Sunday, December 14, 2014

‘Ancient Malawi’s Mbona was against Mwabvi witch poison ordeals’

“It takes a witch (mfiti) to catch a witch (afiti) in the astral realm of ziwanda (demons) where evil spirits exist because both are dogs (galu).”
LESSON: Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) is above all mortal beings and evil spirits (mizimu) so why fear mortal man and not the immortal Creator?
Mwabvi tree photo taken from http://coincident.fallingrain.com/?v=ejhnRmDdUQ0,46UsaCkbTJk,Ieb7gJvF3o4,lJoRTpApoME,dlGLQQJp99I
Mwabvi tree photo taken from http://coincident.fallingrain.com/?v=ejhnRmDdUQ0,46UsaCkbTJk,Ieb7gJvF3o4,lJoRTpApoME,dlGLQQJp99I
If one travels throughout Malawi, they will discover that the majority of citizens believe that witchcraft (ufiti) exists and it’s not strange to meet many male asing’anga anyanga as in those specializing in charms and horns saying akhwiri nokumana to mean “witches we have met”.
So in a nutshell that in Chichewa means “ndakupezani afiti” meaning a witch has been caught and found by those who say they track them down and dilute their powers.
But many Malawians these days are against asing’anga giving Mwabvi concoction because they stress that sorcerers must live and it’s wrong to take a person’s life.
Another contributing factor is because in ancient times some royal families and healers used the Mwabvi ritual to get rid of innocent enemies who were not practicing witchcraft.
Today mwabvi concoctions are illegal and those who summon asing’anga to do such “cleansing” risk arrest.
African doctors today all grouped as asing’anga but called “witch-doctors” in Malawi have been in the news for several years now after efforts by some local NGOs to “stamp out witch persecutions in the country by launching a public education campaign against belief in magic and witches.”
An example of how the term "witch-doctor" has been used online to define people like this man whose name is not mentioned on http://malawilive.com/2013/02/a-program-to-eradicate-violence-against-suspected-witches-in-malawi/#sthash.uYglWHqS.f32796Jx.dpbs
An example of how the term “witch-doctor” has been used online to define people like this man whose name is not mentioned on http://malawilive.com/2013/02/a-program-to-eradicate-violence-against-suspected-witches-in-malawi/#sthash.uYglWHqS.f32796Jx.dpbs
The ancestors of this land believed witchcraft existed but did not believe that witches were more powerful than Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) so they counted on the Creator to protect them and expose all evil.
This is where the role of winged spirits (mizimu) believed to be close to the Creator and ancestral spirits (mizimu yamakolo) came in.
They also believed witchcraft as in ufiti involved bloodlines and happened within families especially the extended ones unlike what is believed today. Such issues were tackled by asing’anga who specialized in that area and had a specific name but unfortunately this blog does not have the name.
In ancient African traditional religions, witches could only be found where “evil spirits” were in the astral and not physical realm where mortal beings are supposed to be.
The teaching was that evil and good do not mix in the spiritual realm so for one to find evil they would have to travel to the evil realm among other things and also use the same evil demons to trace them.
So in other words the suspected witch accused of using evil and satanic spirits to harm innocent people including kutamba is tracked down by a witch who sees them in the world of ziwanda (demons) and uses charms to protect themselves in kukhwimarituals and other things.
As covens in witchcraft are said to involve a group are believed to fear those who “hunt” them down in the astral realm of evil spirits as such magic (matsenga) is said to only happen where there are demons (ziwanda) and not good spirits.
It is also said that covens have from 13 to more people with a “leader” whether it’s in a lichero (winnowing basket) “plane” or when travelling north to certain rivers to do their “rituals.”
Such wizards are said to use body fluids to propel their “flying baskets” and in many other rituals hence why women are usually encouraged to burn their sanitary pads, cloth or undergarments.
