Sunday, March 16, 2014

Of Ancient Malawi’s 10 horns (Nyanga) and beasts (Zirombo)

In ancient Malawi 10 fingers represented 10 horns of nyanga rituals
Thousands of years ago in this ancient land today known as Malawi some no-nonsense kings ruled with an iron fist according to some Sapitwa healers.
In the olden days some of these kings were believed to protect themselves with various charms to fight wars and prevent others from harming them through kukhwima rituals.
Besides that some of the ancient kings were also believed to have unique cups (chikho) and containers locally known as nsupa and made from the African Wine Kettle gourd. It required a secret process of 10 to get it’s power.
Internet African wine kettle gourd photo
On its own the gourd is said to not have powers until the owner somehow magically washes it with magical blood to get it’s so-called feminine energy hence it having the hour-glass shape of a woman with beads on its “waist” so go some ancient myths and tales.
These men are believed to have always tapped into feminine energy in their earlier days as they believed in opposites attracting in their spirituality to create light.
This was the gist of their saying that Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) has 7 spirits and of these 4 are male representing the positive force and 3 female representing the negative force to create Light or what is also known today as electricity.
Now Kuponda was one of the most feared chiefs and myths and tales talk of him lifting his little finger like a goat horn to deal with his enemies or those who tried to harm him. The movement of the fingers would imitate the horns of his nyanga kit which were usually 10.
Now the little finger would represent the goat horn with less hair on it while the finger next to it would represent the ram horn which are curved and the shape of that one when trying to lift it up. They call it nkhosa which is also translated into English as sheep but with horns (nyanga).


Goat horns from the Internet
The middle finger which is usually swearing in western cultures in ancient Malawi represented the hidden hyena (fisi) horn and symbolize bad luck while the index and pointing finger represented the other goat horn and symbolized the male organ and throwing a curse to dry up things among others.
Sapitwa healers also say the thumb represented the horns of a cow (ng’ombe) which is most likely a bull or African Buffalo Bull and meant all is well. It’s bent shape in the eyes of the ancestors represented the bent horns of a bull and they apparently played with these signs and associated them with beasts (chirombo).
Some of these mythical beasts are said to guard Sapitwa and other mountains in the Sub-Saharan region including the one local healers nicknamed “Kuba.”
African Buffalo Bull from http://www.wildlife-pictures-online.com/buffalo_ep-1852.html
Sapitwa which basically means “don’t go there” in the vernacular and also known as the mountain where “no man goes” is a place which myths claim is home to spirits.
It's the highest peak of Mulanje Mountain some 100 kilometres south-east of Blantyre.
Mulanje Massif is said to measure approximately 22×26 kilometres with a maximum elevation of 3,002 m at its highest point, Sapitwa Peak.
Sapitwa is the original name of the whole Mulanje Mountain says a female Sapitwa healer when asked the name the ancestors of the land gave the mountain.

Big horn sheep in New Mexico photo from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:New_Mexico_Bighorn_Sheep.JPG
She says with time and many centuries later this has changed and the only place for the “where no man goes” legend is the Peak.
Of these is Sapitwa a chief also referred to as Napolo whom healers describe as the ancient owner of the mountain.
M’manga mudzi…tree grows out of an anthill
Another one is Kuponda whom myths connect to this M’manga Mudzi (build the village) anthill tree in Mulanje whose English name remains unknown.
Other ancient chiefs Sapitwa healers have revealed include Kasipe, Namakuno, Usiyeapite, Kalinje, Kalinde, Chambe and Mwala wa Nkhalamba.
Another chief is Gumulanje whose name ironically sounds like Mulanje but this blog hopes some experts can confirm because so far there is no information online about the names of chiefs who existed on this land centuries ago.
Internet photo of little finger or pinky finger meaning trouble
They talk of a chief called Gumulanje whom they say had specific hand symbols which he used to try or condemn people. In Myths and Tales he is the one who “owned” that mountain in oral stories just like myths and tales connected to other hills and mountains.
Now of the ancient chiefs, Gumulanje also known as the destroyer was also a feared chief believed to have used magical powers during conflict where people would somehow disappear when fighting.
When Gumulanje passed on, the people of the area in their belief system viewed him as a god who had passed on to the mythical astral realm of Sapitwa because for them kings with their royal blood were believed to be near Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) so they went through them to sent requests in their beliefs add the healers.
Those who have more information about ancient Malawi please feel free to expand and enrich this blog because in the end it's looks like globally many ancient cultures had a few similar beliefs proving we still are all human beings made in the image of God so no need for hatred, thanks.
*Fellow Malawians also feel free to correct any misspellings and add information as part of an effort to document online ancient oral history, this blog will appreciate, cheers.




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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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