Thursday, May 8, 2014

Of Ancient Malawi Maths, Sirius Star and “Sacred” Triangle……Sapitwa

Hands drawn to the chest to symbolize two triangles and fire of Sirius
It’s 2012 as the year comes to an end in Malawi’s commercial city of Blantyre in Malawi when just before the stroke of midnight a very bright light flashes above the head of a woman hunting for fireworks in the sky in the township where she lives.
Puzzled with the white bright flickering light above her head which seems to moving fast, the woman realizes it’s not a firework but a very bright star ushering in the New Year in Blantyre on the West side of her home as Mulanje is on the East side, where the sun rises in the morning.
Sirius internet photo which appears like a white ancient cross
Unknown to her, some healers who trek to Sapitwa on Mulanje Mountain earlier gave sacrifices of mapira (sorghum) among other things in an unidentified place on the mountain as they waited for that star they call Nthanda yaku m’mawa which is the star from the east although another definition is morning star but theirs is Sirius.

For the ancient healers of Malawi, this star was the same shape as their “primitive” African cross of the 4 winds of North, South, West and East and they played on this by associating all from the East as being from Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God).
The 4 winds of Sapitwa cross is also drawn with 4 hidden right triangles to represent the four mythical winged spirits out of 7 spirits with the 3 forming a triangle within it and an upright serpent spirit in the middle to represent royalty just like in other beliefs on the continent.
These healers believe in a Creator of this Universe they call Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe etc and they claim 4 male spiritual beings with a positive charge and 3 female spiritual beings with a negative charge to make a total of 7 pull each other to create Light including lightning.
The 4 spirits and their winds are:
Tomasi Bona                  - North   -  the world in the hands/feast
Tagoneka Mbona            – West   – put to sleep Mbona
Chandiona Gonekela       – South – it’s seen me put to sleep
Nthanda mwana wa mwezi [Nandi]   - East - Sirius star like in Nthanda yaku m’mawa African cross and child of the moon

And the three negative female charges are named Dziwe Ntambamwana (witchcraft pool), Ife Zonse (all of us) andSungamwana (keep the child).

The wandering one is Mbewula and also appears like an elderly man like Tomasi Bona.

Ancient Malawi Sapitwa 4 winds cross drawn with flour and having 4 hidden right triangles
Now of these Nyangu is a mythical water spirit whose colour is blue and she’s part of a “sacred” three and appears with her breasts showing to symbolize feeding the gods and the nation…making her a nurturer and mother figure.

The first one fell from grace and healers believe she’s now being replaced with a new one to join the “sacred” three as healers believe “winged spirits” (mizimu) are androgynous and can change genders so the old headless Nyangu spirit with breasts can appear as Mbona and eventually somehow becoming 100% “man” bringing a change to the “sacred” triangle and so forth.

This blog is investigating whether or not this process is symbolically represented by the V formation on birds when flying which also looks like a triangle.
Snow geese in V formation  photo not connected to this blog
Now the Sirius star in ancient Malawi was associated with the first Nyangu and according to a female Sapitwa healer, their star symbolizes the birth of a new year.
One can see how the numbers 3, 7 and 4 were played and how powerful 7 was to ancient Malawi according to oral stories of some Sapitwa healers and how spirits were attributed to land, water, hills and the winds.
They hold their hands to the chest as a sign to remind them of three spiritual beings they treasure and hold dear in their heart represented by the sacred triangle.
It is a secret story of ancient kingdoms memorized for centuries and passed down they claim including the names of their ancient kings and queens and captured mostly in oral stories and drawings we will call the “Sapitwa Book of the Dead.”
Internet Sirius hieroglyph
The hands imitate taking fire from the three stone/rock open fire traditional cooking place to support a pot (mafuwa) to draw the 2 triangles that make a bright star on one’s chest.
One would be an upright triangle to symbolize the highest peak of Mulanje Mountain, Sapitwa and the other would be an upside side triangle, the opposite which is water.
So up above was the mountain and down below was water. And for the healers, the fire symbolizes the brightest star in the universe which is the Sirius.
Elderly Tomasi Bona face drawing online defined
as a “Unit Circle” with a radius of one
This symbol said to be of ancient kings also symbolized the foundation of their kingdom to ensure order in their villages with people living in harmony and peace. 

The star symbolized by fire was held closely to the chest.

Meanwhile, the unofficial Wikipedia online describes the Dogon people of in Mali, West Africa also having “traditional astronomical knowledge about Sirius that would normally be considered impossible without the use of telescope.
In the religion of the Serer people of Senegal, the Gambia and Mauritania, Sirius is called Yoonir  in their language.

The star Sirius is one of the most important and sacred stars in Serer religious cosmology and symbolism. The Serer high priests and priestesses, (Saltigues, the hereditary “rain priests”) chart Yoonir in order to forecast rain fall and enable Serer farmers to start planting seeds. In Serer religious cosmology, it is the symbol of the universe,” adds the unofficial Wikipedia.
Triangle representing highest peak of Mt Mulanje
….Sapitwa and others globally

Despite the myths and tales associated with the suspected Sirius star, science seems to confirm only one fact; that it is appears on New Years’ Day.
According to Earth Sky science news  “Sirius in the constellation Canis Major – the legendary Dog Star – should be called the New Year’s star.

This star – the brightest one in our sky – celebrates the birth of every New Year by reaching its highest point in the sky around the stroke of midnight. That’s the case this year, and every year.”

The same websites states that “Sirius is highest in the sky at midnight every New Year’s.  Astronomers call this a midnight culmination of Sirius.

As the New Year rings in, Sirius is at its highest. By midnight, by the way, we mean the middle of the night – midway between sunset and sunrise….as evidenced in an image credited to Yuuji Kitahara and posted on

Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky and its name is derived from the Ancient Greek Seirios (“glowing” or “scorcher”). The star has the Bayer designation Alpha Canis Majoris.

“Sirius was both the most important star of ancient Egyptian astronomy, and one of the Decans (star groups into which the night sky was divided, with each group appearing for ten days annually).

“The heliacal rising (the first night that Sirius is seen, just before dawn) was noticed every year during July. Early Egyptians used this to mark the start of the New Year (‘The Opening of the Year’). It was celebrated with a festival known as ‘The Coming of Sopdet’.

Isosceles right triangle online resembling healers “primitive” cross with right triangles

“As early as the 1st Dynasty, Sophis was known as ‘the bringer of the new year and the Nile flood’. When Sirius appeared in the sky each year, the Nile generally started to flood and bring fertility to the land.

“The ancient Egyptians connected the two events, and so Sopdet took on the aspects of a goddess of not only the star and of the inundation, but of the fertility that came to the land of Egypt with the flood. The flood and the rising of Sirius also marked the ancient Egyptian New Year, and so she also was thought of as a goddess of the New Year,” partly reads an internet source.

In mathematics, the Pythagorean Theorem – or Pythagaras’ theorem is a relation in Euclidean geometry among the three sides of a right triangle.
It states that the square of the hyptenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. 

The theorem can be written as an equation relating the lengths of the sides ab and c, often called the Pythagorean equation,” partly reads 
Internet photo from

In right angled triangles the square on the side subtending the right angle is equal to the squares on the sides containing the right angle. 

The proposition is especially important in architecture.
Builders have since ancient times used the theorem in constructing buildings by a process known as “squaring a room” and in building the Great Pyramids.
Internet photo of Auset (Isis), Ausar (Osiris) and Heru (Horus)
while ancient Malawi’s was Tomasi Bona, Mbona and the Nyangu “spirit” (mizimu)

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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.