, in the lower Shire Valley in Southern Region of Malawi, It is an important spiritual place among the people of Mang’anja tribe. It is a place where the Mang’anja worship the spirit of Mbona.

“According to Mang’anja oral tradition, Mbona was a legendary figure with super human powers who lived in the area during the rise of the Lundu Kingdom. Mbona is said to have had magic powers of bringing rain, creating wells of water on sandy lands, creating forests where they did not exist and hiding from enemies by turning into other creatures such as guinea fowls.

“It is said that Mbona’s uncle Mlauli, who was also a magician envied his nephew and wanted to kill Mbona. Mlauli, however, failed to kill Mbona because he wished to die on his own by telling Mlauli and his enemies to cut his throat with a leaf of a reed after other weapons had failed to harm him.

This drawing of ancient Egypt's Osiris looks like the "dead" Photo from http://www.zubitravel.com/2013/07/the-crook-and-flail-pharaoh-symbols-in.html
This drawing of ancient Egypt’s Osiris looks like the “dead”
Photo from http://www.zubitravel.com/2013/07/the-crook-and-flail-pharaoh-symbols-in.html

“His head was cut and placed at Khulubvi sacred groove, where the shrine exists today. People who knew his magic works began coming to the place periodically to worship the spirit of Mbona. A traditional hut within Khulubvi natural thicket of approximately 100 square metres was constructed as a worshipping site,” further reads the Unesco cultural heritage website about Mbona.

Some ancestors believed Mbona was “gifted with powers from the heavens” and would invoke the rains during a drought using his two-edged knife/sword locally known as kandalanga to point to the north to provoke the four winds which consist of the north, south, west and east to form the ancient African cross used by some village “Mbona healers”.

For centuries such healers have believed that Mulanje Mountain and it’s Sapitwa Peak are a source of rain and rivers.

The unofficial online Wikipedia claims that “most affected by the ITCZ in the Mulanje Area, is the Mulanje Massif, because its unique position as a “mountain island”, rising up more than 2500 metres above the plains around. This setting is responsible for the Massifs’ role as a rain barrier that forces the clouds to come down in the form of rain.Image

“This becomes very visible if we take a look at the annual normal rainfalls, on and around the massif. On plateau level, at around 2000 metres above sea level, we annually experience more than 250 mm (100 inches) of rain, however, in the low plains around the foot of the Massif, the annual rainfalls, range around 40 inch.

“In the plains around the Mountain, it normally only rains in the rainy season, while it rains all year long, on plateau level. The rains are just more intense and frequent then in the dry season.

But, there are still differences in the amounts of rain, around the Massif. The south-west face of the Mountain, is the weather side around Likhubula Lichenya and Mulanje Boma, which experiences the highest amounts of rain, due to the south-east trades of the southern hemisphere, that drive the moist air from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo into the Mulanje region. Therefore the North-west face of the Massif experiences lesser rains, as it is situated in the shadows of the high Peaks of the Massif,” further reads the unofficial Wikipedia.

The unofficial online encyclopedia also claims that “the elevation of the mountain is high enough for it to disturb upper level air flow and induce rain clouds to form around it, making it an important source of rain water at the head of almost every river that runs through this part of Malawi.”

Leaves of ancient Sapitwa “Mpingo” tree

Scientifically it’s pretty well-known that most clouds are white, while rain clouds dark and black.


Of ancient Malawi’s goat leaders and sheep follower tales

“When one sheep moves, the rest will follow…even from birth, lambs are taught to follow the older members of the flock. The dominant members of the flock usually lead, followed by the submissive ones. If there is a ram in the flock, he usually leads.

“A team leader guides the flock and does things for the good of all like a sheep…even if it means making sacrifices and being a servant to serve the people while an arrogant and selfish goat behavior one scatters people and causes confusion as one way of trying to cling to power not meant for them. – Sapitwa


Sheep learn to follow at a young age photo taken from http://www.sheep101.info/201/behavior.html

It’s D-day for a sheep (nkhosa) in a remote village of Malawi as a villager takes out his sharp knife ready for the slaughter. The sheep does not hesitate and gives its neck unlike the goat who gives a struggle claims a villager from Lilongwe.

This is why some secretive healers in a certain part of Mozambique are said to “pass the test” by having a knife put on their necks but failing to cut because it somehow turns into rubber.

Such stories are told by several healers in Malawi who trek to Mocuba in Mozambique because they value Mt Namuli….they refer to the place as ‘Kuba’ spiritual realm.

