Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dziwe la Nkhalamba: Secrets of ancient Malawi priestesses and Mibawa staff (ndodo)

This blog is once again only sharing an oral story as told by a SapiTWA priestess the type of asing’anga (traditional healers) who were responsible for nsembe (offerings) in ancient times.
In ancient times such a priestess would have a walking stick or cane made from Mbawa, an indigenous tree scientifically grouped as Khaya nyasica and known as Mibawa when many.
Today they lost their shrines including one believed to be near Dziwe la Nkhalamba in Mulanje and are grouped together with other healers who don’t make offerings at ancient shrines hidden in mountains. 
In ancient times such priestesses only worked with royal families who gave many of their offerings to an ancient spirit known as Nyangu in the same way some Malawians today freely make offerings elsewhere including donations.
In ancient times some of our ancestors made offerings whenever they wanted something from the spirit world and would go through ancestral spirits (mizimu yamakolo) or winged spirits which have never been human (mizimu) which some call angels in English to get to Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) whom they believed was in the Universe hence ABOVE.

Sapitwa healers say this image of "Makewana" with a nsengwa small basket and cane is accurate.  But this blog is not writing about this official "Makewana" and doesn't know if she used a mibawa cane. Photo – © 2013 Max Dashu – image created for [Malawi] Woman Shaman: the Ancients taken from
Sapitwa healers say this image of “Makewana” with a staff is accurate.
But this blog is not writing about this official “Makewana” and doesn’t know if she used a mibawa cane.
Photo – © 2013 Max Dashu – from
The four winds of Sapitwa blow from the deep waters across the oceans and through the hilltops of Mulanje Mountain to announce the arrival of a priestess into a “village” led by the mythical but invisible spirit of Nyangu hitting the ground with a mbawa walking stick (ndodo) three times.
The ancient staff hits the ground as if waking up the world of the spirits believed to be in water throughout the world and under most land including the mythical ones globally known as mermaids.
Her eyes wide and staring in front and around, the elderly scary looking woman keeps walking in front of the one she chose to protect and clear her path to her destination.
Those who have the misfortune of seeing the elderly Nyangu would face her wrath because she only revealed herself to those who tried to harm the priestess she protects and creates a straight path for her to walk in to reach her destination like a Queen.
The one walking behind her was expected to hold their right hand towards the chest to symbolize holding the heart and not losing one’s temper but remaining calm as the ancient elderly spirit led the way.
The elderly spirit (nkhalamba) would move the head and eyes like a chameleon (nanzikambe) until it reached its destiny with a hunched back and face sometimes looking towards the ground meaning the area is a sacred place for mwala wam’nkhalamba (the rock of the elderly or elders).
This was in line with an ancient sacred place called Dziwe la Nkhalamba where elderly spirits and white robes were said to appear to lucky ones but it no longer happens because the place has been defiled and is no longer considered holy and pure according to the priestess who still follows the ways of her ancestors.

Dziwe la Nkhalamba (sacred ancient swimming pool for the elderly) is below like in WATER
Dziwe la Nkhalamba (sacred ancient swimming pool for the elderly) is below like in WATER

