Saturday, April 19, 2014

‘Ancient Malawi respected Elders while modern one the Youth’ – Sapitwa


You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.” – Leviticus 19:32 (ESV)


A young child after watching Nigerian “horror movies” for those aged 18 and above about witchcraft and Satanism among other things finally goes to sleep around 10 pm and has nightmares.
In her dreams she sees a nearby elderly woman approaching her yard and all sorts of things happening nearby and tells her mother the vision in the morning.
The mother than rushes to tell other women and they decide to march to the elderly woman’s house to burn it down and kill her after accusing her of practicing witchcraft despite resistance from some church members.
The fact that the elderly woman is an active member of a well-known church is ignored as the women are determined to harm what they believe is a witch (mfiti).
Elsewhere in a village a very old woman is accused of using charms and eating some specific animals to keep her alive.  Villagers claim she went through kukhwima magical rituals and is rotting with worms while alive and has to be carried outside to sit in the sun.
In a different village an elderly person sleeps in a room stinking of urine and unable to walk because of ill health and not many care because aging seems to have become a crime in the area.
The elderly are also suspect whenever there are droughts and accused of somehow holding or stopping rains by using so-called charms and nsupas which are the narrow necked African wine kettle gourds.
Rewinding back to the days before democracy in Malawi, it was not unusual to see the youth rushing to assist the elderly carrying heavy goods and suitcases or to give them a seat and stand while travelling by bus.
In the early days of minibuses when receipts were issued and when children paid half fares, some also charged half fares for the elderly.
All that is gone and instead some of the elderly who are past their working years are mocked and expected to pay full fares in minibuses even when they don’t have enough money and when a young person rushes to help them carry heavy goods they are charged for ganyu (piece work ) services.
Some of the greatest brains of Malawi have lived quiet unrecognized lives after retirement and ignored in their old age because that is the way this new Malawi is.
The term veteran or experience seems to be quickly losing any valuable meaning and instead new blood seems to be in fashion and creating a vicious cycle of trial and error while learning over and over again in various sectors of society.
It’s no longer in fashion to get wisdom and knowledge from the elders because some of their beliefs are viewed as old-fashioned or village like.
Even the elderly who go senile are eyed with suspicion and it’s not unusual to see many elderly women begging for money in some towns while others are busy raising their orphaned grandchildren.
The elderly who show signs of being senile are also taken advantage of and exploited or ill-treated just because of their old age say Sapitwa healers.
It’s such things that upsets Sapitwa healers as they feel nations that respect the elderly and elders prosper and are blessed and they insist Malawi has changed.
They say it’s not a crime to age and live a long life but a blessing from Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) and describe many of the long gone elders as walking libraries of oral stories.
They also claim unlike in the past when specific healers and not all had the duty of identifying suspected afiti (witches and wizards) in villagers, today anyone in Malawi can do it despite not having the powers to.
They claim in ancient times it took a “mfiti” [witch] to catch a “mfiti” in that one was protected by charms while the other deliberately harmed people.
Their beliefs are similar to those in the West of “white magic” viewed as “good” versus “black magic” viewed as “evil” but not in relation to races.
This blog again is not endorsing any beliefs, oral stories or modern day oracles since the author remains a Christian.
Also in traditional occult terminology, black magic is malevolent magic that seeks to hurt, while white magic is used for healing and other good purposes.
White Ceremonial Magic is, by the terms of its definition, an attempt to communicate with Good Spirits for a good, or at least an innocent, purpose. Black Magic is the attempt to communicate with Evil Spirits for an evil, or for any, purpose reads http://www.sacred-texts.com/grim/bcm/bcm06.htm

 
John Dee and Edward Keeley invoking a spirit taken http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Dee_and_Edward_Keeley.jpg
In other words, mortal beings were not supposed to visit the astral realm with various entities anyhow so it took one who visited that realm which is witchcraft to see the lower and evil entities so goes the oracle of Sapitwa.
Sapitwa healers warn there are many spirits in various astral realms so one has to make sure they're dealing with the right one before invoking them.
Sapitwa healers claim for centuries afiti (witches) who harmed people were punished by specific asing’anga for that purpose and not all asing’anga using undisclosed means.
To date this blog only knows about the banned mwabvi poison concoctions where those without ufiti were said to live etc and this posting is not to debate whether or not witchcraft exists because Sapitwa healers insist it has been a problem which has existed for centuries.
This blog is still researching to understand this message from Sapitwa and the Chichewa word for the ancient “witch-hunters”.
However the unofficial online Wikipedia states that Black magic has traditionally referred to the use of supernatural powers or magicfor evil and selfish purposes.

