Sunday, July 28, 2013

Understanding Freemasonry …. with George Nnensa (originally published in newspapers)

Do the names Sir Winston Churchill, George Washington, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Nat ‘King’ Cole, George VI, Harry Houdini, Henry Ford, Rudyard Kipling, John Wayne, Peter Sellers and Clark Gabel ring a bell?

Well, the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) lists these men among many others as famous Freemasons through the ages. UGLE describes organised Freemasonry as beginning with the founding of the first Grand lodge on June 24, 1717 at the Good and Gridiron Ale House in St Paul’s churchyard.

In Malawi, the Grand Lodge of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland website lists Lodge Nyasa based in Namiwawa as being established on August 6, 1903. We can also reveal that the Worshipful Master (WM) for the St George Lodge (one of the six Masonic Lodges in the country) in 2013 was George Nnensa.
George Nnensa current Worshipful Master for the St George Lodge

As for the origins of Freemasonry, globally, there is general agreement amongst historians and researchers that Freemasonry developed either directly or indirectly from the medieval stonemasons otherwise known as Operative Masons who built the great cathedrals and castles.

Those who favour the theory, say there were three stages to the evolution of Freemasonry including the stonemasons who gathered in huts or Lodges to rest and eat. These Lodges gradually became meetings for stonemasons to regulate their craft and eventually, and in common with other trades, developed primitive initiation ceremonies for new apprentices.

“As stonemasons were accustomed to travelling all over the country and as there were no trade union cards or certificates of apprenticeship, they began to adopt a private word which they could use when arriving at a new site to prove they were properly skilled and had been a member of a hut or Lodge.

“It was, after all, easier to communicate a secret word to prove who you were and that you were entitled to your wages, than it was to spend hours carving a block of stone to demonstrate your skills.  It is known that in the early 1600s these operative Lodges began to admit non-stonemasons. 

“They were Accepted or Gentlemen Masons.  Why and what form the ceremony took is unknown. As the 1600s drew to a close, more gentlemen joined the Lodges, gradually taking them over and turning them into Lodges of free and accepted, or speculative Masons,” states a theory posted on the UGLE website and based on information from Scotland where there is said to be ample evidence of Scottish operative Lodges.

A more recent theory places the origin of Freemasonry within a charitable framework.  In the 1600s there was no welfare state, so anyone falling ill or becoming disabled had to rely on friends and the Poor Law for support. In those days many trades had what have become known as box clubs.

“…….From surviving evidence these box clubs are known to have begun to admit members not belonging to their trade and to have had many traits of early Masonic Lodges. They met in taverns, had simple initiation ceremonies and passwords and practiced charity on a local scale.  It is possible that Freemasonry had its origins in just such a box club for operative Masons.”

Malawian Freemasons

Whatever the myths or theories, it’s a fact that Freemasonry has existed in Malawi for more than 100 years.

George Nnensa, as the Worshipful Master for the St George Lodge, is in charge of the Lodge during his one year tenure of office and acts as its chairman. The next position is the Immediate Past Master followed by the Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Chaplain, Treasurer, Secretary and Director of Ceremonies among others.

Lodge officers include a chaplain who leads members in prayer before and after meetings. Others are the steward, Inner Guard, Almoner, Organist, Charity Steward and Junior and Senior Deacons.

“The Master is elected by the Lodge members every year and is then installed into his office.  He is usually Master for one year and normally conducts ceremonies in the Lodge.  Being elected and installed as Master is the highest honour a Lodge can bestow on any of its members,” explains the tall and charming Nnensa.

According to him, the dress code is a dark lounge suit, an appropriate tie, a white shirt, white gloves and black shoes.  Aprons involve the Three Degrees in Freemasonry and are attached round the waist of the wearer.

But what exactly is Freemasonry?  With a smile, George describes Masonry as consisting of a body of men brought together for the “sake of mutual intellectual, social and moral improvement.”

“Masonry recognizes no distinction of religion and emphasizes the duties of citizenship.  Religious or political discussion is not permitted in Lodge meetings.  Masonry offers no monetary advantages and supports a wide range of charities, both Masonic and non-Masonic,” he says.

Other reasons some men are said to enjoy Freemasonry is a sense of Brotherhood where they are said to make new friends and acquaintances from all walks of life, every background and age group.

Nnensa also lists charity where they can contribute to deserving causes and education and knowledge as being attractors to the body as they “learn from peers and mentors and find out about the history and mysteries of Freemasonry.”

George emphasizes that there is nothing sinister about Freemasonry and he says he enjoys the company of his friends in the brotherhood as they always care for each other. 

He says on Open Days, their wives and friends are allowed to visit the Lodge and ask questions if they desire.  The Lodge in Malawi has members from all walks of life and mostly reputable gentlemen.

These days Freemasons are usually mentioned in religious circles in Malawi with some accusing them off all sorts of bad things ranging from Satanism to being blood-sucking vampires.

Most of their accusers are said to be women and children although Freemasonry has existed in Malawi since 1903 without any documented incident or complaint.

It is said to be an association with secrets but not a secret society.  It’s also believed to have some similarities with secretive African groupings (e.g. Gule Wamkulu) only for men but not labeled satanic.

Malawi has only six lodges compared to Nigeria with 43, South Africa 75 and Zimbabwe 14 internet sources show and none of them are registered as satanic churches.

According to, the Grand Superintendent and overseer of Scottish Malawi Lodges is “Brother Gordon Sheppard”.  Four local Scottish lodges are listed mainly Nyasa, David Livingstone and Viphya in Blantyre and Angoni in Lilongwe.

Masons are globally known for their charity work and in Malawi, among other things, they rebuilt classrooms at Lusako Primary school which was damaged during the 2009 earthquake in Karonga.