Goat photo taken from the Internet

Oral stories are also told of sheep, dogs and goats (mbuzi) in relation to what they eat and how they behave when told not to do something.

A Mulanje man told this blog that when a dog is chased away after it sneaks to eat food near a home….it returns secretly and tries to eat more food no matter how much you chase it away.

Same thing with goats they claim, they don’t always listen and can sometimes wander into the streets from villagers near main roads.  But when a sheep is chased away once, this villager claims it listens and never returns to where it was chased from.

Sheep are also said to move in order with a leader and a flock and not scattered and sometimes wandering on their own like goats….which some villagers view as selfish and arrogant.

It’s because of such beliefs that Malawi’s ancient magical oracle known as Maula is “powered” by a single goat horn and a blackened narrow neck nsupa made from the African wine kettle gourd.

Several things power the evil maula which this blog has seen and analyzed but will not go into details to share its dark secrets online. The pinky finger in ancient times was used by some powerful ancient chiefs to “propel” their nyanga into action say Sapitwa healers.

Now the horns of a specific sheep which in English is probably a Ram is said to have been used as an instrument to produce a certain sound and in some ancient rituals this blog is still investigating.

Sapitwa hand sign when making offerings (nsembe) using a cupped hand symbol as well

Now being a key animal in the history of farming, sheep have a deeply entrenched place in human culture, and find representation in much modern language and symbology.

“As livestock, sheep are most often associated with pastoral, Arcadian imagery.  Sheep figure in many mythologies—such as the Golden Fleece—and major religions, especially the Abrahamic traditions.

“In both ancient and modern religious ritual, sheep are used as sacrificial animals,” partly reads http://www.sheep101.info/201/behavior.html

Sheep are also known as flock animals and strongly gregarious; much sheep behavior can be understood on the basis of these tendencies.

“The dominance hierarchy of sheep and their natural inclination to follow a leader to new pastures were the pivotal factors in sheep being one of the first domesticated livestock species.

“Furthermore, in contrast to the red deer and gazelle, sheep do not defend territories although they do form home ranges. All sheep have a tendency to congregate close to other members of a flock, although this behavior varies with breed, and sheep can become stressed when separated from their flock members.

“During flocking, sheep have a strong tendency to follow and a leader may simply be the first individual to move. Relationships in flocks tend to be closest among related sheep: in mixed-breed flocks, subgroups of the same breed tend to form, and a ewe and her direct descendants often move as a unit within large flocks.

Domestic sheep photo taken from the online Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flock_of_sheep.jpg















Sheep are best known for their strong flocking (herding) and following instinct. They will run from what frightens them and band together in large groups for protection. This is the only protection they have from predators.

“There is safety in numbers. It is harder for a predator to pick a sheep out of a group than to go after a few strays. Flocking instinct varies by breed, with the fine wool breeds being the most gregarious,” reads one internet source.

And according to http://www.sheep101.info/201/behavior.html the big difference between sheep and goats is their “foraging behavior and diet selection.”

“Goats are natural browsers, preferring to eat leaves, twigs, vines, and shrubs. They are very agile and will stand on their hind legs to reach vegetation. Goats like to eat the tops of plants.

Goats in trees photo taken from the Internet
Goats in trees photo taken from the Internet

“Sheep are grazers, preferring to eat short, tender grasses and clover. Their dietary preference is forbs (broadleaf weeds) and they like to graze close to the soil surface.”

“Sheep and goats tend to behavior differently. Goats are naturally curious and independent, while sheep tend to be more distant and aloof.

“Sheep have a stronger flocking instinct and become very agitated if they are separated from the rest of the flock. It is easier to keep sheep inside a fence than goats,” further reads the website.

As for horns, most goats are naturally horned with some having beards while many breeds of sheep are naturally hornless (polled).  Goat horns are more narrow, upright, and less curved than sheep horns and sheep tend to curl their horns in loops on the sides of their heads.



Of Malawi’s mpungabwi ‘wormwood’ incense and Mbona tales

Mbona illustration in the Ulendo Series Mtunda 8 Chichewa for Standard 8 book

White light flashing like the sun and resembling lightning hits the roof of a building on a bright hot October day in Malawi as a young woman approaches the building almost tripping in the process.

As the brightness of the light in a flash temporarily blinds her eyes she looks down and is suddenly confused with red spots that resemble blood appearing on the dusty ground before a mysterious watchman grabs her arm before she hits the ground.

