Category Archives: Sapitwa Mythology

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

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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.”

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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.

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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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Ancient Malawi Beer for the living, the dead & spirits (mizimu)

*Note: I’m still still researching ancient Malawi beer and this is unfunded amateur and not scholar work in response to a few Malawian men who have been attacking me and trying but failing to discourage me from blogging about priestesses.  

I will be seeking funding to enable me travel to different places of historical interest and make this blog more professional as it has been my hobby and passion for years despite what a few men who hate the role of women in ancient Malawi say.

Beer sorghum

Eat, drink and be merry with local beer (mowa wamasese) and ncwala which fills the tummy?

In Egypt, beer was regarded as food. In fact, the old Egyptian hieroglyph for “meal” was a compound of those for “bread” and “beer”. – http://www.beeradvocate.com/articles/629/

Beer, called hqt (heqet) in ancient Egypt reportedly included malt and so did the Nguni’s called “imithombo (malt), maize and mabele” according to a South African Facebook friend.

And an African-American Facebook friend said “malted barley flour is made from barley that is malted (e.g. barley that is allowed to germinate), steam-dried, hulled, then ground and sifted.”

Beer drinking
Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs for day of drunkenness shared on Facebook

THEKA, THEKA (HALF, HALF) – MEASURING THE MALAWIAN “SCALES”

Some ancient healers of Malawi in various rituals including oracles would say THEKA THEKA (HALF) in the Chinyanja language similar to balancing scales which was done by the one in the centre.

This meant the one in the middle balanced the left and right side to be able to “see” the spirit world.

Now when some ancient priest-hoods (ansembe) used Ufa (flour) as a nsembe offering, it was in a cupped hand as K and also measured as THEKA THEKA (HALF, HALF).

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THEKA, THEKA (HALF, HALF) measuring ufa (flour) in the palm – Photo by Agnes Mizere

If the scale spiritually balanced then they would say the person is balanced but if it tilted they would read further into that person using their belief systems.

So we have Theka as half -theka as in zitheka as to mean to be possible so using those words we can also say So Mote it be…it’s possible Ase.

The Theka, Theka meaning Half, Half measurement was done in the palm of the hand to measure ufa (flour) for nsembe offerings and to also measure and weigh the ingredients for making local beer in relation to the spirit world.

Tekha in ancient Egypt was also the weigher, the pointer of the scales according to the online book ‘The Sound of Meaning:  Comparative Linguistics of Ancient Egyptian, Maya and Nahuatl’ by Charles William Johnson who on p13 defines “Mexican” as an “Aryan language closely akin to Sanskrit and Avestan but more primitive than either, in fact Aryan of the proethnic period.”

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Last judgement of Hunefer before Osiris, Book of the Dead, Hunefer’s tomb at Thebes, Egypt, Dynasty XIX, c. 1285 BCE, painted papyrus online photo

But unlike the Mexican analysis of Johnson, ancient Malawi’s Theka applied both to measuring grain flour and alcohol contents on top of the judgment of the heart.

Mtima wabwino kapena woyipa meant a good or bad heart to mean a good or evil person in ancient beliefs.

For figuring out oracles they would observe and sense a person’s heart to see what emotions were inside based on their belief system and they would also study the right and left eye to try and read into the person’s soul together with the hidden heart.

Gone are those days but still worth recording as ancient myths as nature had rock scales which ancestors from priesthoods studied but it’s not known if Sanjika Rock where John Chilembwe spent time was a balanced Rock used in ancient times.

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Sanjika Rock where John Chilembwe spent time. Kamuzu’s Sanjika Palace also has the same name. Photo by Agnes Mizere

Imwa thapysa muyezo as in kulezera mopitirila (drunkenness) also meant measuring and weighing the scales and kondwererani in ancient times whose equivalent in English is eat, drink and be merry.

Muyezo is usually defined as a “measurement standard” so the meaning was for one to enjoy their life as much as they can before they leave this world.

The beer for the living, dead and spirits (mizimu) involved the spirit of Mikolo Njinjinji (Sacred African Ibis) and Mbona of the West wind as in black and the grey clouds for rain among others and not the Mbona known by most Malawians but the one from centuries ago who had a hidden name.

Mbona is usually broken down as in –ona as in to see and a different spirit from Bona of the North wind also known as Napolo hence Tomasi Bona.

