Friday, April 4, 2014

Malawi Myths & Tales: Elderly Tomasi Bona spirit born of woman to become like mortal man?

Dziwe la Nkhalamba 2010 photo by Menno Welling for a different story
A young sad Malawian woman who finds herself alone in the month of January 2003 after getting out off a steady relationship with a difficult man suddenly finds herself pregnant while he’s away and nowhere near her home.
It’s the month of August in 2003 and she just can’t figure out how she could be pregnant so she treats it as a false alarm since she has been single and alone for some seven months.
Puzzled when she skips yet another monthly period, she rushes to some elder women to explain her plight and fears….she starts thinking the unimaginable that maybe some witchcraft (ufiti) is involved.
One of the elder women, a traditional healer, with an alarmed look notices the young woman seems to be in pain as she keeps holding the left side of her tummy.
Fearing she might be having an ectopic pregnancy, the young woman wants to rush to the hospital and get medical attention since the pain becomes unbearable.
The elderly woman sweet talks her into not going to the much needed hospital but to instead take some greenish looking herbs to ease the pain.  The confused woman then asks the elderly woman bluntly why she wants her to keep a baby she’s not ready to have.
The answer stuns her….
The elderly woman tells the pregnant woman she has been impregnated by an elderly male mizimu (spirit) found at Dziwe la Nkhalamba in Mulanje Mountain during ancient times and the feared Indian Ocean near Mozambique.
She is also told the spirit becomes born of woman so that it can appear and be seen like “mortal man.”
Mother Earth and the Indian Ocean of her womb –
Photo borrowed from
This causes more confusion when she is told that the spirit in her womb is that of an elderly Tomasi Bona of Dziwe la Nkhalamba of the North wind for rain and that he will be born from her after eight months but she would never hold him in her hands as a new born baby.
She is also told that the pain she feels is the elderly spirit rearranging the insides of her body to somehow make her into a new being with powers of the ancient goddess of Malawi whose name was Nyangu.
Scared the woman accepts her plight and spends most of her pregnancy bedridden and sick with pain in her bed taking herbs.  As predicted, during the eighth all the pain and discomfort and movements of a baby within her disappear.
Trying to recall how, the young woman remembers a dream where she saw an elderly woman’s hand knocking at the door of her home by saying “odi” and she answered.
She also remembers how many suspicious women in her area claim it’s wrong for a pregnant person to answer those who knocks at a door during dreams at night because they can make that baby disappear.
 Woman in her dreams knocking on the door at night and saying ‘odi’
Accepting her destiny, the woman then moves on with her life only to come face to face with the elderly man when she least expects it. While relaxing in her home after a hard day’s work, the woman is alerted by a person with a surprised look saying she has a “visitor’.
Curious who could be visiting her at such an odd hour, she’s shocked to find an elderly deformed looking barefoot man with slanted eyes on the sides of his head like a snake, dove or some kind of creature.
He literally turns his head to look at her and she can’t help but notice the barefoot man before her has bright white hair, wrinkles written on his face and he’s dressed in a blue faded jacket with dust on the shoulders, rolled up brown trousers and carrying a black plastic bag like those some asing’anga (traditional healers) carry.
Making matters worse the man addresses her by name, frightening her even more and this makes her angry out of fear for her life.  She shouts at the man to identify himself or immediately leave her premises.
Tiye with Amenhotep III who would strike the doorpost with mace: From Lepsius Abt III, Band 5, Bl. 84 Photo from
After an exchange of words, the man still staring deep into her eyes and with a smile listens to her commands and starts to leave while walking backwards but still looking at her.
Relieved the woman keeps on shouting until the man walks out the makeshift straw gate of her home saying he’s heading back to “Kuba’ whom some Malawian traditional healers claim is Mt Namuli in Mozambique.
Mount Namuli in Mozambique known in Malawi as “Kuba”.
Photo not connected to this article taken from
Before she can watch him walk away, the man vanishes before her eyes leaving her stunned and speechless.
And so began the story of the woman who was eventually told she had carried an elderly male spirit in her womb and whom she had not given birth to for instead he had vanished after eight months.
Since then the woman lives in seclusion in a hidden place in a part of Malawi, awaiting for the return of the “male spirit” ten years after he left her womb. She is considered to be a goddess in the making.
Mysterious pregnancies or births were also told in ancient Malawi with the birth of rainmaker Mbona whose mother Nyangu was said to have found herself pregnant with him.
Author Father J. Matthew Schoffeleers captures this in his book ‘River of Blood’:The Genesis of a Martyr Cult in Southern Malawi Mbona’s “virgin mother” Nyangu. It’s posted in the link:

In Egyptian mythology, in the myth of Osiris, Isis and Horus, the belief in the conception of Horus by Isis is traced to the beginning of Egyptian history. Horus’ conception and birth were understood in terms of the Egyptian doctrine of parthenogenesis, which was connected with the goddess Neith of Sais. (page 220)
Ancient Egyptian myths about Osiris, Isis and Horus taken from

“ In Upper Egypt, Net was worshipped at Seni and represented with the head of a lioness painted green, with the titles: “Father of fathers and Mother of mothers,” and “net-Menhit, the great lady, lady of the south, the great cow who gave birth to the sun, who made the germ of gods and men, the mother of Ra, who raised up Tem in primeval time, who existed when nothing else had being, and who created that which exists after she had come into being.”(page 150).

“Egyptian texts mention numerous forms of Horus. In one he is “Heru-sa Ast, sa-Asar, or Horus, son of Isis, son of Osiris.” Isis is described in the Hymn to Osiris, as finding and restoring the body of her dead husband, and using magical words given her by Thoth to restore him to life.

Then, by uniting with Osiris she conceives Horus. Horus represented the rising sun and in this respect was comparable to the Greek Apollo,” partly reads the unofficial online Wikipedia.

There were at least fifteen other Horuses in the Egyptian pantheon, so in the story of Isis and Osiris Horus is “sometimes known as Harsiesis, to distinguish him from the others. He is depicted as a falcon, or with a falcon’s head.

He eventually avenged Osiris’ death and reclaimed the throne, ruling peacefully…Herakhty, or ‘Horus of the Horizon’, was a sun god who rose each morning on the eastern horizon. He was often identified with the sun god, Ra, and was eventually absorbed by him, forming Ra-Herakhty.

“Many texts mention different attributes of Isis. These were combined into a single narrative by Plutarch in the 1st century AD. In her aspect of protector of Egypt and its people, Isis is depicted with huge outspread wings.

“She taught women to grind corn, to spin and to weave, and she taught the people how to cure illnesses. She instituted the rite of marriage. When her consort, Osiris, left Egypt to travel the world, Isis ruled the country in his absence. “

“The hieroglyph for her name is the image of a throne, and her lap came to be seen as the throne of Egypt. Because of her fame Isis eventually absorbed the qualities of almost all the other goddesses; “she was a great mother goddess, a bird goddess, a goddess of the underworld who brought life to the dead, and a goddess of the primeval waters…

Greco-Roman and Hellenistic literature is also rich in the tradition of birth among the gods. The legend of Perseus, whose mother conceived him by Jupiter in the form of a golden shower seems to be the basic legend (cf. Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book IV).

“The Greek Anthology has the following: ZEUS, turned to gold, piercing the brazen chamber of Danae, cut the knot of intact virginity. Stories of the creation of gods and goddesses by other gods and goddesses include the traditions of generation of Apollo by Zeus and Leto, of Theseus by Zeus and Maia, of Dionysus by Zeus and Semele, of Dionysus Zagreus by Zeus andPersephone, and of Persephone by Zeus and Demeter.

“The birth of gods by generation of a god with a mortal woman include the birth of Hercules by the union of Zeus and Alcmena and that of Pan by Hermes with a shepherdess.

And in Aztec mythology, the myth of Huitzilopochtli is uniquely Aztec. Huitzilopochtli is therefore considered to be the cult god or the patron god of the Aztec. As a solar deity, Huitzilopochtli is closely related to and overlaps with Tonatiuh. Huitzilopochtli’s mother was Coatlicue, or She of the Serpent Skirt.

“Coatlicue, known for her devout nature and virtuous qualities, was at Mt. Coatepec one day, sweeping and tending to her penance, when she discovered a bundle of feathers on the ground. She decided to save them and placed them in her bosom. Without her realizing, the feathers impregnated her.

“There are several stories about the birth of Quetzalcoatl. In the first story, Quetzalcoatl was born by a virgin named Chimalman, to whom the god Onteol appeared in a dream….” further reads the Wikipedia.
© 2013 Max Dashu – image created for Malawian Woman Shaman:
the Ancients not connected to this blog and article.

Photo taken from

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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.