Normal lichero winnowing basket not used in withcraft
Normal lichero winnowing basket not used in withcraft
Such afiti are said to specialize in kutamba (a witch’s spell) and harming innocent people while the other type of ufiti involves sorcery where the narrow neck African wine kettle gourd dressed in beads and locally known as nsupa is not only used for protection but also to harm innocent people.
Afiti are also said to not react to stench like those of pit latrines or waste matter because many including the ones involved in kukhwima rituals do not bath because water is said to repel the power of such nyanga.
Some nyanga users are said to put ulimbo sticky sap inside their narrow neck African wine kettle gourd which works like glue for snaring birds but in the nyanga rituals it is said to work like a magnet and pull birds down so that it can be used for the nsupa or evil goat-horn maula.
Ulimbo is made from the seeds of a wild tree or “prepared from the milky rubber-like juice of some trees.”
This blog does not yet know which tree the nsupa’s ulimbo is sourced from but elsewhere among ordinary Malawians ulimbo is sourced from the nkhaze tree which grow very thick with branches covered in thorns or kachere tree.
“A long sterm of bamboo reed (Phragmites mauritianus) or nsenjere grass (Pennisetum  Purpureum) is cut some 3-4 metres  long, and on the tip the reed is smeared some plant latex (ulimbo) usually that taken from the freshly-cut inner bark of the Kachere tree (Ficus natalensis).  As with the use of latex in trapping birds, several other plant may be utilized to obtain the latex.  A winged termite may be used as bait.” https://books.google.mw/books?id=wKevAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA70&lpg=PA70&dq=ulimbo+tree+malawi&source=bl&ots=B3cKqIIu41&sig=CByKtySE1iBKGU0FSgX-k3UY6LE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=qzuLVK22MJL67Qb50YGwBA&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=ulimbo%20tree%20malawi&f=false
Plant latex used as glue photo from http://www.alternativeconsumer.com/2014/09/18/exploring-eco-friendly-glues-and-adhesives-a-sticky-situation/
Plant latex used as glue photo from
http://www.alternativeconsumer.com/2014/09/18/exploring-eco-friendly-glues-and-adhesives-a-sticky-situation/
Another tool this blog has been told about is the Ulongo clay pot but specifically the red clay one use as m’phika for washing nyanga tools or the face of ancient Malawi’s Malira Tapalia, one of the many ancient Nyangus.
Normally a mphika is used as a pot for cooking relish while mtusko is used for carrying or storing water among other items and mkhate is a large, wide-mouthed pot used for holding water for bathing as captured in this linkhttp://www.travelmalawiguide.com/ancient%20trade.html
Others use charms washed in miphika for self-protection and for ancient battles but were not considered to be witches (afiti). Such types of people used to claim they used the power of Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God).
This was also a major debate during Mbona’s era with colonialists capturing some of the debate and revealing their disbelief in their “Nyasaland” writings captured online.
In one document they wrote that “the chief superstition among the natives is the belief that the spirits of the dead can influence nature for the good or ill of the living, and those spirits are propitiated by making sacrifices (nsembe) to them, generally of native beer.
Latex glue photo not connected to this blog taken from https://www.tablix.org/~avian/blog/archives/2009/04/
Latex glue photo not connected to this blog taken fromhttps://www.tablix.org/~avian/blog/archives/2009/04/
This belief is specially strong as regards Mbona, who is considered to be the “patron saint “of his district, with control of the rainfall, and conse- quently the food supply. “Mbona lives in Mlawi hill, Avhich is considered sacred to him, but his ” temple ” is a hut in a thick clump of forest known as Kuluvi, in section C, almost at the foot of Mlawi. A woman lives in this hut who is known as Mbona’s wife. Offerings must be made in this hut only and must consist of blue or black cloth.
“The persons making the offering, or anyone who approaches the hut, must be clothed in blue or black. Europeans are not encouraged to visit this “temple,” and very few have done so.
