Monday, December 1, 2014

Of ancient Malawi’s Malira of the sea and moon…some Dr Maliya (Maria) healers?

Internet photo of the Indian Ocean
Internet photo of the Indian Ocean
“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea.
“And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears.
“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea - whether it is to sail or to watch it - we are going back from whence we came.” – John F. Kennedy (1962).
Red Clay Pot photo not related to this blog taken from…
Red Clay Pot photo not related to this blog taken from…
Ndine Nyangu”, a woman says after dipping her head into a big red clay pot full of water goes the latest Sapitwa oral story which this blog is not endorsing but just telling it like it is.
And when angry she would say in a code “Muzalira ndine mkazi” which in English can be summed up as the Wrath of a Woman.
So literally she was saying an enemy would cry because she is a woman who can be ruthless.
In the oral story, she was also a woman who went against the teachings of Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) by not loving her own children and doing all sorts of bad things including being full of revenge and pride says a Sapitwa healer.
All genuine male healers admit female energy in the spiritual realm is more powerful and they tap into it including trying to duplicate the hour-glass figure of a woman and her "sacred" womb of creation in the narrow neck calabash locally known as Nsupa.
They even "dress" it in beads, both the Ebony ones and African wine kettle gourd ones.  But such "power" can be used for the wrong things.