She looks into his pigeon shaped eyes, smooth dark skin with a well shaped beard with hidden dreadlocks under his huge fedora looking brown hat.

So go such tales told by a female Mang’anja Sapitwa healer who believes in the power of Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) and claims to send requests through the Almighty Power.

She suspects the woman in the said tales probably came face to face with their version of a different Mbona like serpent spirit who on rare occasions appears like a man through the flash of a bright white light in so-called folklore.

The healer says such women called to healing and ancient Malawi prophecy (ulosi wakale) use incense (lubani) in some of their rituals to contact the “spirit world”.

Sapitwa healers have confirmed thatthe incense is locally known Mpungabwi and is also used to treat those who amadwala mutu waukulu and scare away “real” snakes and witches (afiti) who harm innocent people among other uses.

If “Mpungabwi” is “Wormwood” then online “Wormwood” is known as Herb Artemisia.

If this Mpungabwi, it’s also used in Malawi incense

It was used in ancient Malawi “prophecy” when one is about to foretell droughts or upcoming negative events to clear the mind and get the message clearly.

Mpungabwi  is also used for what is locally known as mutu waukulu [like spiritual illnesses that affect the mind causing headache like symptoms] and for kubwebweta.

Edmond Kachale on Facebook when asked in a question to fellow Malawians defined bwebweta in English as babbling or “talking nonsense, to sleep-talk (to talk while asleep) which is Somniloquy.”

However Coster Phiri when also asked on Facebook said Kubwebweta and Majini, Mabzoka/Malombo or Vimbuza are different as they’re “trances.”

Various spirit healing dances were also held in ancient times to rid “patients” of demons or illnesses.

Some babbling causes “headaches” worse than migraines and some are said to start having strange dreams and speak unknown words such as hihihihihihi….commonly associated with ziwanda (demons) which run away like snakes when they smell mpungabwi say some healers.

Now this blog is trying to confirm if Mpungabwi is Artmisia afra in English also known as Sagewood or Wormwood.

Dried Wormwood internet photo

If so then maybe it’s the one in the Ulendo Series Mtunda 8 Chichewa for Standard 8 book which partly talks about Mbona lighting a fire as he waits for the elderly man to tell him the secret of prophecy which involves Mbona’s “wife” leaning on it.

The Chichewa story partly reads:

Mmenemo Mbona ali kulimbikira kusonkhezera moto kuti mkhalakale wake aulule zonse za chinsinsi cha ulosi wonse…..

“Pali mankhwala ena woti kuti agwire nchito mpaka ayenera kutsamiridwa ndi mkazi wako. Kodi uli kumva? Anafunsa motero Mlauli utsi wa fodya wa mkaliwo uli pa liwiro kuthamangira kudenga.

“Ndamva gogo! Anatero Mbona…..

….Mokondwerera anatero Mlauli ali kutsendeza wina fodya mkaliwo ndi chala chachikulu chimene chinachita kufwichilira ndi utsi, chili psuu!”

Now what is confusing is that some female Mang’anja Sapitwa healers seem to know some of the teachings of Mbona which include his kandalanga which is like a lupanga which in English is a two-edged sword.

“Mawa ndikupatsa chako chimpeni chothwa kuwiri chimene chimatchedwanso kuti kandalanga [tomorrow I will give you your own knife sharpened on both sides called a kandalanga] partly reads p.27 of the Ulosi wakale 1 [foretellers in history] in the Ulendo Series Mtunda Chichewa for Standard 8 book about the mythical Mbona.

And this blog can reveal that Mbona’s “wife” is supposed to use Mpungabwi  together with a Sapitwa herb this blog is not allowed to reveal to clear “prophecies” from Mbona through dreams.

Sapitwa hand symbol for Life as part of the cupped hands used when making offerings (nsembe)

“According to Manganja oral tradition, Mbona was a rain priest who was decapitated by his enemies. Even after dying, his blood continued to pour from his headless body, eventually forming a river. The Ndione Pool, located not far from the Mbona shrine in Nsanje, Malawi, is celebrated as the place where Mbona was martyred….

“The Mbona shrine was traditionally maintained by an older woman selected by the priests to be Mbona’s “spirit wife.” The spirit wife, named Salima after Mbona’s original wife, supposedly received Mbona’s messages in her dreams. The Salima also oversaw female initiation rites at Nsanje,” wrote J. Matthew Schoffeleers in his book River of Blood: The Genesis of a Martyr Cult in Southern Malawi, ca. 1600 posted on http://www.fofweb.com/History/MainPrintPage.asp?iPin=AHCIII0347&DataType=WorldHistory&WinType=Free

Schoffeleers also wrote that “Mbona was routinely portrayed as someone who causes the population to become divided amongst itself.”

