Tuesday, December 31, 2013

'Sapitwa healers tonight await suspected Sirius star at midnight'

Took this photo when travelling in a minibus
Some women of Sapitwa who are basically healers who trek to Mulanje Mountain for offerings and other spiritual issues will tonight offer mapira (sorghum) sacrifices in an unidentified place on the mountain as they wait for what they call their nthanda yaku m'mawa which is their star from the east although another definition is the morning star but theirs sounds like Sirius.

This very bright star is expected to appear around the stroke of midnight and can easily be mistaken for firecrackers when visible. The star appeared above Blantyre last year in 2012 at exactly midnight sparkling brightly.

For the ancient healers of Malawi, this star was the same shape as their "primitive" African cross of the 4 winds of North, South, West and East and they played on this by associating all from the East as being from Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) now drawn with ufa woyera (white maize flour).

"Primitive" African cross made from white flour
This star in ancient Malawi was associated with a female spirit of Sapitwa whose name remains hidden for now. According to a female Sapitwa healer, their star now symbolizes the birth of a new year.

Meanwhile, the unofficial Wikipedia online describes the Dogon people of in Mali, West Africa, reportedly having “traditional astronomical knowledge about Sirius that would normally be considered impossible without the use of telescopes.

“ According to Marcel Griaule's books Conversations with OgotemmĂȘliand The Pale Fox they knew about the fifty-year orbital period of Sirius and its companion prior to western astronomers. They also refer to a third star accompanying Sirius A and B. Robert Temple's 1976 book The Sirius Mystery, credits them with knowledge of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. This has been the subject of controversy and speculation,” further reads the Wikipedia.

And in the religion of the Serer people of Senegal, the Gambia and Mauritania, Sirius is called Yoonir from the Serer language.

“The star Sirius is one of the most important and sacred stars in Serer religious cosmology and symbolism. The Serer high priests and priestesses, (Saltigues, the hereditary "rain priests") chart Yoonir in order to forecast rain fall and enable Serer farmers to start planting seeds. In Serer religious cosmology, it is the symbol of the universe,” adds the unofficial Wikipedia.

Despite the myths and tales associated with the suspected Sirius star, science seems to confirm only one fact; that it is expected to appear today just like other New Years.

According to Earth Sky science news http://earthsky.org/tonight/star-sirius-torchbearer-of-the-new-year  “Sirius in the constellation Canis Major – the legendary Dog Star – should be called the New Year’s star. This star – the brightest one in our sky – celebrates the birth of 2014 and every New Year by reaching its highest point in the sky around the stroke of midnight. That’s the case this year, and every year.”

The same websites states that “Sirius is highest in the sky at midnight every New Year’s. Astronomers call this a midnight culmination of Sirius. As the New Year rings in, Sirius is at its highest. By midnight, by the way, we mean the middle of the night – midway between sunset and sunrise….as evidenced in an image credited to Yuuji Kitahara and posted on http://earthsky.org/brightest-stars/sirius-the-brightest-star
Taken from Earth sky website, not sure about copyright
“So Sirius will reach its highest point in the sky at midnight New Year’s Day, at the birth of the New Year. Look for Sirius – at midnight culmination – highest in the sky around midnight every New Year’s Eve!,” further reads the same Earth Sky website.
Happy New Year everyone no matter what your religion or beliefs are…much love and peace and good to know this land once had “primitive” science so much respect to the female Sapitwa healers for their knowledge!

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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.