Monday, June 22, 2015

Of ancient Malawi mermaid's wrath, ululation and Napolo landslides tale

Hans Christen Andersen writes in ‘The Little Mermaid’, “But a mermaid has no tears.”

This line directly contradicts other fanciful writers and dreamers who say that mermaid tears become pearls, or that the green pebbles found on the Floridan Iona shoreline are the tears of a mermaid.
And maybe so. Like the legend that mermaids are guardians and avengers of women, perhaps any remaining mermaid of legend cries unmercifully over the condition of the seas – Mermaid Tears — Another Nautical Disaster
The-Little-Mermaid-Movie-Poster1
“Ululululululu” a village woman near Michiru Mountain in Blantyre hears early in the morning after a night of heavy rainfall and chilly weather.
She’s out earlier figuring the rains have reduced and is on her way to draw water from the nearest “river” which in actually sense is a water body.
But as she approaches she sees a woman with long dreadlocks dressed in a white robe coming out of the water and ululating as she sinks back below again as if swimming in a straigh line.
Stunned the woman stares into the water and suddenly sees the woman rise up again and the rocks before her move as if clearing a straight path for something to pass through. Noticing the strange events before her the woman concludes that Napolo, the mythical serpent spirit is about to locate from the hills to the waters and the mermaids ululations is a warning for every being in its path to move away.
This is an actual story told by a village woman to this blog about the half woman and half fish spirit she claims she saw in the water before a landslide hit the area some years ago which might have been in the 1990s.
In Malawi people rejoice with loud ululations during weddings or when dancing and it’s locally known a kululuta hence ntungululu.
That sound is also the ones some villagers in Mulanje claim they hear before Napolo landslides hit the area some five minutes or so before to give people enough time to run uphill.

Woman not mermaid and python drawing from http://exploremalawi.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-to-make-it-rain-malawian-ancestral.html
Woman not mermaid and python drawing fromhttp://exploremalawi.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-to-make-it-rain-malawian-ancestral.html

“Ndine Nyangu ”, a woman says after dipping her head into a big red clay pot full of water goes a SapiTWA oracle this blog told late last year about ancient Malawi’s mermaid spirits (mizimu).
This Nyangu known as Malira (“you have cried”) is a water spirit known by different names.
She proudly wears a “phande” also locally known as “ngale’ as a necklace which in English is a “pearl” but this blog is talking about the actual shell whose scientific name remains a mystery.
This blog does not know what exactly is found inside the Phande shell but some healers claim some thorn looking things and a secret as in Chinsinsi which sounds like Isis with chinsinsi the Chinyanja word for secret.
And when angry, Nyangu 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.
All genuine male healers 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 but in the African water spirit world of mermaids.
The MALIYA spirit is Intersex and has both male and female sexual organs so it reproduced. She is also very dramatic and fierce.
When trainee African priestesses (nsembe) got a shell like this one from Sapitwa as it was sourced in the Indian Ocean it symbolized the spirit world opening up to them especially MALIYA.
According to a Sapitwa healer such mythical spirits are half woman and half fish so priestesses who follow their teachings are not supposed to eat fish.

Lake Malawi sea shells
Lake Malawi sea shells

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) who was misunderstood 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 and passed on some teachings to her priestesses.
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.
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 in their forbidden areas to protect themselves from water there or they had the body of a fish to keep the water out.
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.
Malira who also specialized in magic (matsenga) like in Disney films is said to have always appeared crying and weeping with a baby on her back and her colour was blue like the ocean.

Ancient Malawi's Phande shell also known as Ngale (Pearls) associated with female water spirits like mermaids
Ancient Malawi’s Phande shell also known as Ngale (Pearls) associated with female water spirits like mermaids

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.
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.
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.
A “chosen” priestess carried the Tomas Bona spirit on their backs as a mother and it was through Malira where some belief systems originated that salt can cure many illnesses or problems.
Mermaids in ancient history are not unique to Malawi with other mother figures like “Mami Wata” (Mammy Water) being venerated in West, Central, Southern Africa, and in the African diaspora in the Caribbean and parts of North and South America.

