Saturday, January 17, 2015

Of Ancient Malawi’s White Sapitwa rocks and oral tales & myths about them

An asteroid, designated 2004 BL86, will safely pass about three times the distance of Earth to the moon on January 26. From its reflected brightness, astronomers estimate that the asteroid is about a third of a mile (0.5 kilometers) in size. The flyby of 2004 BL86 will be the closest by any known space rock this large until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past Earth in 2027.
An asteroid, designated 2004 BL86, will safely pass about three times the distance of Earth to the moon on January 26. From its reflected brightness, astronomers estimate that the asteroid is about a third of a mile (0.5 kilometers) in size. The flyby of 2004 BL86 will be the closest by any known space rock this large until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past Earth in 2027.   Photo:
This blog asks scientists if some asteroids are white and with sharp edges like a sword?  Why?  Because a Sapitwa priestess claims to have seen one in space yet she does not have the same instruments and tools like those in the West who spot these space rocks.
Instead she has oral stories and tales and what she refers to as oracles from Sapitwa which this blog is not endorsing but just repeating them as a messenger and voice for the voiceless.
A mythical entrance to the astral realm of Sapitwa in ancient oral stories is said to be a white hidden rock found at Dziwe la Nkhalamba and is the foundation of all the beliefs of ancient Sapitwa priestesses (nsembe).
They also claim the place was once known as a swimming pool for the elderly and those who saw an elderly man with white hair and wrinkles were said to be lucky and “blessed.” In ancient times clothes were also said to at times appear there on the rocks.
But it’s not know if this rock was formed part of particles from ancient asteroids that fell on earth.
Now a Sapitwa priestess claims a huge white rock with sharp edges has appeared and that is the reason why it’s not business as usual for them since they fled once spotting it.
According to them the white rock symbolizes fire just like a red mpolowani tree (the Steganotaenia Araliacea) growing somewhere in Mulanje. Red is also the colour of flames which is a nickname for Malawi.
Does the term "Malawi Flames" refer to the reddish orange flames of fire or something else? INTERNET PHOTO
Does the term “Malawi Flames” refer to the reddish orange flames of fire or something else?
This rock also appears at a time when the name Maliya as in Malira (to cry) has been revealed.  The other names of this ancient spirit are Tapalia and Tapacha and she was believed to be very powerful and a mermaid which also appeared as a huge fish as big as a room.
Malira’s colour was blue as she was from water but her headgear was said to be white to symbolize all that is pure and the Afterlife.
Visiting rural areas in many parts of Malawi one is bound to hear all sorts of myths and tales about so-called magic which could compete with Harry Potter like fiction stories and Two ways to the mythical Afterlife.
Rural Mulanje is also home to other tales about a mysterious Nthipe or Ntipe river, apparently a name of a bird and river or stream that flows from Sapitwa, the highest peak to Dziwe la Nkhalamba.
But it is not known if the so-called Great Black Cormorant of the Northern Hemisphere is also found in Malawi.
Internet photo of White-breasted Cormorant
Internet photo of White-breasted Cormorant
However, several tour guides did not know this stream or river when asked and instead spoke of Chisepu and Rua. But Sapitwa healers insist the ancient name of a stream on the mountain is Nthipe which is a bird known in English as Cormorant.
Bird experts say the word Nthipe or Ntipe refers to the White Breasted Cormorant, the Reed Cormorant and the African Darter.
Now in ancient Malawi myths tales, this river was the place where the soul was supposedly transported to the underworld which had two directions…one to the right which symbolized those from the east and those from the darkness which symbolized all those from the west.
In these “primitive” beliefs the soul would go through Sapitwa and a process involving a map through the rumoured underworld there.  However with the coming in of mainstream religions most Malawians don’t believe that and are known to be God-fearing so the myths and tales remain in ancient history.
However, in many Asian and Middle Eastern countries white is the colour of death and in some Asian cultures white is also considered to be a colour which represents death.
When this blog uses the word “white” or “black” it’s not referring to races but only to different colours also used in paintings and other works of art.
A Sapitwa rock which glows in the dark
White in ancient Malawi was also viewed as the colour of death because spirits (mizimu) were believed to appear as if they’re wearing white robes. In ancient Egypt white clothing reflected the white of mummification together.
“White also represented death in ancient Egypt, representing the lifeless desert that covered much of the country; black was held to be the colour of life, representing the mud-covered fertile lands created by the flooding of the Nile and giving the country its name (Kemet or “black land”) read various Internet sources.
Does this ancient Egypt drawing represent the dead or the living?
Now there is a mythical Sapitwa rock which is blackish in colour with a bit of white showing.  When it faded to become white, it was considered to represent the afterworld of which the owner would eventually join.
On the other hand black Egypt was said to be the colour of the life-giving silt left by the Nileinundation, which led to the ancient name for the country Kemet meaning the “black land”.
The colour black was seen as symbolizing fertility, new life, and resurrection as seen through the yearly agricultural cycle and it also was the colour of Osiris, the “black one” and the “resurrected god of the dead” and “Dweller in the Funeral Mountain” according to various internet sources.
