Saturday, January 30, 2016

Ancient Malawi Beer for the living, the dead & spirits (mizimu)

*Note: I’m still still researching ancient Malawi beer and this is unfunded amateur and not scholar work in response to a few Malawian men who have been attacking me and trying but failing to discourage me from blogging about priestesses.  
I will be seeking funding to enable me travel to different places of historical interest and make this blog more professional as it has been my hobby and passion for years despite what a few men who hate the role of women in ancient Malawi say.
Beer sorghum
Eat, drink and be merry with local beer (mowa wamasese) and ncwala which fills the tummy?
In Egypt, beer was regarded as food. In fact, the old Egyptian hieroglyph for “meal” was a compound of those for “bread” and “beer”. –
Beer, called hqt (heqet) in ancient Egypt reportedly included malt and so did the Nguni’s called “imithombo (malt), maize and mabele” according to a South African Facebook friend.
And an African-American Facebook friend said “malted barley flour is made from barley that is malted (e.g. barley that is allowed to germinate), steam-dried, hulled, then ground and sifted.”
Beer drinking
Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs for day of drunkenness shared on Facebook
Some ancient healers of Malawi in various rituals including oracles would say THEKA THEKA (HALF) in the Chinyanja language similar to balancing scales which was done by the one in the centre.
This meant the one in the middle balanced the left and right side to be able to “see” the spirit world.
Now when some ancient priest-hoods (ansembe) used Ufa (flour) as a nsembe offering, it was in a cupped hand as K and also measured as THEKA THEKA (HALF, HALF).
Theka Theka
THEKA, THEKA (HALF, HALF) measuring ufa (flour) in the palm – Photo by Agnes Mizere
If the scale spiritually balanced then they would say the person is balanced but if it tilted they would read further into that person using their belief systems.
So we have Theka as half -theka as in zitheka as to mean to be possible so using those words we can also say So Mote it be…it’s possible Ase.
The Theka, Theka meaning Half, Half measurement was done in the palm of the hand to measure ufa (flour) for nsembe offerings and to also measure and weigh the ingredients for making local beer in relation to the spirit world.
Tekha in ancient Egypt was also the weigher, the pointer of the scales according to the online book ‘The Sound of Meaning:  Comparative Linguistics of Ancient Egyptian, Maya and Nahuatl’ by Charles William Johnson who on p13 defines “Mexican” as an “Aryan language closely akin to Sanskrit and Avestan but more primitive than either, in fact Aryan of the proethnic period.”
Last judgement of Hunefer before Osiris, Book of the Dead, Hunefer’s tomb at Thebes, Egypt, Dynasty XIX, c. 1285 BCE, painted papyrus online photo
from flashcardmachine.comLast judgement of Hunefer before Osiris, Book of the Dead, Hunefer's tomb at Thebes, Egypt, Dynasty XIX, c. 1285 BCE, painted papyrus1Emily BenfieldARTH
But unlike the Mexican analysis of Johnson, ancient Malawi’s Theka applied both to measuring grain flour and alcohol contents on top of the judgment of the heart.
Mtima wabwino kapena woyipa meant a good or bad heart to mean a good or evil person in ancient beliefs.
For figuring out oracles they would observe and sense a person’s heart to see what emotions were inside based on their belief system and they would also study the right and left eye to try and read into the person’s soul together with the hidden heart.
Gone are those days but still worth recording as ancient myths as nature had rock scales which ancestors from priesthoods studied but it’s not known if Sanjika Rock where John Chilembwe spent time was a balanced Rock used in ancient times.
Sanjika Rock where John Chilembwe spent time. Kamuzu’s Sanjika Palace also has the same name. Photo by Agnes Mizere
Imwa thapysa muyezo as in kulezera mopitirila (drunkenness) also meant measuring and weighing the scales and kondwererani in ancient times whose equivalent in English is eat, drink and be merry.
Muyezo is usually defined as a “measurement standard” so the meaning was for one to enjoy their life as much as they can before they leave this world.
The beer for the living, dead and spirits (mizimu) involved the spirit of Mikolo Njinjinji (Sacred African Ibis) and Mbona of the West wind as in black and the grey clouds for rain among others and not the Mbona known by most Malawians but the one from centuries ago who had a hidden name.