He also described Mbona like an overseer “a sense of seeing or being seen, and derives from the word wona “to see” or “to be true.” The name may possibly be related also to the noun bona, the concluding ceremony of the mourning period, at which offerings of food and beer are made”.

Schoffeleers in his book also wrote that in one version of the Mbona tales, he was against the administrating of the mwabvi poisonous concoction where those without “witchcraft” were believe to not die from the ordeal.

In the tales Mbona is quoted as telling people he had the power of “Mlungu” to tell when people were guilty. Other tales talk of Mbona being labelled a mfiti (wizard) and him responding he used powers of (Chauta) God.

Now this mpungabwi incense is also used by some healers to send messages or requests to the 4 winds of Sapitwa (Mphepo Zinayi). The ancient Malawi cross is today drawn with ufa woyera (white flour) to mark the boundaries of the local altar and in the middle “tools” are put.

4 winds of Sapitwa cross (mphepo zinayi)

The four winds of Sapitwa consist of Tomasi Bona for the North wind, Tagoneka Mbona for the West, Chandiona gonekela for the South and Nthanda mwana wa mwezi (Nandi) of the East.

Sapitwa healers claim Sirius locally known as Nthanda mwana wa mwezi (Nandi) of the East has a companion star called Phanga or Mapanga.

The 3 mythical winged female negative charges used in battle and connected to specific hills or mountains but not for incense are Dziwe Ntambamwana (witchcraft pool), Sungamwana (Keep the child) and Ife Zonse (all of us).

Next a charcoal burner locally known as mbaula is lit and “raw” lubani (incense) which we now know is mpungabwi is put on top till it creates smoke.

What ever is requested or asked for is said in the direction of the wind where the lubani smoke flows which is deliberately to the East because some of the ancestors of this land believed Chauta, Namalenga, Mpambe (God) is in the East.

In a home or hut, the East would the direction where the sun rises and the West where it sets so the North and South would be known hence the ancient African cross for the 4 winds.

This was a method ancient Malawi’s Mbona used when pointing his kandalanga (two-edged sword) to the North to signal for Chauta to bring rains and so forth. Globally, various internet sources define Artemisia Afra as wormwood.

“Artemisia is named after the Greek goddess Artemis. This soft aromatic shrub is a popular medicinal plant in South Africa. Another interesting link to the name is Artemisia, the wife of the Greek/Persian King Mausolus, who ruled after his death in 353 BC. In his honour she built a magnificent tomb called the Mausoleum, known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.”

Artemisia afra is also a common species in South Africa with a wide distribution from the Cederberg Mountains in the Cape, northwards to tropical East Africa and stretching as far north as Ethiopia. Artemisia afra is the only indigenous species in this genus. The species name afra means from Africa.

South Africa’s Impepho? Photo taken from http://www.ispot.org.za/node/182791

“Artemisia vulgaris is naturalized in the Eastern Cape. It is indigenous to Europe, Iran, Siberia and North Africa and is described by Huxley et al. (1992) as a condiment with supposed magical properties’. World-wide there are about 400 species of Artemisia, mainly from the northern hemisphere,” partly reads http://herbalafrica.co.za/HerbsArtemisia.htm

Another plant said to have a strong smell and is widely used as a perfume but also as an insect repellent, is Helichrysum odoratissimum with yellow flowers resembling a plant at Sapitwa called Chepachepa…to do with making something small.

Some internet sources define ‘Impepho” as a Zulu name meaning “to be sheltered, shielded or protected and botanical – Helichrysum.

Impepho “is an indigenous African plant that, once dried, is burnt in order to communicate with one’s ancestors according to  http://researchspace.ukzn.ac.za/xmlui/handle/10413/6349.

“Impepho is well-known to the majority of Sub Saharan Africans as it is used to communicate with their ancestors and it is also used by traditional healers to communicate with the deceased. It is used in various ceremonies, as well as in traditional feasts, when chickens, goats or cows are offered to the ancestors.”

This blog is investigating if Impepho is found at Sapitwa. Photo taken from

Of South African’s ‘Impepho’ and Malawi’s mphepo zinayi (4 winds) incense?

Impepho bundle photo taken from

This blog is trying to establish the ‘Impepho” herb of Malawi.

