Sunday, November 24, 2013

Black is not evil....it's the colour of rain clouds for farming


Black in ancient Egypt was said to be the colour of the life-giving silt left by the Nile inundation, 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. 

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. 




Sacrifice to Mbona from http://exploremalawi.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-to-make-it-rain-malawian-ancestral.html


Black for them is also the colour of their version of Mbona, a serpent spirit associated with Napolo flash floods.

But their claims have never been researched or investigated despite their existence for centuries maybe because such healers locally all grouped as asing’anga are viewed as ignorant, uneducated, primitive and backwards. So their stories remain myths and legends.

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.

“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.

“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."

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

According to http://www.livescience.com, the air around us is full of water in its gaseous form, called water vapor. When the air near the ground warms, it starts to rise, taking the water vapor along with it.

“The air starts to cool as it rises higher into the sky, causing the water vapor to condense onto atmospheric dust from volcanoes, car exhaust and other sources. The resulting water droplets and ice crystals coalesce, or join together, to form clouds.

“Unlike atmospheric particles that scatter more blue light than other colors (making the sky blue), the tiny cloud particles equally scatter all colors of light, which together make up white light. However, rain clouds are gray instead of white because of their thickness, or height.

“That is, a cloud gets thicker and denser as it gathers more water droplets and ice crystals — the thicker it gets, the more light it scatters, resulting in less light penetrating all the way through it.

“The particles on the underside of the rain cloud don't have a lot of light to scatter to your eyes, so the base appears gray as you look on from the ground below. This effect becomes more pronounced the larger the water droplets get — such as right before they're large enough to fall from the sky as rain or snow — because they become more efficient at absorbing light, rather than scattering it,” reads the Live Science website. 


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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 Sapitwa and the Sirius star.

.....watch this space.


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