Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Of Wild potatoes, mounds planted by mythical Tomasi Bona for Chinsinsi Sungamwana

Maintaining mound photo not connected to this blog taken from http://www.wikihow.com/Earth-Up-Potatoes
The Livingstone potato locally known by Sapitwa priestesses (responsible for nsembe) as mbatata or mipama is one of the edible indigenous tuber crops once commonly grown in both the dryland and wetland areas of the eastern districts of Zimbabwe to Nigeria, south Transvaal and Natal.
It’s also known online as coleus potato, wilde aartappel, shezha, tsenga, tensa, tsenza, mutada, matheta, makwele, tapole emahlo, tapole-ea-mahlo, itapile, ibonda, ugilo, potato – coleus, ulucanqu, uluhlaza, isiqwili, ushizane, umhlati, ulujilo, umbondive, imbondwe, ujwangu, ushizan, UJilo, UJikwe, UHlazaluti and IZambhane.
Tsenza as it’s known in Zimbabwe has been cultivated there since prehistoric times and is occasionally still seen in rural parts of southern Africa. It is also grown in Malaysia, Indonesia and India according tohttp://www.rogerblench.info/Ethnoscience/Plants/Crops/Tubers/Little-known%20African%20tubers.pdf
Although Tsenza has been cultivated for millennia, it is considered one of the “lost” crops of Africa.  Scientists were not aware it was being cultivated until the mid-1960s.
It is normally cultivated in small mounds like yam-hills. The tubers are sliced into pieces for planting, rather than relying on chance fragments remaining in the ground further reads the same source.
Plectranthus esculentus - National Academy of Sciences, USA photo taken from http://dianabuja.wordpress.com/2010/07/31/local-potato-more-information-but-theres-not-much/
Plectranthus esculentus – National Academy of Sciences, USA photo taken fromhttp://dianabuja.wordpress.com/2010/07/31/local-potato-more-information-but-theres-not-much/
According to the online book ‘Buried treasures : tasty tubers of the world : how to grown and enjoy root vegetables, tubers, rhizomes, and corms‘, the Livingstone potato is easy to grow in frost-free areas and farmers are advised to “plant seed tubers on mounds or hills (like regular potato), ridges or rows in well-drained soil.
“Prepare the soil to a depth of 1 foot before planting and work in well-rotted manure or compost. Plant the tubers 2 inches to 4 inches deep and about 12 inches apart.
“Mound up the soil around shoots’ bases to encourage the production of tuers, partly reads the same website.
Now this blog has been told that the ancient Mbatata or Mipama is the Secret of ancient Malawi’s winged spirit of the South known as Chinsinsi Sungamwana (Secret, keep the child).
These winged spirits (mizimu) are called “goddesses” by scholars and researchers and their powers in ancient Myths and Tales were created through Agriculture and Farming (Ulimi).
In such tales it grew like a plant taking root in dry ground.
This is the Secret of ancient Malawi’s Mountain nicknamed “Sapitwa” but today called Mulanje Mountain.
And the 7 mythical spirits of ancient Malawi which researchers and scholars call ‘gods’ and ‘goddesses’ were:
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 (magic pool), Ife Zonse (all of us) andChinsinsi Sungamwana(keep the child).
The suspected comet one is Napolo also known as Mbewula to run away from also appears like an elderly man like Tomasi Bona.
Now Chinsinsi Sungamwana, one of the ancient Nyangus 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.
In ancient times when the North met the South as in Tomasi Bona and Chinsinsi Sungamwana it would mean floods like in the flooding of a river or lake which was also related to agriculture as in farming.
M'manga Mudzi, Mpolowoni anthill tree/mound in Malawi
M’manga Mudzi, Mpolowoni anthill tree/mound in Malawi
It is in that mythical side of the feared mountain where ancient Malawi’s spirit of the North known as Tomasi Bona (Atom) of the M’manga Mudzi termite mound planted the Mbatata, which he watered and tendered.
