Category Archives: General

Nature’s Beauty: Mwala wa Mphini (rock with traditional scars)

Mwala wa Mphini
Photo from Malawi’s Dpt of Antiquities for a similar published story I wrote

When an elderly Malawian hears the Chichewa word mphini  they might first think of incisions traditional healers locally known as asing’anga make to administer either herbs straight into the bloodstream or for protective charms hence // and similar slashes in opposite and various positions depending on the “treatment.”

Others will remember tattoos, traditional scars or marks ancestors in some cultures regarded as beauty in women from the head to toe.

According to Mayi Jarden, a local healer based in a Mulanje village who deals with the spirit world, some specific //slashes were also viewed as the click of the Abathwa where both the Pygmies and Bushmen in English were grouped together but locally known as Abatwa and Abathwa respectively. Mphini 2.jpg

Online sources show stone-aged tools indicating that people who are known as Abathwa, Akafula or Amwandionerapati lived in Malawi since around 8000 BC” making them the country’s first settlers.

Now healers who claim to know the ways of the AbaTwa in relation to herbs and healing also value Mulanje Mountain forest reserve including Dziwe la Nkhalamba and some areas near Lake Malawi and other areas in the country where there is water and ancient rain shrines.

It’s because of the definition of the word mphini  that many Malawians concluded that the rock in Lake Malawi National Park Cape Maclear called Mwala wa Mphini was created by the ancestors.

“No” say some healers attributing its creation to an act of Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) hence natural and not mankind creating the marks on the rock.

But there are still rumours of ancestors somehow creating the marks on the rocks but that is not true.

In an email response, Samba Sarah Kambalame, Monuments Officer for Malawi’s Department of Antiquities said the Mwala wa Mphini monument is a tattooed geological structure.

“The name Mwala wa Mphini in literal translation means “Rock marked with traditional scars” Its geomorphic formation presents a picture of scars that amaze locals and visitors. It dates back to the Iron Age.

Mphini
Mphini besides medical traditional incisions are also used as beauty or tribal marks in Africa and more common among the elderly in Malawi

“Many myths are told about the rock’s origin and healing powers. Many believe it to be a sacred rock; local medicine men make healing and protective concoctions from chipping aggregates of the rock,” she explains.

Internet sources explain that geological structures as faults and folds are the architecture of the earth’s crust.”

“Geologic structures influence the shape of the landscape, determine the degree of landslide hazard, bring old rocks to the surface, bury young rocks, trap petroleum and natural gas, shift during earthquakes, and channel fluids that create economic deposits of metals such as gold and silver.

“Folds, faults, and other geologic structures accommodate large forces such as the stress of tectonic plates jostling against each other, and smaller forces such as the stress of gravity pulling on a steep mountainside.

“An understanding of the structures that shape the earth’s crust can help you see when and where the crust was subjected to pushing or pulling,terrane accretion or crustal rifting,” further reads https://commons.wvc.edu/rdawes/basics/structures.html

The same website also explains how stress refers to the forces that cause rocks to deform and three three basic types of stress that deform rocks including compression (pushing together),tension (pulling apart) and shear (twisting or rotating).

“In response to stress, rocks will undergo some form of bending or breaking, or both. The bending or breaking of rock is called deformation or strain.

If rocks tend to break, they are said to be brittle. If a rock breaks, it is said to undergo brittle behavior. If rocks tend to bend without breaking, they are said to be ductile, further reads the same website.

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Mwala wa Mphini, eroded rock in Lake Malawi National Park, Cape Maclear, Malawi http://www.africaimagelibrary.com/media/526912b8-8980-11e1-acdc-09e228d701f5-mwala-wa-mphini-eroded-rock-in-lake-malawi-national-park-cape

 

 

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Mystery inside Zomba Plateau’s Chingwe’s Hole

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Chingwe’s hole photograph taken from the Malawian explorer website http://exploremalawi.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-abyss-of-zomba-plateau-chingwes-hole.html

 

Mystery, legend, imagination and myths more than concrete facts surrounds Zomba Plateau’s Chingwe’s Hole also nicknamed an abyss of nothingness by some Malawian bloggers.

