Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Mysterious Sapitwa Peak
Some 80 km from the commercial city Blantyre, the highest peak of Malawi’s Mount Mulanje mountain, Sapitwa with a elevation of 3,002 metres is one that still puzzles locals with stories of people vanishing into thin air and tales of “angry spirits.”
These include Dutch Linda Pronk in 2003 and the tragic discovery of the body of Gabriel Buchmann, a Brazilian who went up the mountain without a tourist guide when it suddenly became ice cold.
Sapitwa is full of myths and beliefs it is home to ancestral spirits and a powerful “royal” family. Locals including traditional healers known as asing’anga amizimu believe spirits wrap targets in a white cloth and they somehow vanish and are “only released when the spirits allow.”
There are also stories of villagers mysteriously finding bananas and well-prepared food with strict rules when eaten.
However there are many scientific explanations to some of the disappearances including getting lost, falling into a ditch and being eaten by animals.
Much of the Massif consists of deep forested ravines and many individual peaks reaching 2500 metres including Chambe Peak, known as the West Face and longest rock climb in Africa.
The first European to report seeing the Massif was David Livingstone in 1859, but archaeological investigation reveals evidence of human visits to the Massif from the Stone Age onwards.
According to Hasting Maloya responsible for Environmental Education, Awareness and Communications for Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) it is historically recorded that Mulanje Mountain and its forest reserve was once home to the first Malawian settlers.
“Recorded history indicates that the inhabitants in the mountains were dwarf people locally known as Amwandionerapati or Abathwa. It is said that they were a people with diminutive height who lived on hunting. The name Abathwa purely meant short people. However, it is said that the said people never liked being called or referred to as being short.”
Menno Welling, Dean in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Catholic University of Malawi who happens to be an archaeologist
in 2008 discovered tools from the Iron age and made an interesting Rain Shrine discovery at Dziwe la Nkhalamba,(swimming pool for the elderly).
For many years Malawians had believed it is a graveyard or place where “witches” and “wizards” play. Welling uprooted beautiful clay pots and beads in the area proving a rain ritual.
Villagers also tell tales of elderly people and clothes being found at the pool many years ago with sighting an old man with white hair being considered good luck. These days people don’t believe such things and the pool is a major tourist attraction with many swimming there.
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.
.....watch this space.