By Malawi Exclusive
The leader of Chewa Shrines Makewana with his headquarters at Msinja in Lilongwe, has died.
Wakewana died peacefully at her home on Tuesday January 11, 2022. Advisor to Makewana , Group Village Headman Malemia said the death of Makewana is a huge loss to the Chewa People. Malemia said Makewana was so important in time of calamities and diseases.
“In time of dry spells or strange diseases , we used to go to Makewana for prayers. She played a big role to lead us in prayers we are so devastated, Chewa people are so much at pains,” said his advisor.
Commenting on the succession plan, following her death , Malemia said the senior people who form Shrine committee will sit down and map the way forward after the burial.
In time of Makewana death, tradition is strictly followed with many people in black attire.
Those involved in Makewana shrine activities are not allowed to come close and see the dead body.
Speaking on behalf of Chewa Heritage Foundation (CHEFO) Chairperson, Humphrey Murry who is also CHEFO Treasure General said Chewa people are at loss following the demise of Makewana.
Murry said CHEFO leadership was so proud to have someone a story teller and someone who was so influencial in the Chewa Culture.
Chewa Heritage Foundation in conjunction with Senior Chief Chadza, Chiseka and Masula few years ago visited Chewa shrines located in the Western side of Lilongwe which include Msinja.
Former CHEFO Chairperson, Professor Kanyama Phiri said the visit to the Chewa holy sites were very significant because of how important the place is to the history of Chewa People and indeed to the Malawi history. Some of places visited included Tsang’oma, Dziwe la Anamwali, Msinja.
Currently , CHEFO is working hard to preserve and protect and promote the sites. For the starters, some of the sites which CHEFO intend to preserve include Msinja, Kaphirintiya, Phirilanjuzi, Makewana, Chibazi (Msyamboza), Ngala ya Pakamwa, Khuluvi shrine, Bunda, Tsang’oma Shrine, Nanjiri shrine, Mankhamba Maravi Headquarters.
Msinja is of great significance, prompting the Oxford Reference (The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature) to describe it as a place where the central figure, the Makewana (the Mother of Children), “slept on a bed of ivory tusks”. One of the experts in Chewa History Dr. Winston Kawale wrote in one of his many articles:
“The Msinja religious shrine may be dated to as early as 13th century when the Chewa arrived in this part of Africa. As a religious city, Msinja functioned as a center of national worship for the Chewa people. Carlos Wiese, a German official in the Portuguese service, described the shrine at Msinja as “the Mecca of the Maravi”. This was because all the Chewa chiefs from Zambezi in Mozambique, Lwangwa in Zambia, to Kasungu, Lake Malawi and beyond, made their annual pilgrimages to Msinja to pray for rains and posterity in their homes. Msinja was a very popular and busy city. In 1830, Gamitto, a Portuguese traveler, noticed some commercial activity taking place at Msinja. It is also reported that David Livingstone visited Msinja in 1867.
Scholars such as W.H.J. Rangeley (1952), Samuel Nthara (1945), Matthew Schoffeleers (1973), William Emmet McFarren (1986) and J.W.M. van Breugel ((2001) have provided comprehensive impressive accounts of the history, and the events that took place at Msinja.