Mbona is usually broken down as in –ona as in to see and a different spirit from Bona of the North wind also known as Napolo hence Tomasi Bona.
Their colour was green for agriculture and sacrifices included traditional beer for 20 f the left side and 20 of the right making a total of 40.
Women are usually given a ‘due date’ for their baby that is calculated as 280 days after the onset of their last menstrual period which is roughly 40 weeks though not exact but representing life (moyo).
The known Malawi was in the Ulendo Series Mtunda 8 Chichewa for Standard 8 book published by Dzuka Publishing Company in 1982 but the one connected to Bona has never been written about before and he is one of many said to be at the hidden Sapitwa kingdom and not the rock peak some tourists climb.
Mbona knife
Mbona illustration from the Ulendo Series Mtunda 8 Chichewa book for Standard 8
In ancient Malawi there were mainly two groups of spirits ranging from mizimu yamakolo (ancestral spirits) to mizimu (spirits) which have never been human including the winged ones.
Now in the Chichewa or Chinyanja language of Malawi the word -kondwa means happy and -kondwera is be pleased so in a nutshell -kondwa also means merry as in to be merry.
Some Malawian men who enjoying drinking in taverns describe Chibuku as the sorghum beer that makes them merry and full hence they say “kondwererani” ndi mowa wa Chibuku chifukwa umakhutitsa”.
Chibuku Shake Shake photo taken from
According to online sources Chibuku, the traditional sorghum opaque beer is made from sorghum and some barley malt.
Strangely, there are no websites defining or giving the history of Malawi’s mowa wamasese (local beer) or ucwala so this blog uses the commercially known type captured online.
“Chibuku was first brewed in Zimbabwe in 1962. Chibuku, a market leader in the sorghum beer category is a traditional sorghum opaque beer brewed with the finest maize and sorghum locally grown in Zimbabwe”. –
However the ‘Zulu Beer – Utshwala besizulu’ website is more defined explaining how the alcoholic beverage is brewed mostly by women over a three day period and it’s ingredients include 1 kg malt (umthombo wombila), 4 pkts 1kg malt (umthombo wamabele), 1 kg mielie meal and boiling water. –
Beer was a very important Egyptian drink and the staple drink for adults and offering to the gods and dead wrote Caroline Seawright in 2001 on
In ancient Egypt becoming drunk was TEKHU drink TEKHAU drunkard TEKHTA habitual drunkard TEKH the “drunken” festival TEKHAIT, TEKHIT drunkenness TEKH to drink, to drink oneself drunk which also sounds like Tequila the Mexican drink according to other websites.
In the Eber Papyrus “Half an onion and the froth of beer was considered “a delightful remedy against death,” according to the Crystalinks website under Ancient Egyptian Medicine
“Tekh, a holiday which translates to “drunkenness”, observes the myth of Sekhmet nearly destroying mankind but ceased upon intoxication. In Ancient Egypt Tekh was allegedly celebrated through intoxication in addition to rituals.
“In the temple of Dendera the ritual for Tekh spanned five days which included a procession of Het-Hert to the temple roof,  returning back to Her shrine slowly, then the procession of the Dendera Ennead to the temple roof for the ritual of uniting with the sun disc.
“The laymen during this time, if they could manage it, would also celebrate.  There are records of drunkenness in the temple so worshipers would get closer to Sekhmet through intoxication” according to

Photo from Pinterest on

Month 1; Tekh (Thoth, Thuti, Thout, Djwhty)
10            procession of Isis (Late Period)
15            Hapi and Amun
17-18      Wagy or Wag
19           Wag and Thoth. festival
20          Tekh (drunkenness)
22          Great Procession of Osiris.
30          Osiris and Ennead
“In a myth about the end of Ra’s rule on the earth, Ra sends Hathor or Sekhmet to destroy mortals who conspired against him.
“In the myth, Sekhmet’s blood-lust was not quelled at the end of battle and led to her destroying almost all of humanity, so Ra poured out beer dyed with red ochre or hematite so that it resembled blood. Mistaking the beer for blood, she became so drunk that she gave up the slaughter and returned peacefully to Ra”, according to
Cover Sekhmet RGB - Kindle
Many have written about ancient Egypt’s spirits 

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.