Some  Internet sources define ‘Impepho” as a Zulu name meaning “to be sheltered, shielded or protected and botanical – Helichrysum.

According to http://researchspace.ukzn.ac.za/xmlui/handle/10413/6349 Impepho “is an indigenous African plant that, once dried, is burnt in order to communicate with one’s ancestors.

“Impepho is well-known to the majority of Sub Saharan Africans as it is used to communicate with their ancestors and it is also used by traditional healers to communicate with the deceased. It is used in various ceremonies, as well as in traditional feasts, when chickens, goats or cows are offered to the ancestors.”

Now in Malawi, some healers use a certain herb as lubani (incense) to send requests and messages to the East which they believe is Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God).

Is Mpungabwi also burned as lubani (incense)?

Now this blog asks if this herb is Mpungabwi and if that in English is Sagewood or Wormwood, the bitter Artmisia afra scientifically?  Is it Kuwawa or is it the one they boil and cover their heads to sniff the steam to ease flues?

If so then maybe it’s the one in the Ulendo Series Mtunda 8 Chichewa for Standard 8 book which reads:

“Mmenemo Mbona ali kulimbikira kusonkhezera moto kuti mkhalakale wake aulule zonse za chinsinsi cha ulosi wonse…..

“Pali mankhwala ena woti kuti agwire nchito mpaka ayenera kutsamiridwa ndi mkazi wako. Kodi uli kumva? Anafunsa motero Mlauli utsi wa fodya wa mkaliwo uli pa liwiro kuthamangira kudenga.

“Ndamva gogo! Anatero Mbona…..

….Mokondwerera anatero Mlauli ali kutsendeza wina fodya mkaliwo ndi chala chachikulu chimene chinachita kufwichilira ndi utsi, chili psuu!”

Impepho photo from http://www.ispot.org.za/node/182791

Austria’s bearded drag queen like ancient Egypt’s Hapi?

Austria’s bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst who won the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen, Denmark reminds this blog of the Nile-deity Hapi in the Encyclopaedia Biblica 1903 publication.

Sapitwa has similar oral myths and tales of men with breasts and women with beards and vice versa.

Nile-deity Hapi of Encyclopaedia Biblica 1903 publication.
Conchita photo from the online Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:20140321_Dancing_Stars_Conchita_Wurst_4187.jpg

In ancient Africa such myths and tales in the spiritual realm were not strange.


Ancient Malawi’s mythical “Mpingo” Tree of Life mound remains untouched

Untouched Mpingo or Mphingo tree
Untouched Mpingo or Mphingo tree of ancient Malawi

Travelling through some parts of Mulanje villages, one is bound to see at least three unidentified trees apparently growing out of anthills which actually are termite mounds if one may call them that.

These anthills are called M’manga Mudzi which literally means build the village or guess one can say foundation. The tree that grows on one of them is ancient Malawi’s Tree of Life locally known as mphini or mpingo which is different from the local mphingo trees globally known as African Ebony.

Ancient mphini tattoo marks which actually are words and text

Mphini is used to make some unique tattoo mark incisions for “self-protection” rituals [kutemera] using an ancient alphabet which Sapitwa healers can read.

It’s sometimes near a tree called tsamba namwali or something like that used by some ancient healers to cleanse a woman’s body out of stuff after an abortion or childbirth among other things.

That’s no longer done.

Now this kind of tree which grows out of an anthill with its roots showing is said to be found at Sapitwa, the highest peak of Mulanje Mountain if what the healers say is anything to go by.

The three in Mulanje are also said not to be seen anyhow unless…the healers of Sapitwa and whatever “god” in that mound allow so go oral tales.

There also seems to be some kind of Sacred Science when a female Sapitwa healer explains things about their “spirit world” which seems to include a “god” and “goddess”.

Part roots of the untouched ancient M’manga Mudzi anthill tree of Malawi

Part of their myths and tales claim some ancient people believed there was some kind of a Primordial Mound where life sprang from somehow on termite hills.

This blog uses the term “Primordial” as it is defined online as the “existing at or from the beginning of time; primeval.”

According to a Mang’anja female Sapitwa healer some of the ancestors of this land believed life sprang from a mound which somehow had a serpent spirit which would appear as a human being or something like that and one of them’s name is Mbewula which to them means Run Away so fast!

This Mbewula clashed with their god and has been in the dzenje (ditch) for some time they claim so the mound must never be dug or opened anyhow.