Their colour was green for agriculture and sacrifices included traditional beer for 20 f the left side and 20 of the right making a total of 40.

Women are usually given a ‘due date’ for their baby that is calculated as 280 days after the onset of their last menstrual period which is roughly 40 weeks though not exact but representing life (moyo).

The known Malawi was in the Ulendo Series Mtunda 8 Chichewa for Standard 8 book published by Dzuka Publishing Company in 1982 but the one connected to Bona has never been written about before and he is one of many said to be at the hidden Sapitwa kingdom and not the rock peak some tourists climb.

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

In ancient Malawi there were mainly two groups of spirits ranging from mizimu yamakolo (ancestral spirits) to mizimu (spirits) which have never been human including the winged ones.

Now in the Chichewa or Chinyanja language of Malawi the word -kondwa means happy and -kondwera is be pleased so in a nutshell -kondwa also means merry as in to be merry.

Some Malawian men who enjoying drinking in taverns describe Chibuku as the sorghum beer that makes them merry and full hence they say “kondwererani” ndi mowa wa Chibuku chifukwa umakhutitsa”.

Chibuku
Chibuku Shake Shake photo taken from https://intomalawi.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/chibuku-shake-shake/

According to online sources Chibuku, the traditional sorghum opaque beer is made from sorghum and some barley malt.

Strangely, there are no websites defining or giving the history of Malawi’s mowa wamasese (local beer) or ucwala so this blog uses the commercially known type captured online.

“Chibuku was first brewed in Zimbabwe in 1962. Chibuku, a market leader in the sorghum beer category is a traditional sorghum opaque beer brewed with the finest maize and sorghum locally grown in Zimbabwe”. – http://www.delta.co.zw/trad/chibuku

However the ‘Zulu Beer – Utshwala besizulu’ website is more defined explaining how the alcoholic beverage is brewed mostly by women over a three day period and it’s ingredients include 1 kg malt (umthombo wombila), 4 pkts 1kg malt (umthombo wamabele), 1 kg mielie meal and boiling water. – http://ulwazi.org/index.php/Zulu_beer

Beer was a very important Egyptian drink and the staple drink for adults and offering to the gods and dead wrote Caroline Seawright in 2001 on http://www.thekeep.org/~kunoichi/kunoichi/themestream/egypt_alcohol.html#.Vqy7UPl97IU

In ancient Egypt becoming drunk was TEKHU drink TEKHAU drunkard TEKHTA habitual drunkard TEKH the “drunken” festival TEKHAIT, TEKHIT drunkenness TEKH to drink, to drink oneself drunk which also sounds like Tequila the Mexican drink according to other websites.

In the Eber Papyrus “Half an onion and the froth of beer was considered “a delightful remedy against death,” according to the Crystalinks website under Ancient Egyptian Medicine

“Tekh, a holiday which translates to “drunkenness”, observes the myth of Sekhmet nearly destroying mankind but ceased upon intoxication. In Ancient Egypt Tekh was allegedly celebrated through intoxication in addition to rituals.

“In the temple of Dendera the ritual for Tekh spanned five days which included a procession of Het-Hert to the temple roof,  returning back to Her shrine slowly, then the procession of the Dendera Ennead to the temple roof for the ritual of uniting with the sun disc.

“The laymen during this time, if they could manage it, would also celebrate.  There are records of drunkenness in the temple so worshipers would get closer to Sekhmet through intoxication” according to https://upholdingmaat.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/a-semi-nifty-tekh-guide/

 

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Photo from Pinterest on http://www.pinterest.com

 

Month 1; Tekh (Thoth, Thuti, Thout, Djwhty)

10            procession of Isis (Late Period)

15            Hapi and Amun

17-18      Wagy or Wag

19           Wag and Thoth. festival

20          Tekh (drunkenness)

22          Great Procession of Osiris.

30          Osiris and Ennead

Further reads http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/festivalcalendar.html

“In a myth about the end of Ra’s rule on the earth, Ra sends Hathor or Sekhmet to destroy mortals who conspired against him.