“There are several versions of the history of Mbona which differ in many particulars, but the following notes were communicated by Ngabu and Chipwembwe (principal headmen), who are Mbona’s ” High priests,” and who received the tradition from their fathers.  ‘It is impossible to ascertain, even approximately, when the events occurred.
“Mbona probably is not credited with possessing any special powers himself, but he intercedes with “Mulungu ” on behalf of the Amang’anja people, when he is pleased, and leaves them to suffer from droughts and floods when they have neglected or offended him : —  “Mbona came from Mala we, Kukambiritiya.O) near the Achipeta country.
“His father’s name was Chingale and his mother’s name Chimbe. He had four wives called Sawawa, Samisanje, Chungwe and Tiza.  “Mbona came down to this country on account of a ‘ Mlandu ‘ regarding an accusation brought against someone of being a witch, to whom a headman named Msumpi ordered ‘ mwabvi ‘ to be given.
“The accused drank the mwabvi and did not die, so the headman ordered a feast to be given to celebrate the event, and Mbona refused to take part in it as he objected to the ordeal trial.  “He told the people that he had power from ‘Mulungu ‘ to tell when people were guilty and that poison was unnecessary. They wanted to kill him, so he ran away and came towards this country, and across the Shire into what is now Portuguese territory.
“He wanted to make a village at Zambawe in that country, and planted rice there which the people still grow every year. There is a peculiarity about this rice that it cannot be removed from the locality in which it was first planted by Mbona,” partly readshttp://archive.org/stream/handbookofnyasal00mala/handbookofnyasal00mala_djvu.txt
Official Mbono Illustration taken from Ulendo series book for Standard 8
Official Mbono Illustration taken from Ulendo series book for Standard 8
Malawi National Commission for Unesco in 2011 submitted that Mbona according to Mang’anja oral tradition 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”, further reads the Khulubvi and Associated Mbona Sacred Rain Shrines website onhttp://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5602/ 
In Malawi magic is defined as ‘matsenga” and all forms viewed as evil and not openly accepted by many cultures in the country. However in Europe and the Americas magic and witchcraft are defined differently with magic involving good and bad.
Maybe that is why some African doctors claim that dogs have witchcraft spirits and are able to see afiti when they walk passed so they howl and bark at them.
This is because in some ancient beliefs those who did evil in life were reincarnated into animals including dogs.  All those who practice ufiti or claim to catch or see them in the astral realm are also labeled dogs (galu) by Sapitwa and other healers.
However, in British mythology the dog is seen to be faithful, loyal seen to serve it’s master well. ‘Cabal’ wasKing Arthur’s trusty companion and symbolises how the animal has continued to be considered through to modern times whilst there are also many references to ‘Black Dogs’.
“Perhaps the most powerful universal belief associated with dogs is that they possess the ability of second sight. It is said that a dog can see apparitions and sense if death is imminent. This may be because we now know that the dog can sense chemical changes in the air, and it is known that the human body undergoes such changes close to death.
Cerberus (Greek: Κέρβερος, Kérberos) in Greek and Roman mythology, is a multi-headed dog which guards the gates of Hades , to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerberus
Cerberus (Greek: Κέρβερος, Kérberos) in Greek and Roman mythology, is a multi-headed dog which guards the gates of Hades , to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerberus
“Evidence abounds that supports this with dogs howling when the owner is ill. It is understandable then that to hear a dog howling has long been considered to be a death omen, and the same is said to be true if the dog howls by an open door.
