Chilowa Village Nsembe Heritage Site In Malawi
A few kilometers away from the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) Bunda campus rest a village called Chilowa and the head being T/A Chilowa. Myself accompanied by six other students we managed to visit the village in interest of seeing a place called “Nsembe” that a lies in the Chilowa Village. This trip was in accordance with #making heritage fun that was part of the 2016 World Heritage Day.
When we arrived at the Chilowa Village we meet a lady named Ida Tambula who in spite of her being busy with her house work she was happy to show as the Nsembe site. She took us to the place they call “Nsembe” which is quite close to her residence as well as her farm land. She explained to us about the Nsembe site to her best of knowledge.
The Nsembe site has for long being used as a place where the village heads of the surrounding Chilowa village together could come to offer their “Nsembe”. Long time back the Nsembe used to involve human life where by a life of a child from one of the villages would be offered as Nsembe to God in prayer for rain to come and Ida Tambula confirmed that indeed the rains could pour the same day in which they have offered their sacrifice and with their belief it meant God has answered their prayer. The offering was strictly only the years in which the rain did not promise to come. However the practice of offering human life as Nsembe was then abolished sum years back.
Currently the village heads do come to the site and they clear the land by burning the bush on the Nsembe land and they offer their prayer to God. The burning of the bush is to avoid the Nsembe site from being destroyed by the fires from other farm lands and also to avoid harboring snakes that would in danger lives of the people living in the surrounding village.
Ms. Tambula also enlightened us that the traditional Nsembe offering heritage had been passed on through family blood lines, the next village head in line was asked to accompany the village heads in the process of offering Nsembe offering so that they would learn how it was done. She also explained that the village heads used to dress in black and they would come to offer the Nsembe quite early in the morning on the agreed day.
After asking question on some issue to clarify, we then took group photos and then started our way back and on our way back admired the beauty of our Bunda Mountain with a closer look, John Muir once said “in every walk with nature once receives far more than he seek”. finally after a day of fun visiting the heritage site we returned back to our school campus for classes and other members had assignments.
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