THE NEW FACE OF AFRIKA
If there is one thing that Afrikans, both ancient and modern, have in common it is the knowledge that names are very powerful and that the meanings of names do have influences on the bearers of such names and that includes people or places. And this is very true, for even the Bible indicates the same. This is made evident in the way God gave or changed the names of many Bible characters. So basically, names are like spiritual brands that tell of a person even before you engage them.
The names of places in Afrika also have deep and powerful meanings, which are often tied to profound spiritual realities and the activities that happened in such places. And these, in turn, almost all the time, define the people in those places. Afrikans are known for carrying names that carry power and I am not talking about those worthless names that the colonialists gave the Afrikan territories that they divided among themselves; names that have no meaning except for their portrayal of the wickedness of the hearts of the givers and for how they sounded in their ears.
Malawi, officially the Republic of Malawi, is a land-linked country in southeast Afrika that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. Malawi is over 118,000 km² with an estimated population of more than 14,900,000. Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi’s largest city; the second largest is Blantyre and the third is Mzuzu. The country is also nicknamed “The Warm Heart of Africa”.
The origin of the name Malawi is a bit uncertain; it was originally attributed to the lake itself: Lake Malawi. However, its origin is believed to be linked to the ancient Kingdom of Maravi which flourished in the area in the 15th century AD; Maravi being an old name of the Nyanja people. In reality, Malawi means ‘Fire flames’, evoking the rising sun scintillating on the waters of the lake. This is clearly illustrated on the country’s flag. However, another online source, says that the origin of the word Malawi is not “a bit uncertain” if you really know the language. In the Nyanja language “kulawa” means to taste. “Lirawi” (plural “malawi”) is that which tastes (i.e. the tongue). Therefore the basic meaning of malawi is “tongues” in old Nyanja. In the language, flames are called “tongues of fire” – that is, ‘malawi a moto’, and in short (nowadays) just malawi.
I am so amazed at the beauty of the original name “kulawa” which means to taste and “Lirawi” (plural “malawi”) and that it means tongues of fire. This for me is highly prophetic and also an indication of the next phase of Afrika as the place of authority found in the tongue and in the declaration and actions of truth.
Prior to doing the research for this article, I had never observed the symbols on the Malawian flag and that they represent the rising sun. It’s so interesting that both the sun and the tongue which Malawi basically means are three major spiritual symbols of authority and life. Life and death is in the power of the tongue, without the sun (Son) there is no life on earth and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit (the Promise of the Father) in the book of Acts was as tongues of fire, indicating the presence and power of God on earth. How amazing are these realities?
The New Malawian President
Very recently, there was a change of administration in Malawi following a re-run of the 2020 presidential elections in which the opposition leader, Lazarus Chakwera, became the new President.
I was glad and equally amazed watching a video where the new President was speaking about his faith and belief in God. It completely blew my mind and I am so encouraged about God’s dealings with Malawi and the entire Afrikan continent. Let me share with you, below, a transcription of what he said in the video:
“My name is Lazarus Chakwera and I come from Malawi. You know, I look at myself and all that I have become, as a result of grace. See, I was born with some kind of impediment. I couldn’t talk to people, if there was three, five people, I just shut down, I wasn’t able to communicate. But God changed my whole life and future, after I had met Him personally, and began to redirect my life toward ministry. I have seen God’s grace, I have preached to five, I have preached to fifty, I have preached to five thousand, I have preached to more than fifty thousand in a large stadium. It’s just taken God’s grace, there’s no way I could have ever dreamed that that was going to be possible. And more recently I had to argue with God over a direction in life that didn’t seem natural to me and this is what led me to where I am now, where I am running for president of Malawi and it was a struggle for me to make that decision. Talked with God a lot, read the scriptures a lot and one day, God spoke to my heart and God was not saying, “I am pulling you out of ministry,” God was saying, “I am extending your ministry so that you are able to pastor a whole nation.” I said, “How is that possible?” And He began to talk to me about how He had chosen Israel to be a nation that would be an example of a relationship between God and His people and God was saying, “I want you to get in, I want you to get involved.” It’s been another point of grace in my life because I never dreamt, not for a day, that I would be running for public office after I had been in ministry all of my life. So to me really, grace is spelt, Jesus. Grace is what the Lord has done in taking and considering a person like myself becoming part of God’s family. I cannot claim or lay claim on any of the good things that have happened to me, that is grace to me because I understand that I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am if it had not been for Jesus. So, grace is Jesus.”