“Just before the moment Abraham Lincoln was assassinated his dog is said to have howled and run about the White House. The explorer, Lord Carnarvon, discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb; he died in Cairo and his faithful dog is said to have died within a few hours.
“Dogs, being able to sense death close-by were also believed to be able to see earthbound spirits and ghosts, and this can be sensed when a dog snarls. Visions of dogs have also been seen and are indeed famous the world over commonly known as ‘spectral black dogs’. These dogs normally have flaming red eyes and are known as servants of the Devil. What seems to be common to all the sightings is that the person being hunted initially seems unaware of their presence until they actually meet.
“Horror stories indicate that the victim is often aware of them much sooner. They were thought to be most common in country lanes and in areas of wilderness in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Reports alleged that the hounds appeared to be restricted within an area as if bound by invisible walls, hedges, or roads. Perhaps one of the most famous is the ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The headless ‘Yell Hounds’ are alleged to have influenced his writing, said to appear only during twilight hours.
“These hounds were thought to be hunting either a person or a spirit, some believe it was the Devil. Yet some believe the quick moving hounds it is the Devil himself who is controlling the hounds, in some cases the huntsman. The idea of the hounds being out on a hunt is often an occasion associated with ‘black dogs’ also known as ‘fairy dogs’ (also known to lead people to safety on occasion).
Janie, a witch (mfiti) in the West who "takes her religion, Wicca, very seriously" according to  http://pvtimes.com/news/conversation-witch-helps-dispel-myth.html
Janie, a witch (mfiti) in the West who “takes her religion, Wicca, very seriously” according to
http://pvtimes.com/news/conversation-witch-helps-dispel-myth.html
“Contemporary conjecture indicates that such sightings or hauntings of black dogs accompany a ‘wild hunt’ which can be seen at key times of the year and some believe only on ley lines. The majority of apparitions have been reported in Cornwall (UK) and Devon (UK) but alleged sightings have been forthcoming across the British Isles,” partly reads http://www.mystical-www.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=266&Itemid=357
Now in Malawi when a dog has normal manthongo as in the mucus which forms crust just outside the inner eye and not a eye discharge because of an infection.
Dogs of ancient Egypt taken from http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/dogs.htm
Dogs of ancient Egypt taken fromhttp://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/dogs.htm
Our ancestors believed the ones appearing within the eyes meant spiritual headaches (mutu waukulu) or problems with the eyes or normal headaches and the one on the outer eyes meaning good luck. This manthango is like the ones dogs (agalu) have amongst other animals.
And this was the basis of the name Nyangu especially in relation to mutu waukulu and ulosi wakale as in ancient Africa prophecy and prophetesses also known as priestesses. This was part of ancient African spirituality involving the Creator but not witchcraft.
Some of the ancient Nyangu women had “magical” chants and “spells” to protect tombs which the communities back then thought was vital but not today.
In the West this is summarized as Black Magic and White Magic….terms many people of colour are not comfortable with.  In western nations what is called “Black magic” has traditionally referred to the use of supernatural powers or magic for evil and selfish purposes while White magic” has traditionally referred to the use of supernatural powers or magic for good and selfless purposes.
“With respect to the philosophy of left-hand path and right-hand path, white magic is the benevolent counterpart of malicious black magic. Because of its ties to traditional pagan nature worship, white magic is often also referred to as “natural magic”, partly readshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_magic
Some of these debates are captured in the Journal Article titled ‘UFITI. Foundation of an Indigenous Philosophy of Misfortune: The Socioreligious Implications of Witchcraft and Sorcery in a Central African Setting’ by E. R. Wendland.