The hole is the source of rumours ranging from alleged mentally disturbed people being thrown in to enemies of some ancient chiefs.

Some believe the place to be haunted by spirits (mizimu) whose origins are not known and whether they are believed to be ancestral spirits (mizimu yamakolo) or not.

Other Malawians assumed the mentally challenged or disturbed were also thrown down that pit in ancient times just because there is Zomba Mental hospital in the area.

But one thing remains clear and not as sketchy….which is the hole being known as a dumping site for deceased lepers.

Chingwe's hole
Photo from Malawian Explorer Blog

Those who have attempted to climb inside, estimate it to be about 10 meters deep although villagers in the area reportedly estimated it at 30 meters before it was filled by dirt and other things.

So it has a bottom full of sand or dirt.

According to Samba Sarah Kambalame, the Monuments Officer in Malawi’s Department of Antiquities, officially Chingwe’s hole is a “historical place and known as an area where unwanted people were thrown including lepers and some with disabilities.”

But it is not known if research has been done to establish if there are indeed many bones inside the hole the way it was done with the “Leper Tree” of Malawi.However the hole still has a horrible reputation and is also viewed as a bottomless cave.

Some say it reaches the base of the Rift valley, others give specific depths writes Aku Kalizang’oma in his blog titled ‘The Abyss of Zomba plateau, Chingwe’s Hole’ in his Explore Malawi blog.

“Whatever the case, the secrets that the victims might have kept have long been taken with them beyond the plains. If you find yourself on the plateau, do you have the courage to gaze through the abyss?,” asks Kalizang’oma.

Another mystery is the origins of the chingwe name which means rope.

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Photo from Malawi Tourism website http://www.malawitourism.com/pages/attractions/the_attraction.asp?AttractionsID=25

According to a Victoria Falls online Guide a Great Chief of Central Africa was allegedly Chingwe.

Quoting information from a Zimbabwe farmer’s website the guide quotes a John recalling how as a child he was told “tribal legends by the son of a village chief, stories of a great and powerful Chief, Chief Chingwe, who ruled from what is today Zimbabwe to Tanzania, Uganda and beyond.”

“It was said that the Chief held court on Zomba Plateau and threw all his enemies into a vertical hole in the plateau. In the sixties the hole was discovered, full of human bones, however history has yet to be rewritten,” alleged the website.

So far most known evidence available online is about the trunk of the Leper Tree which reads: “The grave for people who suffered from leprosy in the past.” You can still poke your head into the hollow and see skulls and skeletons lying at the bottom.”

Leper tree
Leper Tree photo taken from http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-leper-tree

Time will tell if the suspected bottomless pit of Zomba Plateau also has evidence of lost human life inside its mysterious Chingwe Hole or if it’s ancient name really was a person’s name or just a phrase for a rope or string in the vernacular one might need to get out of there smoothly.

“Zomba Plateau is unique. A great slab of a mountain rising to 6000ft (1800m), it has vast tracts of cedar, pine and cypress but elsewhere the vegetation is wild and mixed.

“The plateau top is criss-crossed by streams and there are tumbling waterfalls and still lakes. There are driveable tracks right round the top from which are views of such splendour that they were described in colonial times as “the best in the British Empire”.

“Whether walking or driving, there is always something to see. Wildlife includes leopards, although sightings are rare. More in evidence are giant butterflies and, on the lower slopes, baboons. Birdlife includes the long-crested eagle and the augur buzzard.

Accommodation on the plateau includes a luxury hotel, the famous Sunbird Ku Chawe, set at the very edge of the mountain; and a large camping site. Fly-fishing for trout is possible in season and horse riding can be arranged,” reads the Malawi Tourism website about the so many breathtaking places to visit in beautiful Malawi including Chingwe’s Hole.

