Thursday, January 16, 2014

Of Primordial Mounds and M’manga Mudzi anthills?

M’manga Mudzi anthills of Malawi with trees growing out
Travelling through some parts of Mulanje, one is bound to see at least three unidentified trees apparently growing out of anthills which actually are termite mounds if one may call them that.

These anthills are called M’manga Mudzi which literally means build the village or guess one can say foundation.

Now this kind of tree which grows out of an anthill with its roots showing is said to be found at Sapitwa, the highest peak of Mulanje Mountain if what the healers say is anything to go by.

This blog has never visited Sapitwa and has no idea what kind of trees are there.  But if there is anyone who recognizes this tree growing out of an anthill please share it’s English or scientific name.

There also seems to be some kind of Sacred Science when a female Sapitwa healer explains things about their “spirit world” which seems to include a god and goddess.

Part of their myths and tales claim some ancient people believed there was some kind of a Primordial Mound where life sprang from somehow on termite hills.

This blog uses the term “Primordial” as it is defined online as the “existing at or from the beginning of time; primeval.” 

According to a Mang'anja female Sapitwa healer some of the ancestors of this land believed life sprang from a mound which somehow had a serpent spirit which would appear as a human being or something like that.

In several ancient African societies those of royal families were believe to be given new bodies as serpent spirits when they passed on and these were usually the upright cobra, mamba and python. Not as the ones we see on earth but the so-called spiritual ones which spoke like human beings.

And in their ancient beliefs they claimed that their god had 7 spirits and of these 4 had a positive charge and were male on the right of the African cross while the 3 with a negative charge were said to be female.

African cross drawn with white flour
In the Sapitwa mythology, ancestral spirits of the dead live in the astral realm of Mulanje Mountain and spirits which have never been human so go the tales.

Of these are 7 spirits guided by their god of which four are believed to mythically control what is believed to be 4 winds used by healers to send requests with incense.

In the myths the royal spirit family consists of Tomasi Bona of the North wind of their god, Tagoneka Mbona of the West wind, Chandiona Gonekela of the South wind and Nthanda mwana wa mwezi [Nthandi] of the East which in English would be the Sirius star and child of the moon.

These four include the ancient Malawi god of rain and rain shrines are believed to be on the mountain. 

One Mt Mulanje view during a workshop
Chandiona Gonekela was summarised as it's seen me put to sleep and Nthanda mwana wa mwezi of the East which in English would be the Sirius star and child of the moon.

In Chichewa Nthanda yaku m'mawa means the African cross from the east and mwezi means the moon both seen in the sky and drawn by the ancestors of healers of this land so go the tales.

The other three spirits include a name which sounds like Dziwe Ntambamwana named after a pool/witchcraft but not to be confused with the Ntambanana River in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and Ife Zonse meaning something like us all. The last is Sungamwana meaning keep the child for good.
Circle in a cross representing the African ancient one

Now according to the unofficial Wikipedia a hydrogen atom is an atom of the chemical element hydrogen.

“The electrically neutral atom contains a single POSITIVELY CHARGED proton and a single NEGATIVELY CHARGED electron bound to the nucleus by the Coulomb force. 

Atomic hydrogen constitutes about 75% of the elemental (baryonic) mass of the universe," reads

“In everyday life on Earth, isolated hydrogen atoms (usually called "atomic hydrogen" or, more precisely, "monatomic hydrogen") are extremely rare.
“Instead, hydrogen tends to combine with other atoms in compounds, or with itself to form ordinary (diatomic) hydrogen gas, H2.
"Atomic hydrogen" and "hydrogen atom" in ordinary English use have overlapping, yet distinct, meanings. For example, a water molecule contains two hydrogen atoms, but does not contain atomic hydrogen (which would refer to isolated hydrogen atoms)…..Hydrogen atoms are so reactive that they combine with almost all elements,” partly reads the unofficial online Wikipedia.

What is interesting is that termites chew up the wood of trees which their gut microbes digest for energy with a huge amount of hydrogen gas coming from other bacteria in the termite gut community, other internet sources show.

“These hydrogen-producing bacteria pull hydrogen atoms off of cellulose (from the wood the termites chew) and put the H atoms together as H2 because the gut has no oxygen to accept the H electrons,” partly reads

Meanwhile Wikpedia on
reports that the US Department of Energy is “researching ways to replace fossil fuels with renewable sources of cleaner energy, and termites are considered a possible way to reach this goal through metagenomics.
“Termites may produce up to two litres of hydrogen from digesting a single sheet of paper, making them one of the planet’s most efficient bioreactors. 
Termites achieve this high degree of efficiency by exploiting the metabolic capabilities of about 200 different species of microbes that inhabit their hindguts.
The microbial community in the termite gut efficiently manufactures large quantities of hydrogen; the complex ligno cellulose polymers within wood are broken down into simple sugars by fermenting bacteria in the termite’s gut, using enzymes that produce hydrogen as a byproduct. A second wave of bacteria uses the simple sugars and hydrogen to make the acetate the termite requires for energy.”
Other information available online suggests mounds could indicate underground water. The unofficial Wikipedia talks of Varaha Mihira (505 AD- 587 AD), an Indian astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer, in his treatise "Brihat Samhita", refering to Dakargala (Sanskrit word meaning “science of underground water exploration”), in which he elaborately explains the value of termite mounds as an indicators of underground water.
“In Verse.S.54.9 of the Samhita, it is stated that sweet ground water would be found near a termite mound located east of a jambu tree (botanical names - Syzygium jambus, S. jambolana, S. javanicum), at a specific distance and a specific depth of 15 ft to the south of the tree.”


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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.