All genuine male healers also admit that when the MALIYA spirit "comes out" it's powerful and at times dangerous in that it's the most powerful and close to all the male spirits they tap into. This spirit is also known as one of the many Nyangus of ancient Malawi.
Nyangu means "manthongo" like the crust mucous stuff around the eyes and another rude version only for this oral story.
It also means "wopepera" like in foolish, a fool or someone lacking intelligence in relation to the ancient Nyangu spirit (mizimu) and not the many royal official ones.
The clay pot she used like others were always broken into pieces to be disposed of in thick forests of hills and mountains whenever they were not needed. She was the last female to use it for that specific purpose.
Ancient kings also used to wash their nyanga in clay pots today found on some mountains and picked by those who don't know what an omen they represent.
Once upon a time in this ancient land of Malawi as this blog continues repeating oral tales about the creation of gods and goddesses which were locally known as mizimu as in winged spirits, there lived a powerful female one known as Malira Tapalia of the North.
These spirits were different from ancestral ones which are locally known as mizimu yamakolo.
This woman also known as one of the Nyangus of ancient times did not bath and only dipped her head in water because she used a lot of nyanga involving charms and horns which are easily diluted by water.
This important food fish is known to English-speaking southern Africans as the Redbreast Tilapia. It is known generically as Chambo in Malawi. - Internet
This important food fish is known to English-speaking southern Africans as the Redbreast Tilapia. It is known generically as Chambo in Malawi. - Internet
It is not known if spirits bath but what happened is that priestesses who eventually became possessed with such spirits did not bath to keep their power.
Hence in ancient times if one wanted to dilute powers of such beings, they would throw water in their direction.
And since this Nyangu was from water hence her name also sounding like Tilapia fish with the most common species in Malawi being chambo….Malira was believed to appear as a mermaid because she could not get her lower body wet which was the source of her powers.
Some healers claimed such beings would also put snails to protect themselves from water.
That is why Malira was believed to be of the sea or ocean and some healers use the name Dr Maliya or Dr Maria to mean Malira whose salty tears where like the ocean.
This blog is not saying all Dr Marias sourced their name from Malira but that some of them whom this blog interviewed did.
Chambo, the most popular fish in Malawi - Internet photo
Chambo, the most popular fish in Malawi - Internet photo
Malira who did a lot of wrong because of magic (matsenga) is said to have always appeared crying and weeping with a baby on her back and her colour was blue like the ocean.
According to a Sapitwa healer this Malira whose name meant the way a woman cries during childbirth like in mwana amalira (the child cries) lived in what is today known as the Mandala area and the word “Mandala” was a Mang'anja nickname for a female autonomy.
For unknown reasons some healers insist most of Sub-Saharan Africa some 3000 years ago had spirits and Abathwa/Abatwa living there and claim that the rest came from the North travelling down to what is today called the South.
The Mandala Nyangu acted like a Mangadzi (berothed maiden) because of the “oracle’s spirit marriage to the python (serpent spirit) or god, whose bow was the rainbow.
Now this serpent spirit was Tomasi Bona (Atom) also known as Napolo of the North Wind.
This is the winged spirit the ancestors would look for whenever they wanted rains and it is the one Mbona (the Seer) would point his kandalanga two-edged sword besides Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) whom they believed was further North up in the Universe and beyond the Sun.
In ancient Malawi they believed the earth worked like a magnet with forces pulling each other from different areas to create Light, heat and even rainfall patterns which they believed came with positive and negative charges through lightning (mphenzi) and thunder (mabingu).
Lightning (Mphenzi) and Thunder (Mabingu) photo taken from
Lightning (Mphenzi) and Thunder (Mabingu) photo taken from
They also believed that when the South met the North that would symbolize floods and they would calculate where it would happen.  This is where the Malira spirit would come in together with Tomasi Bona.
This Malira spirit of the North was the opposite of Chinsinsi Sungamwana (Secret, Keep the Child) of the South who was her sister.
Now when this blog uses the term Mangadzi or Mang’adzi it’s not confirming if the Nyangu mentioned was one and neither is this Nyangu the one of many in ancient Malawi’s history.
In the official version which are a different story, Mang’adzi was similar to Makewana (mother of the children) but of the Mang’anja belief system.
Both Malira Tapalia and Chinsinsi Sungamwana carried the Tomas Bona spirit on their backs like this baby on the back of the mother statue
A "chosen" priestess carried the Tomas Bona spirit on their backs like this statue
It was through Malira where some belief systems originated that salt can cure many illnesses or problems.
Today some who practice ancient ways in Africa use salt or even urine to cure various ailments with some going to the extreme and using them to treat pink eye as in an infection.
As bizarre as it sounds, ironically Danish author Karen Blixen using her pen name Isak Dinesen in the 1934 ‘Seven Gothic Tales’ wrote “the cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea”.
Some geologists also claim that tears and ocean water have the same salt but that “sodium chloride (NaCl) that is in the ocean that accounts for its salinity, but less concentrated.
“Incidentally, our tears are basically pure, unlike the salt water of the ocean, which has all kinds of *other* salts and minerals floating around. They are salts, technically and chemically speaking, but not what most people think of when they hear "salt."
Malira was also connected to the lunar moon and through such belief systems women would not put salt in relish when on their menstrual cycle.  Salt was said to have been sourced from the ocean and sieved.
In Malawi kukhala ku mwezi means menstruation or being on one’s menstrual cycle. This was also a period when women could dilute the powers of the narrow necked calabash locally known as Nsupa and made from the Wine Kettle gourd which is only used by male asing’anga.
This is why male healers who use such gourds chase women on their cycles away because they claim their periods interfere with the magical blood they use to wash and give it “powers” while it’s in their square shape altars drawn with maize flour (ufa).
Globally the lunar maria are are large, dark, basaltic plains on the Earth’s moon formed by ancient volcanic eruptions. They were dubbed maria, Latin for "seas", by early astronomers who mistook them for actual seas according to
Meanwhile on a different note in 2005, Dr Mogege Mosimege, manager of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) in the Department of Science and Technology “when European settlers landed in South Africa, they hardly saw the locals as cutting-edge scientists and health practitioners.
Lunar mare (maria) photo taken from
“In fact the indigenous people harboured a treasure trove of remedies for all kinds of diseases, knowledge of how to farm effectively and principles of good nutrition. And African women who were mostly the gatekeepers of this knowledge always had a traditional fix for life’s problems.
“Researchers and grass roots workers alike increasingly recognise that in many communities women are natural resource managers and that they possess profound knowledge of the environment. They are also largely credited with keeping this knowledge alive and passing it on from generation to generation.
“Women play a crucial role in maintaining livelihoods, cultural continuity and community cohesion. Women are custodians of indigenous knowledge.
Indigenous knowledge is local or traditional knowledge generated by people living within a particular community — hence it is unique to a society or culture. It covers critical issues ranging from health to mathematics and technology, governance, astronomy, philosophy and animal husbandry.
In other countries "The Ocean has great significance in the Zulu tradition; the Zulu word for ocean is ‘ulwandle’ and for Sangomas in general, it is seen as a place of great power and spirit energy," partly reads
On a different note in other countries "The Ocean has great significance in the Zulu tradition; the Zulu word for ocean is ‘ulwandle’ and for Sangomas in general, it is seen as a place of great power and spirit energy," partly reads
Often the knowledge is unwritten and this means it is not easily codifiable, and runs the risk of being lost or forgotten if not actively practised by a community.
“Women play important roles, including bringing up kids and in their nurturing role, they pass on knowledge to their children and share traditions with the next generation.
And Dr Otsile Ntsoane, deputy director of IKS said “a blend of culture and craft can be seen in the clay pots of the Bakgatla and Bahurutshe women of the North West province.
“The women have developed myths and taboos that go with the production of clay pots.  An example is a female who is in her menstrual cycle, should not get near or get involved in clay pot making. The clay pot is symbolic of women’s role in creating new life.
“Pottery is a refined art with a spiritual dimension and women place their spirits in the clay by singing before they begin to create the pot. The production of the pot becomes an extension of the collective energy that is invoked through song.
The spirit of healing is embodied as a goddess, which is why sangomas, both male and female, wear “female” clothing with a queen-like head dress”, further reads
Sapitwa healers say this image of "Makewana" with a nsengwa small basket is accurate.  But this blog is not writing about this official "Makewana". Photo – © 2013 Max Dashu – image created for [Malawi] Woman Shaman: the Ancients taken from
Sapitwa healers say this image of "Makewana" [Mother of the Children] with a nsengwa small basket is accurate.
But this blog is not writing about this official "Makewana".
Photo – © 2013 Max Dashu – image created for [Malawi] Woman Shaman: the Ancients 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.