Monday, April 21, 2014

Of Two Ways to the Sapitwa Underworld, mythical Nyangu Tales

This post is an update to an earlier one about the Two Ways to the Sapitwa Underworld not as an endorsement but just documenting oral stories.
Amateur photo of Mulanje mountain taken when I was in a minibus as it drove past
If there is one place in Malawi that has been mysterious for centuries and the cause of many myths and tales, then Sapitwa, the highest peak of Mulanje mountain is the one.
So many tales have been told about Sapitwa ranging from ancestral spirits somehow providing free meals to some allegedly covering those who trek to forbidden areas without following rules, with a white cloth.
White is the colour of the dead in ancient Africa and somehow meaning the chosen person has joined the spiritual or astral realm.
Ancestors of this ancient land believed that “spirits” or what others call ghosts always appeared as white as paper.  They also believed that the female ones always covered their hair with a veil like the first Nyangu because it would supposedly move like a snake which sounds like an African version of the Medusa tale.
It is said such women never cut their hair and it formed into primitive dreadlocks.
Now civilization and Christianity among others came to Africa so this brief article is not an attempt to verify or justify tales and myths of this ancient land called Malawi, but to in a little way share some oral history and it’s tales the way many learned people do online with tales and myths about ancient Egypt including tales about “pagan” Osiris (Ausar), Isis (Aset) and Horus (Heru).
It’s history and gone but globally so much is documented about ancient times but not much about Malawi except for some Mbona stories and research. For some reason, myths and tales about Sapitwa have been excluded making all that is written sometimes appear half-baked.
Isis depicted with outstretched wings like Nyangu
(wall painting, c. 1360 BCE
Now as is the case in the ancient history of other nations, there are also some similarities between some ancient Malawi stories told by some uneducated Sapitwa healers who can’t read and write this alphabet and ancient Egypt’s Osiris, Isis and Horus or Ausar, Aset and Heru.
In ancient Malawi, priests and priestesses (ansembe) responsible for sacrifice offerings (nsembe) somehow believed that the “spirit” or “soul” of a person entered and left the body through a person’s genitals as silly as that might sound to many of us.
So for ancient Malawian priests and priestesses responsible for nsembe (sacrifice offerings) that area represented life and its creation and so forth.
This blog won’t go into specifics but they claim that is why when some get possessed they feel a tingling sensation down there. 
They also believe that demons enter a person through there too hence ancient beliefs in sex being sacred and reserved for “married” couples or for specific ancient rituals.
This blog has not yet researched similar beliefs in other cultures and countries but for now this blog has information that Egyptologists called the ankh the symbol of life and it represented the male triad and the female unit, under a decent form according to information posted on the unofficial online Wikipedia.
The ankh is also described as the “key of life, the key of the Nile or crux ansata (Latin meaning "cross with a handle") and it was the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic character that read "life".
 “It represents the concept of eternal life, which is the general meaning of the symbol.[citation needed] The Egyptian gods are often portrayed carrying it by its loop, or bearing one in each hand, arms crossed over their chest.
“The origin of the symbol remains a mystery to Egyptologists, and no single hypothesis has been widely accepted. One of the earliest suggestions is that of Thomas Inman, first published in 1869,”partly reads
Ankh drawing from the Internet
Another symbol that is similar to many other cultures and countries including ancient Malawi is where Isis is depicted with outstretched wings in a wall painting (1360BCE) with her left knee bent and the right leg straight.
Those who know the ancient Egyptian meaning of this position please feel free to share so this blog can learn about foreign cultures and analyze.  In ancient Malawi a similar symbol was used for the Two Ways to the Sapitwa Underworld and was a direction to the right or left.
Again this blog will not go into details till it’s amateur research is completed. 
But what is interesting to know is some similarities globally and the fact that pyramids with their triangular shapes somehow resemble mountains with a sharp pointed peak according to Sapitwa healers who were shown photos of pyramids.
For unknown reasons, mountains globally have myths and tales attached to them and many are fully documented online.
In this ancient land now called Malawi, healers claim Sapitwa was the source of the 4 winds, mainly North, South, West and East which were said to be involved in rainfall and the drawing of the primitive ancient African cross.
Now this ancient African cross is now drawn with ufa woyera (white maize flour) which in ancient times could have been mapira (sorghum) but since there is no information posted online from our experts I will repeat what those of Sapitwa say.
Now it is this African cross which was like a key to the so-called underworld of Sapitwa which today we could call the astral realm for lack of a better word.
Ancient African cross representing the mythical 4 winds of Sapitwa
In ancient times, the Sapitwa healers believed that 4 positive male spirits charged the right side and that three negative female spirits charged the left side and together that made a total of 7 pulling each other to create light which to them was like the sun or lightning.
Another is a circle with an African cross in the middle to symbolize the mythical elderly man with white hair and a beard who’s said to have been appearing at Dziwe la Nkhalamba (swimming pool for the elderly) centuries ago and somehow providing free clothes which were usually robes gathered from rocks there.
The entrance and foundation in the tales was said to be a white rock whom ancestors of this land believed was at Dziwe la Nkhalamba.  In such myths and tales, the ancient priestesses were the ones who were believed to guide souls to their destiny.
In the photo below I’ve attempted to re-create some drawings I saw with some Sapitwa healers but basically in their primitive and now “pagan” beliefs they thought souls enter from the south and approach two ways.
One was to the right and the other to the left and in between was an upright serpent spirit whom they claimed was the spirit of a king.
In some other ancient African cultures, it was believed when some kings pass on they become the upright cobras, black mambas or the python which in their tales would also be drawn upright as to them these spirits spoke like human beings.
Now in their primitive beliefs, they thought when a soul gets to the two ways, the serpent spirit in the middle would chose which direction they should take.
On the left was a monster with horns and fire and scary eyes while on the right there was a tunnel and bright white light. It is this black tunnel which some believe could be a black hole into the so-called astral realm but no research has been done to verify this tale so it will always be a myth.
My attempt to draw the Two ways of the so-called Sapitwa underworld. What I saw as people might be souls but I’m not sure as I quickly saw the hieroglyphics looking stuff of their beliefs I suspect are hidden on the mountain
This blog will post more info once it’s sourced from Sapitwa this month-end when little money is available to travel to Mulanje. Hopefully there won’t be any more attempts to hack this innocent blogger’s account.

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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.