Sunday, January 5, 2014

Myths & Tales: Ancient Malawi’s Kwakwananda (lizard) and Nsato (python) spirits?

Ancient sign representing two stars and fire...maybe Sirius
The elderly man is rather short wearing a faded blue jacket covered with dust on the shoulders and barefoot as he approaches a house in a certain African city.

His white hair stands out from far. Armed with a bluish plastic bag in his right hand with unknown contents, the owners of the house are alarmed with his disfigured appearance as both of his eyes seem to be on the sides of his head like a reptile, a snake to be exact.

These are some of the ancient tales deliberately updated to a modern day environment to create a feel of ancient tales of some people of this ancient land of Malawi meeting the so-called ancient elderly spirit of the mountain which back then symbolized good luck and rare.

This information is not for some lazy websites to share as news as they can do their own research by travelling into villages to get their own myths and tales. These myths and tales are only for interested people following this blog including in the global community.

When local writers want to, they can do their own research of myths and tales which would basically fall under the category of fiction.  It would be easier for them to get funding and provide more accurate information throughout the country, the way the Greeks and other ancient societies like ancient Egypt have done with their own myths and tales.

This blog is just a small amateur way of sharing some ancient Malawi stories told by Sapitwa healers of Mulanje but not to endorse them. This information is unique to this blog and only quoting Sapitwa healers through translations as they explain in Chichewa.

There are over 2500 types of snakes in the world made by the Creator but in today’s world all are regarded as evil.

This is why some have understandably deliberately erased some ancient African myths and tales about “snake people” who were believed to be spirits that have never ever been 100% human beings although they were believed to take human forms at times.

According to Sapitwa healers, in this ancient land of Malawi, the ancestors believed in lizard spirits (kwakwananda) which might be a monitor lizard but this blog is still investigating to figure out its English name and snake spirits (pythons, cobras or mambas) which spoke like human beings because they also believed when a person of royal blood passed on they were given a new body etc.

The so-called lizard ones were believed to be the newer “spirits” they claim while the python ones were believed to be the ancient ones which were mainly two male ones but one.

In their ancient and now called “primitive” beliefs, they claimed that there were different spirits in snake forms of deceased powerful kings and the most feared was the Napolo one of the ancient one of this part of Africa.

This Napolo which scientifically sounds like a landslide was believed to move in a straight line and removing everything in its path when is somehow moved from the mountain to water bodies.

It is also said the ancient people of this land would know when that would happen once their ancient ‘priests’ and ‘priestesses’ today called asing’anga but the nsembe ones (traditional healers of offerings) would apparently notice bubbling water before the so-called phenomenon happened.

Healers claimed if the offerings were accepted the bubbles at the mountain top would stop and if not, villages were warned in advance and none constructed ‘homes’ within its expected path.

So far it’s not only Malawi that had such beliefs about “spirits” that have never been human some in the West call “aliens.”

‘The Sirius Mystery’ is a book by Robert K. G. Temple first published by St. Martin's Press in 1976. It presents the hypothesis that the Dogon people of Mali, in West Africa preserve a tradition of contact with intelligent extraterrestrial beings from the Sirius star-system partly reads the unofficial online Wikipedia.
“These beings, who are hypothesized to have taught the arts of civilization to humans, are claimed in the book to have originated the systems of the Pharaohs of Egypt, themythology of Greek civilization, and the Epic of Gilgamesh, among other things. Temple's theory was heavily based on his interpretation of the work of ethnographers Marcel Griauleand Germaine Dieterlen. A substantial bulk of The Sirius Mystery consists of comparative linguistic and mythological scholarship, pointing out resemblances among Dogon, Egyptian and Sumerian beliefs and symbols. Greek and Arab myths and words are considered to a lesser extent.
“The “mystery” that is central to the book is how the Dogon allegedly acquired knowledge of Sirius B, the white dwarf companion star of Sirius A, invisible to the naked eye. Temple did not argue that the only way that the Dogon could have obtained what he understood to be accurate information on Sirius B was by contact with an advanced civilization; he considered alternative implausible possibilities, such as a very ancient, advanced, and lost civilization that was behind the sudden appearance of advanced civilization in both Egyptand Sumeria. He personally found the theory of alien contact more convincing, but he did not claim certainty about it,” further reads allegations about the Dogon of Mali on
In ancient Malawi myths, spirits that had never been human could be what some believe to be “aliens” while the others in ancient Malawi myths were once human including deceased kings.
The great Reverend Wallace Bozongwana in his 1983 book titled ‘Ndebele Religion and Customs’ wrote that in those beliefs a snake was clearly the “presence of the ancestral spirits.” 
“Indlondlo (green cobra) signifies the presence of the spirits of the royal families.  Some people say the snake is imamba (green mamba).  This snake belongs to the Khumalo clan and may be seen crawling on the hedge in summer.  It is said that its appearance means all is well in the home.  It is allowed freedom of the home and no one may molest or kill it.

“Inyandezulu is another green snake connected with the living dead of the abeZansi (south) group.  Umhlwazi (sand snake) appears to belong to the commoners while the brown house snake (Umabibini) does not choose. The snakes above nearly always herald good news, health and prosperity to the household,” wrote Rev Bozongwana whose grandfather was ‘high priest’ at the court of the great King Lobhengula, the gallant ‘Mountain’.

There are so many myths and tales in this continent of Africa which this blog cannot capture but in a little way this blog will share some myths and tales of Malawi in the absence of such legends and fiction online. This blog will also appreciate Malawians correcting spellings and terms if wrong.

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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.