Friday, April 18, 2014

‘Ancient Malawi’s Elderly one with slanted leopard eyes’

Dziwe la Nkhalamba (pool of the elderly) 2010 photo by Menno Welling for a different story
Malawi is a beautiful land so rich in ancient history and with so many myths and tales about spiritual beings of ancient times who were close to chosen women who were given the gift of ancient African prophecy (ulosi wakale).

This blog attempts to capture one such oral story told by some Sapitwa healers in Mulanje but never documented. They talk of a time many centuries ago before floods.

Once again, this blog is not endorsing this oral story and names used here are not the same ones used in other ancient Malawi stories.

A young woman trying to sleep in the middle of the night suddenly feels faint and collapses into deep sleep and has a strange dream or vision.
She sees a bright light above her and in front of it is an elderly man dressed in very bright white clothing with wrinkles clearly defining his face and slanting eyes which resemble a leopard.
Leopard with “slanted” eyes photo taken from
Internet but not connected to this story
His loud voice speaking with an echo hits her ears as one message is repeated over and over again with the echo.
As if looking through a bright tunnel and towards the sun, the young woman in her dream tries to look at this bright being up above and before her with eyes like a leopard.

And then suddenly as if with a big bang he speaks, his loud voice echoing loudly with a message about the things he hates most.
She looks up and still sees this elderly man in white staring at her as he says something like:

“Ine ndimadana ndi anthu amene amanyoza mizimu chifukwa mizimu yonse ndi yanga” [I don’t get along with people who insult spirits (souls) because all spirits (souls) are mine].
Startled the woman notices the elderly man’s face looking very angry as it disappears into the distance until she’s left in pitch darkness with an image of an angry leopard.
This “vision” was shared with this blog not as an endorsement but as a way of documenting ancient beliefs as told by the very few who still follow or believe in them.
There is a certain village woman in Malawi who claims to have “messages” and “visions” but she’s ignored and labeled evil and a witch (mfiti) because in modern Malawi such things are not accepted and are viewed as Pagan which is viewed as evil.
The author of this blog is not endorsing these views but just sharing oral stories and realities of what those of other belief systems say.
This blog is yet to establish if the Chichewa word “mizimu” means spirits or souls in the said oral story told in a Malawi village about how a woman  was given the power of ancient African prophecy and her explanation of “slanting eyes”.
Leopard eye shapes and leopard skins were treasured and valued among ancient Malawi healers and the leopard also symbolized priests and priestesses and royalty in many ancient cultures including ancient Egypt.
Ironically globally and among all races Jaguar or Leopard’s slightly slanting eyes are considered attractive and some even seek eye surgery to have them.
According to an eyelid surgery website from Malaysia, UK trained ophthalmologist (Oxford Eye Hospital) Professor Dr Chua Chung Nen in the Eye Department of University Malaysia Sarawak who is also a specialist in cataract and eyelid surgery says that in “Caucasian and African, attractive eyes seem to share the same features.”
“The attractive eyes are described as having acute shape like that of Jaguar’s eyes.  They have slightly narrower eye opening and more interestingly….attractive eyes are more slanty than average eyes,” further reads

ttractive Jaguar eyes photo taken from
It’s also not known yet if this is the reason why many ancient Egypt drawings have slanted eyes for their “gods” and “sacred three” who are  basically Osiris, Isis and Horus or Ausar, Aset and Heru.

In another dream, the same young woman feels a being again in white holding her tightly to his chest while braiding her hair as if to signal dreadlocks and hair that must never be cut and used in various rituals so go the tales.
Ancient Egyptian eyes seem to have a slant on most drawings
– Photo from the Internet
Dreadlocks or uncombed hair was also believed to resemble serpent spirits and the hair movements of the mythical winged female spirits that have never been human.
Now the way the Ancient Malawi one in the tale braided the woman’s hair was symbolic by taking three pieces of hair and binding them together to mean the three powers working as one including the woman in ancient Malawian myths.
Some healers also claim all female spirits at the astral realms of mountains and the like don’t show their hair but cover it with a veil because it is their source of power in some ancient tales.
Braiding with extensions but using the three pieces of hair
It is said when the elderly spirit in ancient times decided to be born from such women, that woman would become a “goddess” and be given special powers while the being inside her changed her body structure.
After eight months the spiritual being in the body would disappear into thin air and be born from the ocean of Mother Earth goes another tale.
Now the first such mythical being in this specific oral story told as it was uses the name Nyangu, a beautiful full-bodied and dark woman with her colour being the blue of the sky according to one male healer.
Because of her figure and a baby behind her back some compared her to a cow that feeds her children and she was also a queen of the mystical side of mankind and her symbol was breasts.
But she got excited with her newly-discovered powers and fell from grace from a mythical mountain so goes the ancient African tale never told before.
When asked the meaning of the word “nyangu”, he summarized it as meaning manthongo which in English is the crust around the eyes or thin mucus that dries up around the eye when one wakes up or has an eye infection.
Maybe its scientific name is Rheum but those in the know how can share.
Some on Facebook describe the stuff as eye boogers or eye gunk while other funny names online include  “sleepy dust, sleepy boogers, eye discharge, eye goop, eye crud, eye jelly, eye crust, eye bogeys, eye-sand, cockapia, optical crustaceans, blinker smudge, sleepy dirt, and bug dust”.
The man said the word nyangu in that meaning applies to a person who is “wopepera” etc whose English equivalent could be lacking intelligence, dullness or doing something silly?
But those reading this blog who know the definition and correct Chichewa spellings feel free to share.
Beads, a symbol of feminine beauty with meaning
But that definition does not apply to others who use the same name but only the woman in this specific oral story which remains a tale not endorsed by this blog but just giving a platform for some Sapitwa healers to tell their oral stories.
It’s from this ancient goddess story that some of the ancient winged spirits were given names like Sungamwana (keep the child) unlike the other evil mythical one of Dziwe Ntambawana (the pool of witchcraft) among others.
Now in ancient times a vision of an elderly man with white hair was considered to be good luck and the sighting of such a being at the ancient Mwala la Nkhalamba in today’s Dziwe la Nkhalamba area was also viewed as a blessing from the other world.

In ancient times when certain specific rocks turned at an area at Dziwe la Nkhalamba it would symbolize a soul leaving this world because a mythical two way gateway to the astral realm of Sapitwa was believed to be there.
For most of us such stories sound funny and like fairy tales but for some healers of Malawi these are ancient oral stories they treasure near their hearts of a land beyond the imagination and behind the astral realms of mountains and hills including the highest peak of Mount Mulanje locally known as Sapitwa, where no man goes… don’t go there say healers in their various myths and tales!
Watch this space for more oral stories, myths and tales never documented before.
Drawing of Makewana not related to this article when ancient Malawi women were powerful –
 © 2013 Max Dashu – image created for Woman Shaman: the Ancients

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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.