Of Ancient Malawi’s Mikolo Njinjinji (Sacred African Ibis), hooks & fig trees (Kachere)


chayankula-rock-2

The peak of Thyolo Mountain in Malawi, Africa has a huge ancient Chayankhula Rock (It has spoken) of the ancestors resting on three huge rocks placed in a triangle like the traditional cook place locally called mafuwa.

“The Mwala wa Nthunzi rock along Thyolo road came from Thyolo Mountain and produced a vapour”, says a very friendly young man in the area as this writer tried to take more photos of the rock whose grinding stone on top keeps on changing…maybe a sign some people still attempt the old ritual there of knocking on it three times.

This information was also confirmed by several elders in the area who connected Mwala wa Nthunzi to Thyolo Mountain and said it was not a Rock of Shadow as in Mthunzi but Nthunzi as in Vapour or Steam connected to ancient Malawi spirit of royalty known as Bona.

Gone forever are the days of theka theka (half, half) sorghum and mapira flour offerings to Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (The One of the Bow hence Rainbow, Creator, Lightning & Thunder are His signs) at now extinct Malawi rain shrines including in Thyolo and Mulanje.

Thyolo Mountain was specifally known for Chayankula Rock as in It has Spoken placed on 3 huge rocks like a traditional 3 stone cooking place known as mafuwa.

Reddish kite birds locally known as Mphamba or Kachiwatu were connected to that mountain and the way they shrieked made some elders believe they showed malaulo (bad omen).

Some grannies also said when Thyolo mountain had a thick forest, some disappeared near that ancient sacred Rock.

Its three mafuwa are also symbolic for Sirius locally known as Nthanda yaku M’mawa (the Star from the East) and the sacred Triangle peak to represent SapiTWA and where Chayankula Rock is at the peak.

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Sitting near the ancient Chanyankula Rock (It has spoken) right on top of Thyolo Mountain

While Bvumbwe’s Mapazi a Yesu (Feet of Jesus) was known in ancient times as Kambiri with a history of some ancient chiefs.  It is also believed to have 3 rock shaped like the mafuwa traditional cooking place triangle.

Of importance were fig trees like Kachere tree among those connected to ancient Malawi spirits the majority of citizens no longer believe in and seen on Bvumbwe hill. The Kachere tree is a Malawian fig tree which provides shade when big for meetings.

Online sources also show that plant latex locally known as ulimbo was usually taken from the “freshly-cut inner bark of the Kachere tree.”

Kachere tree.jpg

The Kachere fig tree is believed to have been used in a mixture for some white drawings and was different from Mkuyu which is the Sycamore fig with Nkhuyu (figs).

It’s the one which has a white sap which was used for writing in ancient times together with the Bloodwood tree (Mlombwa) for making the Nyanda bark cloth.

Online sources say the Sycamore fig is native to Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Israel, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

However it is also found in Malawi with mainly two important Mikuyu types. One has figs which can be eaten while the other has figs which are not eaten.

The edible figs sometimes dry out including inside making them not edible because of the sun while other dried out ones are said to be eaten.

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On top of Kambiri hill in Bvumbe, Thyolo

Now according to some oral stories traditional African beer put near Kachere Fig trees in mtsuko clay pots as an offering to the Creator [Namalenga] and spirit world.

According to Sapitwa priestess, Mayi Cecilia Jarden, sorghum (mapira) was also used in ufa (flour) offerings together with mawere (millet) while chikokeyani was the traditional beer put in mtsuko (clay pot) near a sacred tree, and thobwa the non-alcoholic drink one.

This blog can now reveal that Kachere tree was the one used when offerings specifically involved Mikolo Njinjinji (Sacred African Ibis) families. Rocks.jpg

Some ancestors believed ancient Kings had specific stars hence claiming they would shoot to the West to African prophesy eternal sleep as in their death and the East to prophesy their birth especially when it came low and resembled an African cross.

Both beer and the non-alcoholic thobwa drink were made using either millet or sorghum as well as for food offerings made during droughts.

the-traditional-mtsuko-clay-pot-of-thobwa
Mtsuko clay pot photo from Travel Malawi Guide website

Sorghum is a grain whose first recorded remains, dating back to 8000 BCE, were found in the Nabta Playa archaeological site in southern Egypt, writes Jane Summer in her article ‘Sorghum: The Must-have Gluten-free Ancient Grani.’

In Sudan, sorghum was also used as offerings at temples dedicated to Amun, a spiritual being they believed in.  The British Museum website reports that archaeo-botanical analyses of the mould shards excavated reveal that sorghum was the grain used to make offerings, not wheat and barley, as was used to make offering breads in Egypt.

Now some extinct priesthoods would stand near the Kachere tree connected to ulimbo (glue used to catch birds) to check for signs of Mikolo Njinjinji whom they believed would use the Kachere fig tree like a hook to catch, snag, trap (kokola) spirits of the deceased extinct ancient royal families to guide them on their way to the afterworld.

Njinjinji is also connected to nyenyezi (stars) and movements especially the ones today known as “shooting stars” and meteor showers, meteorites, comets and asteroids among other names of today.

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Reddish Kite birds were seen near Chayakula Rock of Thyolo Mountain
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2 thoughts on “Of Ancient Malawi’s Mikolo Njinjinji (Sacred African Ibis), hooks & fig trees (Kachere)”

  1. Hi Agnes,

    My name is Rachel Ligairi. I’m an editor for a US-based educational website for primary and secondary students. Our website, CultureGrams, offers reports on the daily life and culture of the world’s countries. I’m currently looking for a native of Malawi to help verify and update our reports on that country. We pay US$400 for this project. You seem like the perfect candidate if this is something you would be interested in.

    More details are available here: http://www.proquest.com/products-services/culturegrams.html#accordionOne

    And I would love to discuss further over email: rachel.ligairi@proquest.com

    I hope to hear from you soon!

    1. Greetings and thanks. Apologies and hope you don’t mind as I have to verify that you are Rachel Ligairi as some hackers have been trying to take my blog down or distort it.

      I’m touched so let me first Google to get more details before I express my interest, thanks

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