Friday, January 10, 2014

Myths & Tales: 4 hidden ancient Malawi names?!

Took this photo of Mulanje Mountain from a different view

As the majestic Sapitwa peak stands tall as if summoning or inviting people to admire it’s beauty, the mythical 4 winds of Sapitwa quietly roar around Mulanje Mountain and its nearest water body in harmony with the black clouds as if to usher in rains so go some of the tales of ancient times in a Mulanje village.

 Myths and Tales are abundant in all regions of beautiful Malawi. But for now this blog can only manage to capture some unofficial and undocumented tales from Mulanje which is easier to do amateur research with using SMS, phone calls or visiting the place at least once a month.

The Embassy of the Republic of Malawi to Japan website defines our beautiful Malawi as “home to two magnificent world heritage sites, the Chongoni Rock-Art Area and Lake Malawi National Park. Malawi also possesses two forms of magnificent Intangible Cultural Heritage in Gule Wamkulu and Vimbuza dance.

However, Mulanje Mountain is not listed as a world heritage site maybe because it doesn’t qualify?  So far this blog has not found any information online showing that.
What is the name of the M'manga mudzi tree in English?  Found this one growing on an anthill
Another puzzle is why some Sapitwa healers use the name Mbona when there is one officially recognized Mbona in Mang’anja oral traditions. Those with funding can travel to Nsanje to enquire more.

According to Unesco on under the title ‘Khulubvi and Associated Mbona Sacred Rain Shrines’:

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.

In Mulanje and amongst many traditional healers from Mulanje including a few Lhomwe ones the so-called teachings of Mbona prevail. 

Sapitwa mizimu (spirits) healer explaining hand signs for nsembe (offerings)
This group includes the female mizimu ones of Sapitwa who deal with herbs but also spirits which have never been human and ancestral spirits.

Then there are the male nyanga ones of “Kuba” who deal with herbs but also charms and the so-called magical nsupa, the African wine kettle gourd and a few deal with the primitive and evil goat horn maula magical oracles.

Now when some of these healers claim to send their request to the 4 winds they chant several names which they have kept secret and no one bothered to ask them because their ancient history is not relevant.  

This blog has revealed some names:

Tomasi Bona                                          - North

Tagoneka Mbona                                    - West

Chandiona Gonekela                              - South

Nthanda mwana wa mwezi [Nthandi]   - East

And their meanings?: 

Tomasi Bona                     = the whole world in the hands/feast
    Tagoneka Mbona               = Like put to sleep
    Chandiona Gonekela           = It's seen me, put to sleep
    Nthanda/Nthandi mwana wa mwezi  = Sirius star like in nthanda yaku m'mawa African cross and child of the moon

    This is not official and not to be used elsewhere but an amateur way of compiling oral myths and tales as part of story-telling and with permission of the Sapitwa healer who told me she can't read and write. She can only read writings that look like hieroglyphics but experts need to confirm what exactly it is. 

    Another one of the so-called wandering one is Mpeula or is it Pewula or Mpewula and the name of the 3 other mythical “spirits” is being researched in an amateur way so it will take some time.

One of them is Dziwe Ntamba…….and another Ife Zonse.  

The third is not yet known and the meanings of the two will be explained once the whole oral story is told and the full name of the Dziwe one given and correct spellings published on this blog. 

So fellow Malawians if there is a Chichewa word spelled incorrectly please feel free to correct me, thank-you.
M'manga mudzi tree which literally means build a

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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.