Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sapitwa Myths & Tales: Wild African custard apple tree (Mpoza)

Internet photo of African Custard Apple tree (Mpoza)

Centuries ago, the ancestors of this land used to offer sacrifices (nsembe) at the Wild Custard Apple Tree locally known as Mpoza but the wild one of the bush so goes one Sapitwa tale.
Among several ancient myths and tales were “Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God)” coming through the mpoza tree as a spirit so believed some of the ancestors.
If this tree pictured on this blog is what is locally known as mpoza and scientifically Annona senegalensis, then a link dated 2004 and on http://www.siu.no/layout/set/print/content/view/full/770 says they “ripen earlier than maize, the staple food in Malawi.”

“When staple food declines between October and March, people in the rural areas collect forest fruits” further reads that above link. This gives a rough idea of what could have been happening between those months but now to figure out when mapira (sorghum) and traditional maize grew.
The African custard apple tree locally known as Mpoza is a native to Western and Southern Africa ranging from Senegal to South Africa read various internet sources.
The fruits are eaten in large quantities by the local people and its wild trees are mostly found in “semi-arid to subhumid regions occurring  along riverbanks, fallow land, swamp forests and at the coast.”
“Annona senegalensis, commonly known as African custard-apple, wild custard apple, and wild soursop, is a species of flowering plant in the custard apple family,Annonaceae. The specific epithet, senegalensis, translates to mean “of Senegal”, the country where the type specimen was collected.

A traditional food plant in Africa, the fruits of A. senegalensis have the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable land care

Well known where it grows naturally, it is largely unheard of elsewhere. A. senegalensis is generally pollinated by several species of beetle. The leaves are used to create a general health tonic, in the treatment of pneumonia, and as mattress and pillow stuffing. Specific to Sudan, leaves are boiled in the making of perfume.

Bark can be processed to produce yellow-brown dyeinsecticide, or medicine for treating a wide array of ailments, including wormsparasitic on the intestines or flesh (notabley guinea worms), diarrhea, gastroenteritis, lung infections, toothaches and even snake bites.
Natural gum in the bark is used to close open wounds.

Roots are also used medicinally in treating a gamut of conditions, from dizziness and indigestion to chest colds to venereal diseases,” partly reads the unofficial online Wikipedia on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annona_senegalensis.

Internet photo of African Custard Apple Tree

The mpoza also has sacred geometry and measurements might be in line with the hexagon but this needs to be investigated further.
The same mpoza in ancient times was also used as traditional medicine for problems that arose when a pregnant woman had a difficult labour.
These things are history now but one Sapitwa healer explained graphically how it was used to ease women in prolonged labour and this blog will investigate to found out if there is a scientific term for this or modern medicine.
Now in so-called matsenga (magic) stories the same mpoza was in ancient times used by nyanga people specializing in magical charms for kusilika house rituals or fields which in English would be magically protecting a house or field from thieves or ‘witchcraft’ attacks?
Such asing’anga in ancient times claimed to drop so-called lichero (winnowing baskets) using the mpoza and other roots and barks.
Some female Sapitwa healers also claim that in ancient times the tail of the hyena (fisi) mixed with mpoza and other roots and barks was used to somehow make a person unseen or unheard like thieves or something bizarre like that.
The good news is such primitive things are no longer used and like in ancient Egyptian history and many others global they remain on the shelves of ancient history and part of storytelling just like the myths and tales of Osiris and Isis.
Osiri myths  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Opening_of_the_Mouth_-_Tutankhamun_and_Aja.jpg
In Malawi there was Mbona and the hidden woman of Sapitwa so go tales while many other countries online have listed their ancient mythical figures in many websites as part of fairytales or more bluntly myths and tales.
And so this blog is an attempt to compile ancient Malawi myths and tales as part of storytelling not to endorse any of the ancient beliefs in the same way several foreign religious figures and archaeologists have documented Malawi’s ancient history including rituals and traditions well.
This blog is attempting to inspire talented Malawians to also tell their own stories and become online storytellers and maybe in future have storytelling videos or songs online like the one of Zimbabwe’s ancient Prophet Chamunika.
Book cover taken fromhttp://www.librarything.com/work/8341250
A You Tube video on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryN1jdHggCM  explains the history of Chamunika which is like story-telling where they talk about a Fish Eagle leading the way from Persia to Africa etc but there is nothing online, not a single video about Mbona or the Sapitwa version but books mostly written by several religious men.

“Published on Aug 7 2013…Tales of Zimbabwe series brings you a piece of Shona culture with Sekuru Garikai recounting the story of one of zimbabwe’s most respected spirit medium, Chaminuka,” reads a brief summary under the Chaminuka video.
Note:  Once again this blog welcomes corrections of spellings or translations whenever there are any, as the myths and tales are told in Chinyanja by a Sapitwa healer, thank-you.


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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.


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