It’s also a fact that some religious men in several traditional religions have for centuries worn black clothing without being labeled negative names.  Some beliefs pointed at black scientifically being the absence of colour and showing one’s lack of concern for the dictates of fashion.
In ancient African spiritual beliefs, black was the colour for rain and hence a black cloth, black goat or black cattle were sent to various deities as a price for rain during droughts among other things.
Rain clouds appear black and in some ancient Malawian beliefs they believed in Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) and went through royal spirits they believed to be close to the Creator when asking for rain among other things.
Black clouds before it rains
In what many online sources and authors call the “Mbona cult” a black cloth was also used and said to “cover the bed in the hut of Mbona” in the books Animals and Ancestors by Brian Morris and Rivers of Blood: The Genesis of a Martyr Cult in Southern Malawi by J.M. Schoffeleers.
Travelling to Mulanje in the month of October or November along the Thyolo road one is bound to notice black clouds forming in the sky to indicate the beginning of the rainy season.
As the majestic Mulanje mountain appears in a distance, it’s Sapitwa peak appearing to beckoning chosen ones, one cannot help but notice what looks like clouds or fog surrounding it.
For some Mang’anja Sapitwa healers, the formation of black clouds are an indication the rains are near and they study the clouds to figure out where it’s raining and where it will rain next.
This is also done by studying the formation of black clouds on hill tops and activities in water bodies.  A specific black cloud which seems to glow with the sun is also believed to guide some healers to chosen places for what they call their spirits (mizimu).
The healers who tell myths that the astral realm of Sapitwa peak is home to ancestral spirits hence the dead claim to follow the greyish/black cloud to where their “royal spirit” takes them and stop where it stops.
Black for them is also the colour of their version of Mbona.  However, the official and accepted Mbona story by the valuable custodians of that culture is documented under Unesco’s Khulubvi and Associated Mbona Sacred Rain Shrines world heritage site.
“Khulubvi sacred shrine is located in Nsanje District, in the lower Shire Valley in Southern Region of Malawi, It is an important spiritual place among the people of Mang’anja tribe. It is a place where the Mang’anja worship the spirit of Mbona.
“According to Mang’anja oral tradition, Mbona was a legendary figure with super human powers who lived in the area during the rise of the Lundu Kingdom. Mbona is said to have had magic powers of bringing rain, creating wells of water on sandy lands, creating forests where they did not exist and hiding from enemies by turning into other creatures such as guinea fowls.
“It is said that Mbona’s uncle Mlauli, who was also a magician envied his nephew and wanted to kill Mbona. Mlauli, however, failed to kill Mbona because he wished to die on his own by telling Mlauli and his enemies to cut his throat with a leaf of a reed after other weapons had failed to harm him.
This drawing of ancient Egypt's Osiris looks like the "dead" Photo from
This drawing of ancient Egypt’s Osiris looks like the “dead”
Photo from
“His head was cut and placed at Khulubvi sacred groove, where the shrine exists today. People who knew his magic works began coming to the place periodically to worship the spirit of Mbona. A traditional hut within Khulubvi natural thicket of approximately 100 square metres was constructed as a worshipping site,” further reads the Unesco cultural heritage website about Mbona.
Some ancestors believed Mbona was “gifted with powers from the heavens” and would invoke the rains during a drought using his two-edged knife/sword locally known as kandalanga to point to the north to provoke the four winds which consist of the north, south, west and east to form the ancient African cross used by some village “Mbona healers”.
For centuries such healers have believed that Mulanje Mountain and it’s Sapitwa Peak are a source of rain and rivers.
The unofficial online Wikipedia claims that “most affected by the ITCZ in the Mulanje Area, is the Mulanje Massif, because its unique position as a “mountain island”, rising up more than 2500 metres above the plains around. This setting is responsible for the Massifs’ role as a rain barrier that forces the clouds to come down in the form of rain.Image
“This becomes very visible if we take a look at the annual normal rainfalls, on and around the massif. On plateau level, at around 2000 metres above sea level, we annually experience more than 250 mm (100 inches) of rain, however, in the low plains around the foot of the Massif, the annual rainfalls, range around 40 inch.
“In the plains around the Mountain, it normally only rains in the rainy season, while it rains all year long, on plateau level. The rains are just more intense and frequent then in the dry season.
But, there are still differences in the amounts of rain, around the Massif. The south-west face of the Mountain, is the weather side around Likhubula Lichenya and Mulanje Boma, which experiences the highest amounts of rain, due to the south-east trades of the southern hemisphere, that drive the moist air from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo into the Mulanje region. Therefore the North-west face of the Massif experiences lesser rains, as it is situated in the shadows of the high Peaks of the Massif,” further reads the unofficial Wikipedia.
The unofficial online encyclopedia also claims that “the elevation of the mountain is high enough for it to disturb upper level air flow and induce rain clouds to form around it, making it an important source of rain water at the head of almost every river that runs through this part of Malawi.”
Leaves of ancient Sapitwa “Mpingo” tree

No comments:

Post a Comment

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.