In his classical study of the Azande of colonial Sudan, Evans-Pritchard (1937) distinguished between ‘witchcraft’ and ‘sorcery’ by their technique. He defined the former as the innate, inherited ability to cause misfortune or death and by contrast sorcery as the “performance of rituals, the uttering of spells, and the manipulation of organic substances such as herbs, with the conscious intent of causing harm.”
Jackal of ancient Egypt locally known as Nkandwe in Malawi http://www.museumofmythology.com/Egypt/duamutef.htm
Jackal of ancient Egypt locally known as Nkhandwe in Malawi and also in the Sapitwa “Book of the Dead”
http://www.museumofmythology.com/Egypt/duamutef.htm
“There is a recurrence of widely shared details in witchcraft beliefs cross-culturally. (1) Though human, witches incorporate non-human power. Witches are possessed by Satan; have pythons in their bellies; work with animals such as snakes, cats, baboons and owls, that they own as familiars; or witches themselves change into the shape of familiars. (2) Witches are nearly always adults. They may bear physical stigmata like a red eye, a Devil’s mark, or a special witchcraft substance.
“(3) Witches tend to become socially important in times of crisis, when all sorts of misfortune are ascribed to them. (4) Witches harm their own kin and neighbours rather than strangers. (5) Witchcraft is motivated by envy and malice, rather than by the pursuit of material gain. (6) Witches reverse usual expectations of behaviour. They work at night, commit incest, practice cannibalism, go naked instead of clothed, or may stand backwards when they knock at doors. (7) Witchcraft is nearly always immoral,” further reads http://what-when-how.com/social-and-cultural-anthropology/witchcraft-and-sorcery-anthropology/
But the laws of Malawi do not recognize witchcraft and those that accuse a person or label one a witch could find themselves in trouble with the law if they are not careful.
But so far this law seems to have applied to asing’anga with their ufiti beliefs and not other beliefs or religions that openly label people afiti.
“The belief in witchcraft in Malawi permeates all sectors. Most Malawians regardless of age, education or social position hold the belief that witchcraft exists and that witches are real. In a study by NSO (2008), 76% of sampled Malawian households said that they know of witches in their community, and 62% said they know someone accused of witchcraft.
“The Constitution of Malawi does not mention the word witchcraft in any of its provisions. However, it provides for the fundamental right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought and belief (Section 33, Constitution of Malawi). While the Constitution allows the right to belief, it prohibits any criminal activity or harm to anyone as a result of belief.
“In order to protect people from harm, the Witchcraft Act of 1911, prohibits witchcraft accusations towards anyone and the calling of witch finders by chiefs and individuals for witch hunts and cleansing. It calls upon DCs to summon chiefs that allow witch hunts. It is a crime to participate in witch hunts and to pretend witchcraft, which in effect, is not in tandem with the Constitutional right to a ‘belief’.
“The Act is, however, being reviewed by the Law Commission”, further reads a research paper titled ‘The Extent and Nature of Witchcraft-Based Violence against Children, Women and the Elderly in Malawi’ by Dr Charles Chilimampunga, Sociology Department, Chancellor College, University of Malawi and George Thindwa, Association for Secular Humanism which was submitted to The Royal Norwegian Embassy.
Witchcraft has created heated debates in Malawi as most citizens believe it’s real and some also talk of seeing them or being attacked by them.  However despite some disturbing things the forces of evil are known to do, the fact remains that Chauta, Mphambe, Namalenga (God) remains Almighty and everything else below the Creator and not as powerful as the One who sees all.
Golden jackal photo taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mammals_of_Eritrea
Golden jackal photo taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mammals_of_Eritrea