The way it grew or “sprouted” for lack of a better word, determined the amount of power he would give the love of his life ChInSInSi to enable her become not only like a queen but a priestess responsible for ancient Africa’s spiritual issues and healing.
This was reflected in the way the roots of the M’manga Mudzi mound would appear on top and not in the ground but the trees above never fell because the roots formed a firm foundation (madziko).
Potato grown in mounds or hills
Mythical Tomasi Bona (Atom, feast) spirit of the North wind planted a Wild Potato for the love of his life Chinsinsi Sungamwana (Secret, keep the child) spirit of the South from the day she was “born”. Internet photo not connected to this blog
According to the oral tales, this is how ancient Malawi’s Chinsinsi spirit was able to build her own kingdoms and area to have power.
Now the reason the wild potato was planted in a mythical part of the mountain was to ensure that no one uprooted it and removed her powers according to the same oral tales.
This is also the potato as in “mbatata” which healers used when going into the bush for a long time while fasting.  They claimed it somehow made them not feel hungry and they ate it raw.
Now mbatata is sweet potato in Chichewa which is not indigenous to Malawi and said to have brought to the country from America in the 1800s.
However, Sapitwa healers for centuries have called the Livingstone Potato (Plectranthus esculentus) tuber “mbatata” as “batata”.
“Batata is also the word for potato in Portuguese. The same has been adapted in many Indian Languages like Gujarati, Marathi, Konkani, some Arabic variants and others.
“The English word “potato” itself is derived from the Taíno batata, borrowed via Spanish patata.
And Batatas is also defined online as an Arawak name for what is now  called sweet potatoes.  They were apparently used during pre-Columbian times in Central and lowland South America, as well as in the West Indies.
It is thought that Ipomoea batatas originated from an unremarkable trailing climber (vine) on the mainland, probably in Central America.
The cultivated sweet potato is a hexaploid (= 90 chromosomes) and must be propagated from stem cuttings or the root tubers, because the plants seldom produce fruits or seeds further reads http://www.botgard.ucla.edu/html/botanytextbooks/economicbotany/Ipomoea/
Batata is also the word for sweet potato (Latin: Ipomoea batatas) in many languages (e.g. Spanish, Hebrew and others), apparently from the Taíno batata,” also claims http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batata
The Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas) is known as batata in many countries globally Photo taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_potato
The Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas) is known as batata in many countries globally
Photo taken fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_potato
In Egypt, sweet potato tubers are also known as “batata” (بطاطا) and are a common street food in winter, where street vendors with carts fitted with ovens sell them to people passing time by the Nile or the sea. The two varieties used are the orange fleshed one as well as the white/cream fleshed one. They are also baked at homes as a snack or dessert, drenched with honey further readshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_potato
No matter how you say it, there’s no denying that the African ‘potato’ is an impressive crop. Unlike other non-native roots and tubers grown in many parts of Africa – such as cassava or sweet potatoes – African potatoes are high in protein and resilient to many pests and diseases.  They are also easy to raise and even easier to cook.
Despite their name, however, these ‘potatoes’ are not actually related to the common potato or potato relatives. They aren’t even related to the sweet potato, yam, or cassava. They are actually members of the mint family that includes herbs such as lavender, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, and basil.  African potatoes are similar to their family in that they grow fragrant leaves above ground that can be used for cooking, but different because of their large, edible roots beneath the soil.
These native potatoes grow throughout Africa but are often split up into two varieties based on where they grow on the continent.  The northern variety (S. rotundifolius) is often referred to as the hausa potato, Zulu potato, fabourama, or frafra potato, and produces small, oval-shaped roots.
On the other hand, the southern variety (P. esculentus) is known as the Livingstone potato or Madagascar potato, and produces long, fingerlike roots. Across their diverse growing environments, both varieties can produce large amounts of food from very small areas of land, partly readshttp://blogs.worldwatch.org/nourishingtheplanet/potato-potahto/

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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.