“With respect to the left-hand path and right-hand path dichotomy, black magic is the malicious counterpart of benevolent white magic. In modern times, some find that the definition of “black magic” has been convoluted by people who define magic or ritualistic practices that they disapprove of as “black magic”.

“Like its counterpart white magic, the origins of black magic can be traced to the primitive, ritualistic worship of spirits as outlined in Robert M. Place‘s 2009 book, Magic and Alchemy, ” further reads the unofficial Wikipedia.

So since in many ancient cultures including in Malawi it took a mfiti to catch a mfiti so it took someone who practiced white magic witchcraft (ufiti) to catch those who practiced black magic witchcraft (ufiti) in the spiritual realm.
The Sapitwa oracle also says in today’s world many without being in the astral realm see spirits and blame the elderly for most things that go wrong in their villages hence removing the previously broad ancient respect for the aged.
What is surprising is that some online publications do not list most African cultures as celebrating old age despite them being known to do that for centuries.
Is the Sapitwa oracle right or wrong about modern day Malawi?
According to the Huffington Post different cultures have different attitudes and practices around aging and death, and these cultural perspectives can have a huge effect on our experience of getting older.
“While many cultures celebrate the aging process and venerate their elders, in Western cultures — where youth is fetishized and the elderly are commonly removed from the community and relegated to hospitals and nursing homes — aging can become a shameful experience.

Physical signs of human aging tend to be regarded with distaste, and aging is often depicted in a negative light in popular culture, if it is even depicted at all. Psychologist Erik Erickson argued that the Western fear of aging keeps us from living full lives.

“Lacking a culturally viable ideal of old age, our civilization does not really harbor a concept of the whole of life,” he wrote.

However, an article about how the elderly are treated around the world explains how in countries like Korea and China, you can expect to be taken care of by your family while in America and England, not so much.

“A new “Elderly Rights Law” passed in China wags a finger at adult children, warning them to “never neglect or snub elderly people” and mandating that they visit their elderly parents often, regardless of how far away they live.

The law includes enforcement mechanisms, too: Offspring who fail to make such trips to mom and dad face potential punishment ranging from fines to jail time.”

Korea: Celebrating old age

Not only do Koreans respect the elderly, but they also celebrate them. For Koreans, the 60th and 70th birthdays are prominent life events, which are commemorated with large-scale family parties and feasts.

As in Chinese culture, the universal expectation in Korea is that roles reverse once parents age, and that it is an adult child’s duty — and an honorable one at that — to care for his or her parents.
Korean photo from the Internet

Japan: An elderly predicament
Like the Chinese and the Koreans, the Japanese prize filial piety and expect children to dutifully tend to their parents. But Japan also faces the unique problem of tending to an increasingly elderly population.
The U.S. and U.K.: Protestantism at play
Western cultures tend to be youth-centric, emphasizing attributes like individualism and independence. This relates back to the Protestant work ethic, which ties an individual’s value to his or her ability to work — something that diminishes in old age.
Anthropologist Jared Diamond, who has studied the treatment of the elderly across cultures, has said the geriatric in countries like the U.K. and U.S. live “lonely lives separated from their children and lifelong friends.”
As their health deteriorates, the elderly in these cultures often move to retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes.
France: Parents also protected by law

France did, however, pass a similar decree in 2004 (Article 207 of the Civil Code) requiring its citizens to keep in touch with their geriatric parents.
It was only enacted following two disturbing events, though: One was the publication of statistics revealing France had the highest rate of pensioner suicides in Europe, and the other was the aftermath of a heat wave that killed 15,000 people — most of them elderly, and many of whom had been dead for weeks before they were found.
The Mediterranean and Latin culture: One big, happy family

Mediterranean and Latin cultures place similar priority on the family. In both cultures, it’s commonplace for multiple generations to live under one roof, (à la My Big Fat Greek Wedding) sharing a home and all the duties that come with maintaining one.