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Malawi media appeal for support for Mec on 2014 Tripartite Elections

PRESS RELEASE



Blantyre, 27th May 2014


We, the representatives of the Association of Malawi Media Owners, AMMO; the Media Council of Malawi, MCM; and the Malawi chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, MISA wish to appeal to all stakeholders to support the Malawi Electoral Commission, MEC, in its current efforts, as mandated by law, to resolve the challenges emanating from the Tripartite Elections.

We wish to support a process that is clear and that is aimed at avoiding failed elections because of huge consequences that would arise from such a failure.

We recognise the challenges that have confronted the Commission. We also recognise that MEC is legally mandated to manage the elections process without undue interference.  We therefore appeal to all players to give the Commission space to carry out its mandate as required by law.

If a national re-count of ballots is one way of resolving the issues that have come before the Commission, we urge all stakeholders to act diligently, responsibly and professionally.   In the event that this does not provide the solution, then a political solution should be seriously considered.

We appeal for calm and patience from all stakeholders including journalists and media houses for the electoral process to be fully respected and be given an opportunity to run its full course.


Signed:

A.S. Osman

Acting Publicity Secretary
AMMO Secretariat
BLANTYRE







Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Know this Mulanje healer along Midima road?

Playing with fire despite the paraffin I poured on both his arms and hands
Malawians who live or travel along the Midima road going to Mulanje please do this blog a favour and tell this healer who sits near the building in the photo above with his wife to phone Agnes Mizere, he should have her number in his phone.  
Please tell him his number and name was lost in a cellphone and he urgently needs to get in touch with Agnes.  
If he has forgotten the name show him the photo on the profile for this page. Thanks for whoever will assist it’s important and urgent as this blog does not have funds or transport to get there anyhow. Cheers.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Of donkey kicks, tail fly-whisks and minibus rides

Donkey kick photo as an example of one taken from:http://www.amazon.com/Donkey-Kicking-Back-Transfer-Material/dp/B009OQMO4G

It was a rainy dull day in Blantyre when I wanted to board a Highway minibus on my way to Limbe to run some errands.

As usual touts breathing into my face each tried to convince me to board the minibus they would eventually get money for and as usual I asked them not to touch me and they obeyed.

One then rushed to the minibus he was calling passengers for and opened the front door.  Noticing that the minibus was almost full I started boarding when I noticed a male passenger in the front seat quickly getting out and giving me way to sit in the middle.
I usually don’t like sitting in the front seats of minibuses and worse still in the middle but on this day I was exhausted and anxious to get to my destination on time.
As the minibus departed after a 20 minute wait with us passengers packed like sardines, I could not help but notice that the man next to me had a fly-whisk.
Man in the front seat of minibus with a donkey tail fly-whisk?
I gasped when I noticed it didn’t have a stick oh my and yes I didn’t grow up in the village but abroad so I was also shocked later with the stories he started telling me about donkeys throughout the journey.
In my mind I started debating how to ask him about his fly-whisk which resembled a wig and all sorts of fake hair in town. 
When he raised the fly whisk up I could not resist and asked him what the hell he was doing with a fly whisk in a minibus and what for.
He turned out to be a funny story-teller and told me about his ancestors and how they were fighters and from a royal family so he claimed.  But looking at his fly-whisk I noticed it looked different from the few I’ve seen in Malawi so I asked the million dollar question.
Côte d’Ivoire horsehair fly-whisk from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Horsehairflyswatter.jpg
“What is your fly-whisk made from,” I asked inquisitively and waiting for the answer which I did not expect.
 He answered “bulu [donkey]”.

Now curious, I noticed his fly-whisk did not have a stick and wondered how on earth he got it from those vicious scary kicking donkeys.

He answered me vaguely saying it’s easy but I did not want to know how and could only see donkeys kicking with their back legs!  When asked if he’s a sing’anga (traditional healer), he answered no and that he was only a carpenter so I was even more confused.
He then started explaining the behavior of donkeys, how it relates to other animals, beasts etc and how some in ancient times ate it and used its foot for disappearing acts when being chased or something like that.
What type of a donkey tail [fly-whisk] is this?
After explaining various concoctions we are left stunned in the minibus and some of us especially me trying not to laugh.
Confused and the minibus driver now listening in, I’m like how on earth can a person disappear so I conclude and laugh it off as “one of those Malawi matsenga (magic) stories” which are myths.
The man then caught us unawares when he suddenly said although he’s not a healer but had a dream of where to find a cure for HIV and Aids and that he found it and cured 25 people so far.
Immediately after that other passengers in the minibus rebuked him calling him a “mfiti” [witch/wizard] out to cheat people including the minibus driver and conductor while I told him bluntly there’s no cure for HIV and Aids but only for opportunistic diseases.
The man then claimed when educated people say they can reportedly cure HIV through “Garani MW 1Herb”many rush to buy it and believe but when a carpenter like him says so he’s accused of witchcraft.
The minibus suddenly went quiet as he kept saying Garani MW 1Herb with confidence and we just looked at him.  Before we realized it he disembarked from the minibus and not a soul discussed him as is usually the cases in minibuses after heated debates.
It made me think how under-rated most of our traditional healers are so instead many would rather buy or import well-researched Chinese herbs to sell to fellow Malawians.
Maybe it’s time to use Science and Technology in regards to herbs using labs and having a factory preferably in Mulanje if land is available?  Who knows but one thing is for sure, Malawi with its various mountains is known for various herbs but with a new anti-herb movement these days when it’s Malawians doing it, chances of local herbs for healing being taken more seriously remains very slim.
Ancient Egypt donkey painting taken fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maler_der_Grabkammer_des_Panehsi_001.jpg

