Monday, June 23, 2014

Mpoza (African Custard Apple Tree) of ancient Malawi’s Mbona

Sapitwa’s nkhata (wreath) has been awarded to a fighter but not yet given say healers.
Elsewhere “Victory, A Knight Being Crowned With A Laurel Wreath” by Frank Dicksee photo formhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurel_wreath#mediaviewer/File:Dicksee-Victory,_A_Knight_Being_Crowned_With_A_Laurel-Wreath.jpg
A middle-aged Malawian woman has a dream which appears as a vision in which she sees a fruit locally known as mpoza and the African custard apple tree in English being cut in half to show the inside.
The mpoza is the one Sapitwa healers refer to as being found in the bush and not the ones in town.
African custard apple tree (mpoza)
This tree is also used in making the Sapitwa nkhata (wreath) worn as a crown and used in a cloth tied like a knot to represent an ankh like figure and life.
This blog is planning to trek to the bush one day to take a photo of this ancient mpoza tree. Mapoza fruits also seem to have the symbol of a hexagon fruit just like many globally.  
This blog is also trying to investigate if the said tree has flowers with a shape similar to the ancient lotus of ancient Egypt.
There are some Malawians who claim their ancestors were like migrants and travelled from the north to southern Africa but again this blog has to confirm such information.
However this blog does not have enough information to call it Malawi’s version of the Flower of life but has confirmed the M’manga mudzi anthill tree as one.
“The Flower of Life” is one New Age movement author Drunvalo Melchizedek gives to a geometrical figure composed of multiple evenly-spaced, overlapping circles. This figure forms a flower-like pattern with the symmetrical structure of a hexagon.

“A ‘Flower of Life’ figure consists of seven or more overlapping circles, in which the center of each circle is on the circumference of up to six surrounding circles of the same diameter. However, the surrounding circles need not be clearly or completely drawn; in fact, some ancient symbols that are claimed as examples of the Flower of Life contain only a single circle or hexagon.
“Drunvalo Melchizedek has called these figures symbols of sacred geometry, asserting that they represent ancient spiritual beliefs, and that they depict fundamental aspects of space and time,” partly reads the unofficial Wikipedia onhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower_of_Life

 In ancient Egyptian art, the Lotus was used as a symbol representing the sun, of creation, rebirth and was a symbol of Upper Egypt. As a symbol of the sun it was closely associated with Atum-Ra, the Sun god and later with Nefertum, lotus god of perfume.
“Lotus flowers, also called water lilies, open in the morning and close again at night symbolizing rebirth and regeneration.
“The lotus flower, water lily, was also used to symbolize the deceased upon entering the underworld and the process of rebirth, regeneration and reincarnation.
Temple of Osiris Flower of Life
photo from the Wikipedia
“The Lotus Symbol was a potent ancient Egyptian symbol and icon in the mythology and legends of Egypt and often depicted in ancient Egyptian art. According to ancient Egyptian mythology the Lotus symbolized the sun, of creation, rebirth and regeneration.
“Nefertem was the god of healing, medicine and beauty and strongly associated with the lotus and often depicted in Egyptian art with a large lotus blossom forming his crown,” further reads http://www.landofpyramids.org/lotus-symbol.htm.

Centuries ago, the ancestors of this land today called Malawi used to offer sacrifices (nsembe) at the Wild Custard Apple Tree locally known as Mpoza in the bush.

Among several ancient myths and tales were “Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God)” coming through the mpoza tree as a spirit so believed some of the ancestors.

If this tree pictured on this blog is what is locally known as mpoza and scientifically Annona senegalensis, then a link dated 2004 and on http://www.siu.no/layout/set/print/content/view/full/770 says they “ripen earlier than maize, the staple food in Malawi.”
Lotus flower

“When staple food declines between October and March, people in the rural areas collect forest fruits” further reads that above link. This gives a rough idea of what could have been happening between those months but now to figure out when mapira (sorghum) and traditional maize grew.

The African custard apple tree locally known as Mpoza is a native to Western and Southern Africa ranging from Senegal to South Africa read various internet sources.

The fruits are eaten in large quantities by the local people and its wild trees are mostly found in “semi-arid to subhumid regions occurring  along riverbanks, fallow land, swamp forests and at the coast.”

“Annona senegalensis, commonly known as African custard-apple, wild custard apple, and wild soursop, is a species of flowering plant in the custard apple family, Annonaceae. The specific epithet, senegalensis, translates to mean “of Senegal”, the country where the type specimen was collected.

A traditional food plant in Africa, the fruits of A. senegalensis have the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable land care.

Custard apple tree flower Internet photo
Well known where it grows naturally, it is largely unheard of elsewhere
A. senegalensis is generally pollinated by several species of beetle. The leaves are used to create a general health tonic, in the treatment of pneumonia, and as mattress and pillow stuffing. Specific to Sudan, leaves are boiled in the making of perfume.

Bark can be processed to produce yellow-brown dyeinsecticide, or medicine for treating a wide array of ailments, including wormsparasitic on the intestines or flesh (notabley guinea worms), diarrhea, gastroenteritis, lung infections, toothaches and even snake bites.

Natural gum in the bark is used to close open wounds. Roots are also used medicinally in treating a gamut of conditions, from dizziness and indigestion to chest colds to venereal diseases,” partly reads the Wikipedia onhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annona_senegalensis.

The same mpoza in ancient times was also used as traditional medicine for problems that arose when a pregnant woman had a difficult labour.
Are South America’s soursop fruits also found in Malawi?
They resemble the African Custard Apple but with ‘thorns.’

These things are history now but one Sapitwa healer explained graphically how it was used to ease women in prolonged labour and this blog will investigate to found out if there is a scientific term for this or modern medicine.

Now in so-called matsenga (magic) stories the same mpoza was in ancient times used by nyanga people specializing in magical charms for kusilika house rituals or fields which in English would be magically protecting a house or field from thieves or ‘witchcraft’ attacks?

Such asing’anga in ancient times claimed to drop so-called lichero (winnowing baskets) using the mpoza and other roots and barks.

Some female Sapitwa healers also claim that in ancient times the tail of the hyena (fisi) mixed with mpoza and other roots and barks was used to somehow make a person unseen or unheard like thieves or something bizarre like that.

They resemble the African Custard Apple but with ‘thorns.’

This blog is also investigating whether or not there are rose that were native to Africa including this ancient land called Malawi.
Rosa rubiginosa Internet photo

There are about 100 to 150 species of rose natively mainly to Asia but also Europe, North America and North Africa. One species and one hybrid have become naturalized in southern Africa and an additional 23 species and at least four hybrids are cultivated in the region according to Internet sources.

Meanwhile (Sweet briar, Eglantine rose) native to Europe, Asia and North Africa is said to have been naturalised in “the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and Western Cape” but “declared Catergory 1 invader plant in South Africa,” say the same internet sources.


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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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