Friday, December 6, 2013

Comet Ison, like a falling star...or bright like Sirius?

Author TRAPPIST/E. Jehin/ESO
In ancient times in this precious land called Malawi, elders and their healers especially the high priests and priestesses believed what we now call comets, meteorites, asteroids etc are like falling stars (nyenyezi).
Some were viewed as good-luck charms when scrapped and found on the ground while others were viewed as omens, depending on how they fell.
This was unlike what we now call the Sirius star (Nthanda yaku m’mawa) which is said to be brighter than the Sun and twice as massive and for the ignorant mind looks like a cross in the sky.
Sapitwa healers talk of what sounds like a Sirius star which appeared in Malawi in 2006 but not as high as it usually does around December 31 on New Year’s eve they claim.
This one appeared in the west and glowed brightly and low like a cross in the sky scaring some people back into their homes. This author however cannot verify that really was the Sirius star but only that healers call it the cross from the east in their primitive beliefs.
According to, while studying Sirius in 1718, Edmond Halley discovered that stars move with respect to each other. “There is conflicting evidence that Sirius appeared more red only 2000 years ago.”
According to Earth & Sky online, the star name Sirius seems to come from an ancient Greek word for “scorching” or “sparkling.”
“Early Egyptians noticed that Sirius always rose before the sun just before the annual flood of the River Nile. This yearly flood was important to Egyptian agriculture — so the return of Sirius was a welcome event.
“Meanwhile, early Greeks and Romans had a different impression of the Dog Star. At this time of year, Sirius travels across the sky with the sun during the daylight hours. The ancients believed that the combination of the sun and Sirius actually caused the hot weather. The dire influence of the Dog Star was said to cause fever in men — and madness in dogs.”
The Dogon who occupy a region in Mali, south of the Sahara Desert in Africa and live in the Homburi Mountains near Timbuktu also had advanced knowledge about Sirius.
Other stars Sapitwa healers looked for where those they believed symbolized the death of an important chief and would shoot to the left they claim.  Depending on the direction of the shooting star, they claimed to be able to figure out the location of the said “king”.
For them they believed that Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe  etc (God) created the universe and everything in it but they also believed shooting stars foretold events and they would spit to the ground and step on it as if removing dust whenever they saw one.
When shown photos of Comet Ison online in the past few weeks, some of the Sapitwa healers claimed it was a shooting star heading to the west.  Last week, the internet was full of stories that the comet had died.
Just prior to its closest approach to the sun on November 28, Comet Ison went through a major heating event, and likely suffered a major disruption, said the Nasa website.
At the time, scientists were not sure how much of the comet survived intact but agreed Ison was destroyed. Nasa will in the coming weeks monitor the comet.
But as usual debate continues on Social Media with some claiming Comet Ison is a UFO or like the star of Bethlehem with some religious figures claiming it symbolized the birth of a new king.
However for the few uneducated female healers of Sapitwa, Comet Ison was like a falling star which does not symbolize birth but the fall and passing on of a powerful person like a mountain.

In some ancient African cultures including in Reverend Wallace Bozongwana's 'Ndebele Religion' book, his grandfather who was the 'high priest' at the court of King Lobhengula "was with the King up to the bitter end and could recall the events leading to that memorable dark morning over the Shangani River when the gallant 'Mountain' was demolished while he gazed in horror."

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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. this space.