She said the mound is like a hill or mountain which is above and below there is water like a lake with about four rivers and a water kingdom on its own according to ancient beliefs.

It’s from this tree where the saying “So above as is below” meaning the hills and water comes from but this blog won’t go into details to avoid promoting the occult.

In several ancient African societies those of royal families were believed to be given new bodies as serpent spirits when they passed on and these were usually the upright cobra, mamba and python. Not as the ones we see on earth but the so-called spiritual ones which spoke like human beings.

And in their ancient beliefs they claimed that their god had 7 spirits and of these 4 had a positive charge and were male on the right of the African cross while the 3 with a negative charge were said to be female.Image

Now the other and different Mphingo tree under “Rituals of Childbirth and Womanhood ”kutemera stuff is known on the continent as Mpingo, Blackwood or Ebony tree found in the bush.  The African Ebony tree is used for making curios ( ziboliboli).

“In Malawi rituals and social life there are symbolic associations between certain objects and attributes and the gender division.

“Thus softness (-fewa) is associated with women along with such items as the winnowing basket (lichero), clay pot (mbiya) and the grass head ring (nkhata), while men are associated with hardness (-limba) and with such things as hardwood trees – mphingo (Dalbergia melanoxylon), Mwanga (Pericopsis angolensis) and mlombwa (Pterocarpus angolensis) – metal tools (axe, hunting arrows, spears),” writes Brian Morris in his book ‘Animals and Ancestors: An Dalbergia melanoxylon Ethnography’.

Guitars, drums, stringed instruments, wind instruments and pianos are made from wood throughout the world and Mphingo or Mpingo is used for making curios in Malawi and is harder than the Sapitwa Mpingo tree growing out of a mound.

Jackalberry tree (African Ebony; Diospyros mespiliformus) in Zimbabwe growing on a termite mound: http://home.mweb.co.za/zs/zs6phd/Mapungubwe/Map.htm

Now texts of the creation myth of ancient Egypt talk of a Tree of Life growing out of the Sacred Mound, its branches reached out and supported the star and planet studded sky, while its roots reached down into the watery abyss of the Netherworld.”

In the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’ posted online, the Bennu bird was an  imaginary bird resembling a heron. It had a two long feathers on the crest of it’s head and was often crowned with the Atef crown of Osiris (the White Crown with two ostrich plumes on either side) or with the disk of the sun.

“This name apparently was being associated during the earlier periods of Egyptian history with various birds: the crane, the heron, the stork or the flamingo. Later it was more clearly identified with the heron.

“She was a kind of primordial god, which built its nest on the willow which is on top of the primordial hill.

According to information about ancient Egyptian Mythology and History posted online, the trunk of the Tree of Life represented the World Pillar or Axis Munde (meaning “Axis of the Mound”) around which the heavens appeared to revolve. The World Pillar was the centre of the universe.

“The source of four rivers is believed to be located at the foot of the Tree of Life, providing water the world. The four rivers are oriented according to the cardinal points of the compass and are associated with the four elements of Water – North, Fire – South, Air – East and Earth – West.

Ancient Egypt Tree of Life Internet photo

Information posted online shows that  in ancient Egyptian texts it is written of the Tree of Life, “I am the plant which comes from Nu.”

“The Tree of Life grew out of the Sacred Mound, its branches reaching out and supporting the star and planet studded sky, while its roots reached down into the watery abyss of the Netherworld further reads http://ancientegypt.hypermart.net/treeoflife

“The trunk of the Tree of Life represented the World Pillar or Axis Munde (literally “Axis of the Mound”) around which the heavens appeared to revolve. The World Pillar was the centre of the universe.

“The Ancient Egyptian symbol for “plant” meaning “Tree of Life” was three sacred lotus lilies. They have tree stems curving to the left as though blown into Life by the breath of Hu, the Celestial Sphinx. On top of each stem is the Lotus flower which was used in Ancient Egypt to represent Life and Resurrection,” further reads the same website.

And ancient Egyptian paintings often depicted a sacred tree above and beside a spring, which contains the water of life. Sometimes a woman is shown embodied in the tree and it is her task to provide food and water for the inhabitants of the Underworld like Osiris.

In Malawi, the spirit of Mbona is said to dwell in a deep pool believed to also be somewhere at Dziwe la Nkhalamba on Mulanje Mountain with it’s mythical Sapitwa Peak.

Phoenix (Bennu) photo from http://www.labyrinthina.com/letitbe.htm