For a non-believer in Christ, this statement by the President of Malawi may not make much sense, but for someone who knows that there is an Afrika that must be emancipated and that, that emancipation is only possible through the grace that comes through alignment with the mind and will of God, it will make sense and also give a clear indication of where Afrika has come to in the overall plan of God for her. A plan which, as the name and flag of Malawi indicates, is for Afrika to be the sunrise that gives life through the authority found in the tongue that speaks life that demonstrates the power of God over Afrika.
I know there are those who think Afrika cannot rise above the usual tendency to fail but you will be surprised about the number of Afrikans that have succeeded in their endeavors and the numbers of those who are rising to take up spaces that were never possible for Afrikans to have before now.
The man himself who made the above statement, that is, President Lazarus Chakwera, still has his human nature and will certainly still make his human errors in decisions, choices and judgment as concerns Malawi. But the statement is not about the man, just as this article on Malawi, is not really about the new president, but about the reality found in God that Malawi will reveal the grace of God found even in human weakness and error. For it is this grace called the Christ, in relationship with Malawi the sunrise of Afrika, that we celebrate and which has the power to give the accurate strength for the actualization of this new reality in Malawi.
Meaning that writing about any nation in this column is not so much about the current reality of that nation, which sometimes does not directly reflect that which we are looking for, but about what we see in hope that can manifest in that nation.
Afrika, the tongue and sunrise of change
I can’t begin to tell you how much the team behind this magazine believes in Afrikan solutions for global problems. It is so clear and strong in our hearts that the Afrika that will change the narrative of the world is here and we are part of it. So we rejoice at every new thing that God is allowing to come up in Afrika.
There are lots of creation stories from various tribes and cultures in Afrika and they are all beautiful, even though they differ in some aspects. But one thing they all have in common is that earth and everything in it was created by the Words of the Creator. And that’s why the Egyptian Medu Neter (Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs) means “Words of God”. The language is not a spoken one but that which uses symbols and images of nature (i.e. creation) as text.
Words and imagery are powerful and can both make or destroy a people’s true reality. There are lots of foreign organizations that continuously run multi-million-dollar advertisement campaigns depicting Afrika as poor, malnourished, corrupt, diseased, terrorists, unsafe etc., but which are not true. But why do they do it? They understand that he who creates the image creates the accepted norm about whatever they are trying to project through the image. And by doing this, Afrika is depicted as a continent dependent on charity and aid, which in turn brings all manner of foreign charity organizations to Afrika, which are also nothing but cartels through which Afrika’s natural resources are stolen.
Now, all I am saying with this article is this, all the nations in Afrika, just like Malawi, have names, purposes and destinies which define who they really are outside of what the global “evil men” want it to be for their own selfish gain. And because there is power and authority in the tongue to create new realities just like sun rise creates a new day in the morning, Afrikans must now begin to deliberately create their own image of a true and healthy Afrika, outside of that poor and malnourished box that we have been placed in for decades. That what God voiced over Afrika at the beginning would be made evident for all to see.
If you are paying attention, you will notice that fresh attention is being paid to Afrika right now globally and more Afrikans are beginning to lend their voices to the fight for the emancipation of Afrika. The sunrise and the tongue of Afrika can no longer be hidden or silenced, but the question is, are you as an Afrikan ready to lend your voice to the struggle and also shine your light?
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Samuel Phillips is a writer, graphic designer, photographer, songwriter, singer and a lover of God. As an Afrikan content creator, he is passionate about creating a better image and positive narrative about Afrika and Afrikans. He is a true Afrikan who believes that the true potential of Afrika and Afrikans can manifest through God and accurate collaborations between Afrikans. Afrika is the land of kings, emperors, original wisdom, ancient civilizations, great men and women and not some road-side-aid-begging poor third world continent that the world finds joy in undermining.