This is one of many funny minibus ride stories I will be sharing on this blog after travelling in so many minibuses for years and learning so many things, myths and tales which I never hear when driving a car. Many story-tellers cheers to them.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Is the Vundulamadzi bird the African Fish Eagle?

The Vundula (to stir up) or Vundulamadzi (stir up the water) bird is pictured on pages 56 and 57 of the Ulendo series Mtunda 3 Chichewa for Standard 3.
 
Vundulamadzi bird in the Mtunda 3 book
African Fish Eagle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Haliaeetus_vocifer_-Lake_Naivasha,_Great_Rift_Valley,_Kenya-8.jpg

This blog wants to know its English name and to verify whether or not it is the African Fish Eagle?
Is Vundulamadzi a nickname for Nkhwazi which is a fish eagle and cries like “He-e-e in the same book? Is it also known for fishing (kuwedza nsomba).
The ‘Siyabonga Africa’  South African website on http://birding.krugerpark.co.za/birding-in-kruger-birds-and-muthi.html  titled Kruger Park Birding: Birds and Muthi (Medicine) lists the African fish eagle as being the most in demand as “all eagles are a symbol of power and will help one catch one’s prey or achieve specific goals.”

Other birds listed on that website include the Southern Ground-Hornbill (Nang'omba) for protection against lightning and the family among other muthi myths listed there.

According to the unofficial Wikipedia, the distinctive cry of the African fish eagle is, for many, “evocative of the spirit or essence of Africa. The call, shriller when uttered by males, is a weee-ah, hyo-hyo or a heee-ah, heeah-heeah”

According to the unofficial Wikipedia, the African Eagle mainly feed on fish “which it will swoop down upon from a perch in a tree, snatching the prey from the water with its large clawed talons. The eagle will then fly back to its perch to eat its catch.”

This species is quite common near freshwater lakes, reservoirs, and rivers, although they can sometimes be found near the coast at the mouths of rivers or lagoons.
Who read this book and is this the African Fish Eagle?
“As their name implies, African Fish Eagles are indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa, ranging over most of continental Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Several examples of places where they may be resident include the Orange River in South Africa and Namibia, the Okavango Delta in Botswana, and Lake Malawi bordering its namesake country Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique.

“The African Fish Eagle is thought to occur in substantial numbers around the locations of Lake Victoria and other large lakes that are found in Central Africa, particularly the Rift Valley lakes. The African Fish Eagle is a generalist species, requiring only open water with sufficient prey and a good perch.

This is evident by the number of habitat types that this species may be found in, including grassland, swamps, marshes, tropical rainforest, fynbos and even desert bordering coastlines, such as that of Namibia," partly reads the Wikipedia.

The African Fish Eagle is a species placed in the genus Haliaeetus (sea eagles).

It’s feet has rough soles and are equipped with powerful talons in order to enable the eagle to grasp slippery aquatic prey. While this species mainly subsists on fish, it is opportunistic and may take a wider variety of prey such as waterbirds.
They breed during the dry season when water levels are low. African Fish Eagles are believed to be monogamous - in other words, they mate for life.


NOTE:  This blog does not have photos of the African Fish Eagle but has used some from the unofficial online Wikipedia encylcopaedia with necessary links.






