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The Dying Nyau Masquerades of Malawi

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Nyau is a secret society of the Chewa, an ethnic tribe of the Bantu.

The Nyau consist of initiates that are regarded as mature members of the society. The Nyau society is made up of people from the Chewa and Nyanja people.

Whenever the Nyau performs with the mask, women and children run away into their houses because they are considered fierce representing male knowledge.

There are men that wear the masks and are considered as the spirits of the dead. And understandably as spirits, the masquerades may act with impunity and allegedly there have been attacks and deaths during performances in the past. But due to westernization, the activities of the Nyau has reduced.

This Nyau tradition is very old and dates as far back as the 17th century and their belief includes communication with the dead. And they also believe that God is present in every life form. They believe that God is both male and female. The male god is in the sky and the female is on earth.

Read also: Ancient village that predates pharaohs discovered in Egypt

The initiation of men into the secret society starts with the men living in a wooded grove where dead people have been buried in the past. They scare people who try to interview them by saying in their native tongue ‘you are now playing with fire you will get burnt’.

Typically, the Nyau perform their masked dances during burial ceremonies, memorials or during their initiations.

Girls are also initiated into this society, for them, it is called Chinamwali.

During the dance, each person represents the mask of the animals which they wear. There is a hierarchy in the different forms of structures worn and the wilder the animal the fiercer their performance.

Culture

Former Miss Malawi barred from hand over ceremony over improper dressing

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Former Miss Malawi, Tionge Munthali, was on Saturday, barred from a ceremony where she was supposed to hand over her crown to the new winner, Jessica Jescar Mponda, due to her mode of dressing which was seen by organisers as improper.

According to Malawi24, the unending drama surrounding the Miss Malawi Beauty Pageant which saw some of the organisers indicted on sexual harassment allegations, took a different dimension when the former crown holder was barred from the stage for being inappropriately dressed.

“There was a lot going behind the scenes. They ditched tradition all together. Tionge was there and ready to pass on the crown,” the influential platform wrote.

“Our source said that the organisers said her dress was not modest enough to appear before the First Lady who was the Special Guest.

“There was a lot of control because the event had the Malawi First Lady, Monica Chakwera, was the main guest. State house had much to say,” the platform added.

“A photo of the former Queen has been trending on the Internet showing her in a strapless dress with a split running to the thigh,” it wrote.

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Culture

Egypt discovers Greco-Roman funeral building dating back centuries

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The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has announced the discovery of a massive Greco-Roman massive funeral building in Fayoum Province, south of the capital Cairo, dating back several centuries.

In a statement on Friday, the Ministry said the discovery was made in an Egyptian archaeological mission at the site of Garza Cemetery in Fayoum which started in 2016.

“Several portraits, a statute of Isis-Aphrodite, a combination of the Egyptian Goddess Isis and the Greek Aphrodite, a wooden coffin, human-shaped coffins and papyrus-made records that refer to the social, economic, and religious conditions of the inhabitants of that period, were found inside the building,” the Ministry said.

“The funeral building‘s floor is made of colorful and decorated limestone tiles leading to a narrow street, with remains of four columns found inside the funeral house,” the statement added.

According to history, Garza village which was known as Philadelphia in the Greek era, was established in the third century BC as a central area for a desert reclamation project by King Ptolemy II Philadelphus, also known posthumously as Ptolemy the Great, for securing food resources, according to the statement.

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