Sunbird Ku Chawe
Sunbird Kuchawe photo not connected to this blog from http://www.africatravelresource.com/ku-chawe-inn/

Avoiding Sun Rays to reach Dziwe la Nkhalamba (pool for the elderly) on Mulanje Mountain

Dancing has its roots in Africa (parts of my first article published in 1996)

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Inu mayi ee, bwera, bwera ee, Sungamwana ee, uzamudalise ee….inu mayi ee, bwera, bwera ee” (oh you our mother yes, come, come yes, Keep the Child yes, bless this one yes….). –  part of a sacred Dziwe la Nkhalamba song by elders who held suspected Mibawa canes or walking sticks which might be a type of African Mahogany in English.

They would tap on the ground three times while moving their feet in rhythm with the sacred music while the seeds they wore around their ankles added more beats.

Music has been defined as the art of combining sounds or sequences of notes into harmonious patterns.  One tends to wonder if music can affect one’s soul which is the seat of emotion, sentiment and aspiration through dance, a movement of measured steps.

Dziwe pool
It took me more than an hour to walk up to Dziwe la Nkhalamba on a hot day so I had to rest twice as it was exhausting but worth seeing where elders used to dance and sing to summon a spirit called Chinsinsi Sungamwana they believed was in a pool to appear

Most countries in Africa use music in traditional rituals and rites to invoke various spirits which possess a host’s body, usually the dancer.

Drums are the main but not only instrument used, with the talking drum being dominant, conveying messages with each beat.  Only trained dancers and drummers would be able to comprehend the message projected.

Drums are common in Malawian traditional music with both men and women using these instruments.  Various dances are performed in rural areas for different occasions from maganje, nsembe to festive celebrations.

In the Northern region Vimbuza is a common dance in which spirits possess the body which shakes violently while using all muscles while following the beat of the music.

Only one who is guided by the spirit can perform this dance.  Watching vimbuza one can see some similarities with the 1980s craze which was known as break-dancing.  There was a certain movement in which one would shake the whole body from head to toe as if having a fit or being possessed.break-dance-silhouettes-file-eps-format-35775081

These were the robot and wave where one behaved as if they were having an electric shock.

Gule Wamkulu the secretive masked spirit dancers from Malawi were said to be sexually explicit in that song but no confirmation but anyway during the Kamuzu days till democracy many traditional songs became politicized with some even worshipping leaders.

Some can see some similarities between Michael Jackson’s  hit video ‘Thriller’ and some of Africa’s sacred masked dancers including the way he seemed to grab his front the way pop-star Madonna also did.

The yells and screams are also similar to some of Africa’s masked dancers so one can definitely conclude dancing has its roots in Africa with it touching the soul of the continent. Thriller

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egypt (KMT) where 3 ancient African Brotherhoods originated…sacred masks?

“The Ancient Wisdom is, in Africa, enshrined in a Brotherhood (a term used by them, but which embraces women as well). The Brotherhood they call Bonaabakulu abasekhemu might be translated as The Brotherhood of the Higher Ones of Egypt.

The Isanusi gives the grades of the Brotherhood as:

  1. The Pupil.
  2. The Disciple.
  3. The Brother.
  4. The Elder.
  5. The Master.
  6. Those who Know. (Isangoma).

Additionally, there are lay Disciples and lay Brothers.

“The Isanusi emphasize that the Isangoma, elevated though they are, represent the supreme development possible to humans on the physical plane.

“There are others, not of any Brotherhood, save the Brotherhood of All. They are called Abakulubantu (that is Supreme Ones or the Perfect Ones). These are ones for whom the necessity of rebirth has ceased; they dwell on earth in physical form by their own will and can retain or relinquish that form as they please,” partly reads The Theosophist of August 1927, p. 549-60).

Author Dom Pedro V in his book ‘The Quantum Vision of Simon Kimbangu: Kintuadi in 3D’ wrote “the African brotherhood Bonaabakulu Abasekhemu is considered the oldest and predate any traceable lineage of every other religious tradition on earth today.