Upside triangle of the star
Upside triangle of the star

This spirit was also believed to appear like a western definition witch (mfiti) with a pointed chin when fighting battles in the astral realm because the elders believed it sometimes took a witch to fight and catch a witch in the same way some in the West claim there is so-called “white magic” which they say is good and “black magic” which they say is evil.
The pointed chin is also part of the upside triangle of ancient Malawi which symbolized ziwanda (demons) and that one brother of this ancient land now called Malawi turned everything of Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) upside down so go oral tales.
However some would tap into the powers of ziwanda during battles but in a different way from Christian and other beliefs.  This blog uses ancient African meanings and terms which are different from those known today.
In Malawi black magic is associated with kutamba as in witchcraft involving flying to harm innocent people and to graveyards in the spiritual form and white magic is viewed as kukhwima protection rituals which don’t involve harming innocent people but protecting oneself from harm.
When such problems arise, some elders do a primitive exorcism to get the possessing spirit out which was different from the banned ancient mwabvi poison concoction ritual to rid villages of suspected witches (afiti).
Now the elderly spirit known as the first Nyangu of this ancient land fell from grace and she’s said to walk with a cane and at times appear as a beautiful young woman but a Sapitwa oracle shows all her wrongs are being correct by her descendant chosen to the ancient priesthood but with no one to serve.
This elderly spirit was the Queen of Magic and is said to possess a certain innocent village woman in Malawi who is expected to live over the age of 100 because of her.
Elders have been trying to tame this spirit which has become her shadow in order to dilute its kukhwima powers so that it can only do good and get back to her husband is what the priestess told this blog.
She has almond eyes, high cheekbones but white hair which in ancient times was also a symbol of royalty which would be the equivalent of a Traditional Authority who has land named after their name.

Ancient Malawi's Nyangu spirit was called Sungamwana (keep the child) and resembled this statue of ancient Egypt's Isis whom a healer nicknamed Chinsinsi Sungamwana (Secret, Keep the Child)
Ancient Malawi’s Nyangu spirit was called Sungamwana (keep the child) and resembled this statue of ancient Egypt’s Isis whom a healer nicknamed Chinsinsi Sungamwana (Secret, Keep the Child)

You see this elderly female spirit is said to have two hidden symbolic horns which resemble the one of some statues online described as being of ancient Egypt’s Isis.
She’s also said to have some magical (matsenga) words which only worked when she or those she possessed used them.
But this blog is not claiming that statue of Isis is definitely ancient Malawi’s Nyangu but just making an observation and would like to hear from those familiar with the ancient story of Isis to explain all her symbols.
It’s because of this ancient belief that elders would gather at Dziwe la Nkhalamba (swimming pool for the elderly) and start singing a sacred song as they called the spirit of Nyangu who also used the name Sungamwana (Keep the Child).
Inu mayi ee, bwera, bwera ee, Sungamwana ee, uzamudalise ee….inu mayi ee, bwera, bwera ee” (oh you our mother yes, come, come yes, Keep the Child yes, bless this one yes….).
The elderly men and women would hold suspected Mibawa canes or walking sticks which might be a type of African Mahogany in English and tap on the ground three times while moving their feet in rhythm with the sacred music.
Online Mibawa is defined as Mbawa when it’s a single tree while others are Muwawa and Bulamwiko listed as Khaya nyasica scientifically.

Internet photo showing the tree locally known as M'Mbawa
Internet photo not connected to this blog showing the tree locally known as M’Mbawa

The sceptre or staff is said to be one of the most ancient symbols of authority.
In ancient Egypt the words “nobleman” and “official” both included the hieroglyph of a staff, so at an early stage the staff seems to have represented the authority of any person with significant power, not just the king.
“One of the oldest staffs discovered in Egypt was recovered from a pre-dynastic grave in El Omari Lower Egypt (a neolithic site now absorbed by the suburbs of Cairo). We do not know whether the owner of this staff was a local chief, or priest, but it is generally agreed that the staff was an emblem of his authority. The staff soon became associated with pharaonic authority.
“An early scepter carved from wood to resemble a bundle of reeds was recovered from a First Dynasy mastaba in Saqqara. Similar fragments were found in royal tombs at Abydos and the pharaoh Den is depicted on an ivory label holding a long staff. A beautiful gold and sard ceremonial sceptre was recovered from the tomb of Khasekhemwy partly reads
And Horus the Elder, from his flat-share temple at Kom Ombo as in Heru wer, known to the Greeks as Haroeris, Horus the Elder orHorusthe Great had in the second half of the god’s name a stooping old man leaning on a stick.
“This is usually the determinative for an old man but it can also be used for a chief or great man, as the village headman would probably be a wise elder – or so one would hope, anyway,” according to

"The sceptre or staff is one of the most ancient symbols of authority."
“The sceptre or staff is one of the most ancient symbols of authority.”

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.