At the time, Sheppard granted the media an interview, he said Freemasonry traces its history to 500 years ago and started in Scotland. He also said the Freemasons follow a code of practice in life which starts with "a firm belief in Almighty God".

There are over 330,000 Freemasons in England and Wales with nearly six million worldwide.  In Malawi, there are about 200 Freemasons. There are also nearly 8000 Lodges spread throughout England and Wales.  - By Agnes Mizere

Overseer for Scottish Malawi Lodges is “Brother Gordon Sheppard”


  1. Replies
    1. What is " Illuminati"? Please explain to me as a fellow African because real Africans know some of the symbols they use are from secret societies in ancient Kemet (Egypt) and within Africa.

      As a journalist I've discovered Freemasons throughout the world to be already well-established because there is no short-cut to wealth but blessings from God and hard work. Witch-doctors who claim they have herbs to make people rich are liars and as long as us Africans continue believing such nonsense we will remain poor forever unlike our ancestors who were wise.

      I rebuke all witch-doctors online and those nyanga (goat horn) people who promise short-cuts to wealth because their source satan is a liar.

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    1. Shame to all fake Africans who insult the ancient history and symbols of Africa, they are a disgrace to the continent and keeping us backwards with their nyanga ways of instilling fear in people. It's not a crime to be rich and God can bless people just like he did our ancestors including the great ancient kings of Africa who had treasures like gold.

      Shame on those who want short-cuts to wealth and all nyanga people will fall just like their father satan.

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    1. This is my last warning to you COWARD who can't show your face.....GET OFF MY BLOG and post rubbish on yours. Shame on you!!!! GET OFF this blog, I don't need your rubbish here, you hear me? If you don't stop I will come after you.

    2. And stop disgracing us Malawians by displaying your ignorance on my's only you a Malawian wasting your time here but let me warn you that although I am a woman I will not be intimidated by you because you're doing all this to scare people off my blog.

      There are many so-called Masonic websites and Facebok pages globally but no one posts stuff like this the way you've been doing for some time.

      It's only you as a fellow Malawian being envious of a woman and cyber-bullying me. This is my last warning, you hear? Stop being jealous and GET OFF THIS BLOG.

  4. If they mean well and represent good, why all the secrecy about them? In my humble opinion, that tendency is what makes the movement susceptible to all the ignorance we have on the srreet!

    1. Hi Bic Witz, who has secrecy, the Freemasons or the sacred Gule Wamkulu also mentioned in the article?

      I doubt all Malawians know about the Nyau just like I doubt all Malawians know what happens in our various initiation ceremonies in the country because they're secretive.

      Boys are not initiated together with girls and ancient Malawi priesthoods as those responsible for nsembe at the rain shrines had secret rites of passage hence their code was shshsh sunga chinsinsi and the winged spirit of Chinsinsi Sungamwana etc.

  5. If they mean well and represent good, why the secrecy? In my humble opinion, that tendency is what makes them susceptible to all the 'hogwash' we have on the malawian street!

    1. Hi again.

      In some real African rites of passage or initiations those initiated were not allowed to reveal their secrets because they said it was no one's business unless they were harming people.

      For me God still reigns on His throne so what is a mere mortal being and fallen angels and afiti etc because NONE can compete with my LORD, thanks.

  6. interesting article Agnes. Although with certain things to do with societies its easy to be cynical, your article is believable. Koma i nthe end, we'll never truly know unless we enter that world, and advance to the highest echelons of the order. Just like with the various religions including Christianity...Thanks

    1. Thanks and I think the issues is me as a black woman being able to approach anyone as a journalist and report with permission.

      I don't understand why some Malawi men can't approach the Freemasons themselves and ask questions instead of trying to intimidate me as a woman.

      One would think a man can ask a fellow man but alas!

      From what I've gathered some of our Malawi men who send me SMS messages till this day because of this article can't afford membership fees or be able to chat with the azungu I also interviewed, thanks.

  7. Nice article.The main issue here is ignorance.Humankind fear what they don't understand,and up jumping to negative conclusions.
    Also from your posts I can tell that you believe in the existence of a diety that you call god and it's arch nemesis Satan. With this sort of mentality Africans stay misinformed and imprisoned in a self imposed mental box which prevents them from thinking outside of that have to remember man made god in his own image out of ignorance and fear.
    Now back to the masonic topic,the images you like to call "symbols" are basically WORDS or should I say hieroglyphs.It is certain people that have taken these words and misrepresented them to "symbolise" something else.

    1. Thanks for your response and yes there is a lot of ignorance especially in my country Malawi were lay people start trying to imitate asingánga instead of just sticking to what they know hence some bizarre beliefs.

      It's also sad how some want to challenge stories written by journalists instead of doing their own interviews.

      Some used to phone me yet they can easily contact the Scottish person I named in my article unless they're scared to approach white people.

      That story was my scoop like others and published in a newspaper and it took a lot of researching and investigating to contact them, thanks

  8. There is a lot you do not know Agness. I rest my point just there.

    1. Hi. Then it means I'm not a member but you are


Took this picture of children in Milange, Mozambique admiring visiting Malawian children

Tracing footsteps to lead me home

Greetings from the Warm Heart Africa, Malawi.

I'm a Malawian journalist who grew up in many countries including South Africa, Belgium, then West Germany, UK, Washington DC and New York in the US and I love New York.

Trying to come up with the production of my life and by compiling some of my 1000 poems into a book called ‘Tracing Footsteps’ to lead me Home with excellent photography.

I also plan to film award winning documentaries based on the history of this ancient land called Malawi and the mysteries of the Sirius star. this space.