“It goes back to approximately 3900 BC.  The next closest tradition in terms of of age would be Vedic tradition of India, which based on the Rig Veda, could be traced back to about 1500 BC, and even the Vedic tradition would appear also to owe some of its spiritual science to Kamit or Nsemi “,  wrote Dom Pedro V.https://books.google.mw/books?id=Jql8gymEI_kC&pg=PT42&lpg=PT42&dq=”Bonaabakulu+Abasekhemu”&source=bl&ots=Gv07nnhYIY&sig=hbSky-_h2esnk5UzV6Y-ObJoJzw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=PDjoVPqdD9XWaoOqgLAN&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22Bonaabakulu%20Abasekhemu%22&f=false

Bonaabakulu Abasekhemu is also re-written in Kikongo as Bana ba Nkulu abaSe N’semi hence: “Bona abakhulu base Khemu meaning We see or have seen (Bona) the great (Abakhulu) from KMT (Khemu) while an Elder is Mkhulu or Khulu.

In ancient Malawi the words Mbona and Bona came from -ona in Chichewa/Chinyanja meaning to see and KMT are abbreviations for Kumeta as in shaving mourners and initiation for a specific ethnic group and Kutema Mphini as in the incisions made for administering charms and herbs to the body.

Now Bana in Kikongo resembles ana in Chichewa which means children.

Bonaabakulu Abasekhemu” re-written in Kikongo as Bana ba Nkulu abaSe N’semi is explained in the book ‘The Quantum Vision of Simon Kimbangu: Kintuadi In 3D’ by Dom Pedro V.

The 1895 Kongo language dictionary defines Nsemi a maker of images, a sculptor & Nsema the creating, creation see sema”.  https://archive.org/stream/dictionarygramma00bentuoft/dictionarygramma00bentuoft_djvu.txt

Besides wooden carvings other sacred things including masks are carved by the Great One according to some online websites explaining the spirit world as in mizimu of some ancient African kingdoms.

In ancient Malawi there was BONA and MBONA with -ona meaning TO SEE and CHOONADI meaning the TRUTH hence akunena zoona as in he or she speaks the Truth… When enlightened the RIGHT EYE PROTRUDES and sticks out as in SHINING (KUWALA) more than the left one representing DARKNESS (MDIMA).

The RIGHT EYE (KUMANJA) and MANJA is hands sticks out like this “Osiris” statue unlike the LEFT EYE (KUMANZERE). Mbona Ostiriza (the last Seer) as in MBONA from -ONA to see and TOMASI BONA also with -ONA as to see has a right protruding eye like a SNAKE (Njoka) and not a left protruding one like a GOAT (Mbuzi).

They call that MASOMPHENYA (VISION) and being able to see what is hidden in the DARK like an OWL (KADZIDZI), the night-bird so the NGANGA as in asing’anga African doctors and healers can also see the MIZIMU (SPIRITS) who are hidden and also the MIZIMU YAMAKOLO (ANCESTRAL SPIRITS).

Words are also spoken briefly as codes. For example when they said bowa muntengo (tree ear mushrooms which grow on dead wood or trees) it would mean those who have ears, listen.

Bowa is a mushroom and mutengo is in the tree so mushrooms in the tree. And those who have eyes “see” not with the two eyes we know but with your “other eyes”….this we call masomphenya (vision) to see even what is hidden in the dark like owls created by the Great Spirit who is God (Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe).

According to Asar Imphotep in his blog, Kulu is also one of the words used for God in Africa with “Proto-Bantu /l/ was /d/, so it was KuDu.” What is interesting is that in Chichewa/Chinyanja Akuluakulu are the elders and mkulu is an elder hence sayings like akulu a mvula ya kale to mean the elders of old rains and mawu a akuluakulu akoma akagonera etc.

Then there is Gule Wamkulu as in the Great dance which is sacred and I don’t write about it since I’m ignorant and a child and there is the different Nguni’s Bonaabakulu Abasekhemu re-written in Kikongo as Bana ba Nkulu abaSe N’semi hence: “Bona abakhulu base Khemu meaning We see or have seen (Bona) the great (Abakhulu) from KMT (Khemu) while an Elder is Mkhulu or Khulu”- Nguni/Ngoni and the ancient god called KhuluKhulu” is some information that has been made available to this blog about their presence in ancient Egypt.

Like the Nguni/ Ngoni word Khulukhulu meaning “a grandparent of our great great-parents” then Akuluakulu amati is the great-great ones say.