In December 2012 37thSTATE presented 'LADY IN THE WATER'- A mami-wata documentary. Published by @Lanredavieshttp://www.factory78.com/2012/12/37thstate-presents-lady-in-water-mami.html
In December 2012 37thSTATE presented ‘LADY IN THE WATER’- A mami-wata documentary. Published by @Lanredavieshttp://www.factory78.com/2012/12/37thstate-presents-lady-in-water-mami.html

“Mami Wata” where “Mami” is the Pidgin English spelling of mammy (mother) “Wata” is the Pidgin English spelling of water is essentially a mermaid or humanistic water entity.
“Mami Wata is often described as a mermaid-like figure, with a woman’s upper body (often nude) and the hindquarters of a fish or serpent. In other tales, Mami Wata is fully human in appearance (though never human).
“The existence and spiritual importance of Mami Wata is deeply rooted in the ancient tradition and mythology of the coastal southeastern Nigerians (Efik, Ibibio and Annang people). Mami Wata often carries expensive baubles such as combs, mirrors, and watches.
A large snake (symbol of divination and divinity) frequently accompanies her, wrapping itself around her and laying its head between her breasts,” further reads the unofficial Wikipedia about Mami Wata.
In the West, tales by Hans Christian Anderson including ‘Little Mermaid’ were very popular.
And as a divine healer, Isis shared the secrets of healing and preparation of medical potions to her priestesses. Isis is also credited for bringing the secrets of law and agriculture.
The Temple of Aset, or Isis as she is known to most, at Philae was a jewel within a jewel and built on two tiny yet beautiful islands in the midst of the Nile waters.
The island itself was called the “Pearl of Egypt” by many, and was thought to be one of the burial places of Osiris – the husband of Isis, in ancient Egyptian mythology.
Pearls were prized by rulers and royalty with Julius Caesar limiting the wearing of pearl jewelry to the rulers of the Roman Empire during the first century BC In the glory days of the British Empire, only royalty were allowed to wear these lustrous gems.
Daughters of Isis
Online sources also show that until fairly recently, pearls were still worn exclusively by royalty and wealthy nobility, as they were far too expensive for anyone else to afford.
According to Stephen Bloom, a journalism professor at the University of Iowa, real pearls grow in oysters and mussels, which are incredibly adept at filtering sand out of their systems.
“What happens is that a tiny piece of coral or an unfortunate tiny living organism attaches itself to the meat of the oyster and, in order to protect itself from the irritation, the oyster covers the invader with layers of nacre, the smooth, luminous substance that makes up the pearl. Now this is how natural pearls are created, but it’s extremely rare to find a natural pearl.
“Almost all pearls today are cultured or cultivated pearls. In oysters, they’re grown by inserting a small bead — which is made of a piece of clam shell from the Mississippi River Delta — and a piece of oyster tissue into the mollusk; in Chinese mussels there are no beads, just tissue inserted.
“The shells are returned to the water, turned regularly, and harvested. Oysters produce one pearl, like an egg and a yolk, while a mussel can produce as many as 60 pearls of all different shapes and colors.
China, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, French Polynesia, Australia, Mexico, and the Phillippines are producers. Pearls from Japanese oysters made up the largest portion of the market for many years. In the 1970s, the Chinese started producing freshwater pearls in mussels, and today, 99% of freshwater pearls come from China. Most people involved in crafts use Chinese pearls,” he said in a 2010 article titled ‘Tears of Mermaids: The Secret Story of Pearls.
In 1493, sailing off the coast of Hispaniola, Christopher Columbus reported seeing three “female forms” which “rose high out of the sea, but were not as beautiful as they are represented”.
The logbook of Blackbeard, an English pirate, records that he instructed his crew on several voyages to steer away from charted waters which he called “enchanted” for fear of merfolk or mermaids, which Blackbeard himself and members of his crew reported seeing.

http://www.ancientdigger.com/2013/02/the-history-and-meaning-of-ancient.html
“The shells of fresh water sea life were used to craft bracelets and necklaces for both men and women. The cowrie shell, which has an indented lip, looks like the slit of an eye. Egyptians believed this shell to be a prophylactic against the evil eye. This belief is still head true in parts of Africa and the Mediterranean.” http://www.ancientdigger.com/2013/02/the-history-and-meaning-of-ancient.html

In August 2009, after dozens of people reported seeing a mermaid leaping out of the water and doing aerial tricks, the Israeli coastal town of Kiryat Yam reportedly offered a $1 million award for proof of its existence.
In February 2012, work on two reservoirs near Gokwe and Mutarke in Zimbabwe stopped when workers refused to continue, stating that mermaids had hounded them away from the sites. It was reported by Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, the water resources minister according to a report in The Herald. http://www.herald.co.zw/mermaids-stopping-govt-work-sipepa-nkomo/

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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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