Sunday, January 5, 2014

Do Lizard Love Charms Work? By Agnes Mizere (First published in Fairlane Magazine)

Malawians is this monitor lizard called Kwakwananda here?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dada_Panchal_with_monitor_lizard_6_x_4.JPG

No…no…no! Our ancestors and "witch-doctors" got it all wrong…women should not use magic spells to control men, it’s evil and I will tell you why. 


Yes I’m aware love charms are as historical as Malawi itself but I have my reservations.


First of all, love the oldest emotion known to mankind should not be confused with lust! Simply put, love is a strong liking for someone or something; a passionate affection for another person; or the object of such affection.


Love is supposed to be natural, without barriers and affecting various sectors of society including cases where one partner is doing all the loving.  This has created an unusual need especially amongst some Malawian women just like other African ones to use external substances like charms to cast spells, control and magically induce love in cold men.



Instead most of these men are turning into zombies or becoming kind of brain dead!  Others end up hating the pursuer even more! The first such horror story I came across involves thirty-four year-old *Susan a married mother of two (a boy and girl) but a very lonely woman although she has all that she could possible dream of having: a beautiful home, cars, free air tickets for annual shopping sprees to Asia and Europe etc.  


Shockingly, this young mother still feels emptiness in her heart as she claims that the challenging very alert out-going man she married six years ago has now been replaced by a boring introvert whom she has to force to go to work.

Why? *Susan in the early days of their relationship rushed to get mankhwala achikondi  (love charms) from a witchdoctor in Thyolo where she received specific instructions to mix the herbs with her fresh faeces then mix them with relish especially dried fish like matemba, meat or beans.  Nasty!


Now chances are high that her ‘very obedient’ husband will soon lose his job because every morning he apparently clings on to his wife ‘like a maggot’ if I may use her own words.

Ironically, this has forced her to have an affair with a ‘younger more challenging’ man a college student?  One can only wonder what the point of all this was.  

What is disturbing is that *Susan is not alone.  More African women these days seem to be turning to love charms and spells to grab the men of their dreams.  Some are very satisfied.  In Area 18, 27 year-old *Nankhoma is proud that “her man sticks to her like glue or a zombie and they “definitely have a Till Death Do Us Part Affair.”

Her secret recipe?  The outspoken woman burns a small cloth soaked with her menstruation blood and mixes it with mankhwala achikondi  which she then conceals in relish.  Sometimes she uses a piece of thread from her underwear or blanket which is burnt then the ashes mixed with herbs to be cooked with nsima or chips.

You might be wondering what the secret ingredient in these women’s love charms is? Well many women in townships have been chasing after buluzi (lizards) thinking their tails are sacred love potions but my investigations show that it’s in the tail of Namakala Vamulango or Kwakwananda which sounds like a monitor lizard found in the hills of Nsanje and Chikwawa. 


The whole animal is bought but only the tail is pounded into powder or burnt into ashes for use.  It’s then mixed with 13 roots and barks with the animal parts being the fourteenth. These potions/charms which are believed to cause rapid weight loss, hair shredding and suspected brain damage involve blood which is unclean.

Imagine, some women somehow soak mawele  (millet) in their private parts until it sprouts after several days then they cook thobwa for their husbands to drink!  Talk of disgusting…on the other hand, I am told that there are other mixtures which do not involve body fluids or blood but two types of ground nyenyezi mixed with oils.

One is supposed to be the bark of a tree found at Sapitwa, the highest peak of Mulanje Mountain, with a glittering inside which shines when facing the sun.  The other is what some locals call nyenyezi (a star) which apparently falls at night only once a year during the month of October.  It sounds like a meteorite but in their opinion, the star is actually just a rock which shines brightly and when it hits the ground the whole area is well lit even though it’s at night.

Elders foretell a chief’s future using these while others call them ‘lucky stars’ which some women use when looking for a husband.  So as the hunt for the tail of Namakala Vamulango  still continues in the remote hills further down south, some look for falling stars while others are plainly opting for good old-fashioned real love in a give and take situation instead of using external factors for enhancement. 

Which one are you?


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.

.....watch this space.


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