And then there is something like “mawu a akulu akoma akagonera” (elders‟ words are always good advice) besides the popularMalawi proverb “Akulu ndi mdambo mozimira moto” (elders are fountains of wisdom that solve all problems).

In Malawi Bona and Mbona as in -ona also means to see and Akuluakulu means elders so Mbona was like a seer and some South Africans online explained that “the ancient god called KhuluKhulu has been distorted to be Nkulunkulu. Khulukhulu is a grandparent of great great-parents. “Bona abakhulu base Khemu means We see or have seen (Bona) the great (Abakhulu) from KMT (Khemu).

An Elder is Mkhulu or Khulu”- Nguni/Ngoni and since the words nsemi, sema and nsembe are different with Kikongo’s Nsemi meaning “maker of images” while -sema is to carve in Chichewa and nsembe offerings, I’m curious to know if such ancient African brotherhoods were connected to the ancient Nganga of Africa?

Of ancient Malawi Mbona’s graphic language and blog standstill

Photo taken from Ulendo series book for Standard 8
Photo taken from Ulendo series book for Standard 8

Those interested in ancient Malawi posts on this blog, some elements of ancient rites of passage and ritual were graphic and labelled “rude” today because of the language used and examples. 

For example when ancient Malawi’s Mbona said “amene ali ndi makutu amve” (those who have ears listen) he was not talking about the ears attached to our heads.

In Chichewa or Chinyanja ear as in khutu or makutu as in ears also means something some women stretch and this blog can’t post the Chichewa word here because it is considered swearing or cursing today.

The Tree Ear mushroom (Auricularia auricula) looks like errrrr…..that part but sorry this blog can’t  post the word either and neither could Mbona say it publicly but disguised. So when one said bowa muntengo that was the ear mushroom and the words “amene ali ndi makutu amve”.

Parts of the “magic” mushroom among others are used in an ancient recipe of ingredients to quickly stretch a certain part of the body. So in ancient Malawi “amene ali ndi makutu amwe” meant “woman listen.”

Mbona liked referring to women as “woman” which in Chichewa is “mkazi” or women (akazi) and in minibuses and on the streets of Malawi that is what most men say when talking about women and not only their wives or women.

His language was normal in ancient times but not today and his teachings, saying songs etc are graphic.

That is the Truth about ancient Malawi Mbona’s language and this blog is trying to analyze the language of other ancient cultures including the Abatwa or Abathwa who once occupied this ancient Malawi land so this blog will appreciate the sharing of information.

So for now this blog is at a standstill until appropriate words and translations are found….peace.Hand symbol

Of ancient Malawi’s not revenging but drinking water…in and out

A middle-aged man throughout his life has faced struggles and obstacles as he tries to make the most of his career and build a strong family with his wife and three children.

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Drinking water in and out photo from the Internet

He’s not rich and lives in an ordinary Malawi township with his family squeezing into a two-bedroom house. This is despite the fact that the man is very intelligent and shows signs of having a promising career.

The worker they employed from the village does domestic chores while his wife works to bring in a little something to improve their living standards. But there is one thing that bothers this man….he’s not happy because he has so many enemies including some who feed his beloved wife with lies.

Fed up the usually patient man decides to call a spade a spade and teach his enemies a lesson. Visiting his grandmother one weekend he narrates his plight but is surprised with her answer. The elderly woman tells him not to revenge but to forgive all those who wrong him by doing a strange thing.

She tells him not to be angry and genuinely forgive all his enemies then drink a lot of cold water so that he can urinate. Shocked the man looks at his granny and nodding her head she says that is a way of cleansing his system of all negativity and leaving the fate of his enemies with Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God).

According to the old lady when one argues or fights with their enemies they only attract more of their evil energies to themselves and that is destructive. She says the best thing is to chase the evil spirits by ignoring them and having a pure heart and cleansing oneself.

Touched after listening to his grandmother, the man then takes a deep breath and forgives all those who have wronged him before drinking a lot of water and symbolically removing all the anger and their energy into the toilet.

This oral story was told in Chichewa and has been translated into English to share with the world some untold ancient Malawi teachings about human relations.Image