In the contemporary iteration of this living arrangement, the oldest generation often is relied on to assist with caring for the youngest, while the breadwinners labor outside the home. As such, the aged remain thoroughly integrated well into their last days, further reads the website.

And the Huffington Post lists 7 cultures that celebrate and respect their elders as being the Greek, Native Americans, Chinese and Indians among others.

“Old man” isn’t a bad word in Greek.

The Western cultural stigma around aging and death doesn’t exist in Greece. In Greek and Greek-American culture, old age is honored and celebrated, and respect for elders is central to the family.

Native American elders pass down their knowledge.

Though attitudes towards death in contemporary American culture are largely characterized by fear, Native American cultures traditionally accept death as a fact of life.

There are over 500 Native American nations, and each has its own traditions and attitudes toward aging and elderly care. But in many tribal communities, elders are respected for their wisdom and life experiences.

Within Native American families, it’s common for the elders to be expected to pass down their learnings to younger members of the family, according to the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Native American woman photo from  Internet
In Korea, elders are highly respected.

Much of the Korean regard for aging is rooted in the Confucian principle of filial piety, a fundamental value dictating that one must respect one’s parents (although Confucius was Chinese, Confucianism has a long history in Korea).

Younger members of the family have a duty to care for the aging members of the family. And even outside the family unit, Koreans are socialized to respect and show deference to older individuals as well as authority figures. It’s also customary in Korean to have a big celebration to mark an individual’s 60th and 70th birthdays.

The hwan-gap, or 60th birthday, is a joyous time when children celebrate their parents’ passage into old age.

The age is thought to be reason for celebration in part because many of their ancestors would not have survived past the age of 60 without the advances of modern medicine.

A similar large family celebration is held for the 70th birthday, known as kohCui (“old and rare”).

Chinese children care for their parents in old age.

As in Korea, Chinese families traditionally view filial piety and respect for one’s elders as the highest virtue, deriving from the Confucian tradition.

Although westernization has lessened the power of these values in some cities and communities, adult children are still generally expected to care for their parents in their old age.
“Placing your parents in retirement homes will see you labeled as uncaring or a bad son,” Beijing resident Zhou Rui told China.org.

“To abandon one’s family is considered deeply dishonorable.” However, this tradition is beginning to break down in China, due to the country’s one-child policy, rising life expectancy and an aging population. Nursing homes are beginning to become a more socially acceptable option for elderly care.

In India, elders are the head of the family

Many Indians live in joint family units, with the elders acting as the head of the household. The elders are supported by the younger members of the family and they in turn play a key role in raising their grandchildren.

“Advice is always sought from them on a range of issues, from investment of family money to nitty-gritties of traditional wedding rituals and intra-family conflicts. And this is not just passive advice; their word is final in settling disputes,” Achyut Bihani wrote in Slate.

“The elderly are often the most religious and charitable members of the family.” Disrespecting the elders of the family or sending them to an old-age home has a social stigma in India, Bihani adds.

Traditional Indian family unit photo taken from the Internet
In the African-American community, death is seen as an opportunity to celebrate life.

In African-American culture, death is seen as part of the “natural rhythm of life,” which lessens the cultural fear around aging. For this reason, Karen H. Meyers writes in The Truth About Death and Dying,

“African-American funerals tend to be life-affirming and to have a celebratory air intermingled with the sorrow.”

In ancient Rome, elders were a precious resource.

Though the average life expectancy in ancient Rome was around 25, some individuals did live into their 70s, and they were generally respected for their wisdom.

“The Romans made use of their elderly and had faith in their wisdom and experience,” writes Dr. Karen Cokayne of the University of Reading, quoting Cicero as saying, “For there is assuredly nothing dearer to a man than wisdom, and though age takes away all else, it undoubtedly brings us that.”

“Wisdom had to be worked at — by hard work, study and especially by virtuous living,” writes Cokayne. “The old were expected to act with moderation and dignity, at all times.

The old had to be an example to the young, as it was thought the young learned by example. This was ingrained in Roman society” further reads http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/25/what-other-cultures-can-teach_n_4834228.html

African-American women friends also photo from http://theweek.com/article/index/246810/how-the-elderly-are-treated-around-the-world





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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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