“In the myth, Sekhmet’s blood-lust was not quelled at the end of battle and led to her destroying almost all of humanity, so Ra poured out beer dyed with red ochre or hematite so that it resembled blood. Mistaking the beer for blood, she became so drunk that she gave up the slaughter and returned peacefully to Ra”, according to http://www.greekmythology.com/pictures/Myths/The_Myths/127796/sekhmet/

Cover Sekhmet RGB - Kindle
Many have written about ancient Egypt’s spirits 

 

 

 

 

 

Tales & Myths: The ancient one of Africa…from Dziwe la Nkhalamba to Mt Namuli?

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He appears barefoot and dressed in a faded blue jacket dusty on his shoulders, torn trousers but a grin on his wrinkled face which seems to tell a story.  His white hair gives away his age and his eyes seem deformed as if on the sides of his face as he asks in a Portuguese accent for a person by their name.

This gives those nearby the impression he’s from Mozambique but for some who believe the myths of “Kuba” and have creative minds, they suspect the healer before them with a plastic bag associated with asing’anga (traditional healer) is the one from this mysterious “Kuba.”

You see the elderly man is among healers in a Malawian village but his confident and authoritative presence no matter how shabby makes the others stare at him,wonder in fear and remain silent.

Some elders in Mulanje talk of an elderly man appearing at Dziwe la Nkhalamba and clothes in the form of robes somehow mysteriously appearing on rocks. Such myths are hard to believe but for those who believe in ancient tales, that pool is a valuable place in remembrance of their history which is long forgotten and gone.

According to them, the said elderly man no longer appears there because the ancient ways of this land were stopped and the ancient rain shrines of Mulanje mountain have been buried with the past. Some who dare mention mizimu (spirits) or mizimu yamakolo (ancestral spirits) in this modern age are scorned and some descendants insist all their ancestors were evil so their history irrelevant.

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Source: Archeologist Menno Welling when with Catholic University of Malawi

A few years ago, 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.

Shrines and sacred sites in Malawi have been in existence since 1500 A.D according to information posted on a http://whc.unesco.org, a Unesco website.

“They were used by our ancestors to offer sacrifices to their Mphambe (God) in times of drought or other calamities. These sites are spatially located in different areas throughout Malawi.

“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….

“The sacred sites attract wide range of people from different cultures to perform various traditional practices and expressions such as initiation for young boys. These sites are embedded with traditional cultures where a variety of people gather to offer sacritices in form of beer and other food stuffs. People from different communities gather millet that is used to brew beer to be used during the day of ceremony. Particular traditional songs are sang during the day seeking assistance from spirit of Mbona,” further reads the Unesco website.

And before this ancient land Malawi had borders and boundaries, it is believed several mountains and hills were of importance to the inhabitants and their African high priests and priestesses worked closely with kings but are today all grouped as ordinary traditional healers or wrongly called “witch-doctors”.

Some of the healers of Malawi mostly differentiate each other and their work with two words, mizimu (spirits) and nyanga (magical charms including horns etc).  Both are also involved in healing but for different reasons and causes.

Now the healers specializing in spirits whom some incorrectly call ‘gods’ believed mountains and hills were the source of rain and the astral home of all spirits…those who lived on earth and those they say have never ever been human.

These ancient priests and priestesses played a role in rain shrines and were in the forefront of several traditional ceremonies including those who went through some royal ancestral spirits to send messages to Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God). Others spoke of royal spirits which some wrongly describe as “gods” or “aliens” occupying two mountains in the now Sadc region.

But the tales of “Kuba” have been passed down through generations of Sapitwa healers and for them that is where Mt Namuli in Mozambique is. They claim Mt Namuli has an astral realm where they claim the elderly spirit and his “creatures” or “beasts” in their so-called big kingdom are and they also claim that Mt Mulanje and it’s Sapitwa peak has a hidden astral realm whose entrance is protected.

To date some of these myths and tales are quietly told in some Mulanje villages by a few who keep their oral history alive and close to their hearts.

What is needed is to travel to Mozambique near the Mt Namuli area and Mocuba to find out from the elders there the myths and tales of that mountain to compare both oral history stories.

If the stories are the same, then perhaps one could conclude that Mulanje mountain and it’s Sapitwa peak and Mount Namuli with the highest peak in the Zambezia Province of Mozambique were indeed sacred in this region during ancient times.

If not then it’s just one of those many myths and tales told in some villages without factual evidence but the kind of stuff for good fairy-tales and fiction movies! The past is gone forever but still documented in many other countries as part of its ancient history. Why not document ours more with all its tales and legends?