Saturday, January 11, 2014

‘Sapitwa is the original name of Mulanje Mountain’

Took this photo of Mulanje Mountain before it rained
Sapitwa is the original name of the whole Mulanje Mountain says a female Sapitwa healer when asked the name the ancestors of the land gave the mountain.
Malawi is indeed the Warm heart of Africa and within in it so many oral traditions, tales and myths waiting to be written about or documented.
Sapitwa in the vernacular is something like “where no man goes”.  But obviously with time and many centuries later this has changed and the only place for the “where no man goes” legend is Sapitwa Peak.
Some of these women of Sapitwa who have never had a chance to be heard and were not involved during most investigations and research involving the mountain, claim it was also special to their Mang’anja ancestors.  But that ancient history is long gone and can only exist as a history document which should not be erased and verified.
Female traditional healers have a lot of oral stories to tell so this blog is one way of sharing some myths and tales in their oral history through writers.  This blog is not endorsing their beliefs but just telling their story as it is never been told before.
Female Sapitwa healer explaining their hand symbols in detail later
It will also take some time to verify some information they give as factual from some experts before it’s compiled into a book and documentary. Malawi is a beautiful country with a lot of oral history, myths and tales for many writers to tap into.
This blog in an amateur way will ONLY capture the myths and tales of Sapitwa through the words of some healers in their village. Others with funding can expand through their own blogs, research, writings or stories about other myths and tales to enrich the whole thing.
Other media outlets can also do their own research and verify information as so far it has taken this blog 14 years to compile the information currently available before publishing a book about Sapitwa: “Where no man goes…the tales and myths”.
“The Mulanje Massif, also known as Mount Mulanje, is a large monadnock in southern Malawi near the city of Blantyre, rising sharply from the surrounding plains of Chiradzulu, and the tea-growing Mulanje district. It measures approximately 13x16 miles (22x26 kilometres) and has a maximum elevation of 3,002 m at its highest point, Sapitwa Peak.
“Much of the Massif consists of rolling grassland at elevations of 1800-2200 m, intersected by deep forested ravines. It has many individual peaks reaching heights of over 2500 m, including Chambe Peak, the West Face of which is the longest rock climb in Africa,” partly reads the unofficial Wikipedia.
It adds that: “The Massif was formed by the intrusion of magma into the Earth's crust about 130 million years ago. The surrounding rock eroded away over time, leaving behind the erosion-resistant igneous rock of the Mulanje Massif. The first European to report seeing the Massif was David Livingstone in 1859, but archeological investigation reveals evidence of human visits to the Massif from the Stone Age onwards.
The elevation of the mountain is high enough for it to disturb upper level air flow and induce rain clouds to form around it, making it an important source of rain water at the head of almost every river that runs through this part of Malawi.
The forested slopes of the Massif support a sizable timber industry. At one time there was a cableway to transport timber from the edge of the plateau down to theLikhubula Forestry Station, but it fell into disrepair, and currently planks are carried down manually.
The mountain itself is part of the protected Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve. The native Mulanje Cypress (Widdringtonia whytei) has been so heavily logged that it is considered endangered and the park contains the last remaining stands of this tree, as well as a number of other plant and animal species—many of them endemic to the area. Examples include forest butterflies, birds such as the cholo alethe and White-winged Apalis, a dwarf chameleon, geckos, skinks, theSqueaker Frog, and a rare limbless burrowing skink species. The land around the park is threatened by growing population, land use patterns such as forest clearing for farming and firewood, and invasive species such as Mexican Pine andHimalayan Raspberry.
The Massif is popular for hiking and climbing, and has several mountain huts scattered across it which are maintained by the Malawi Mountain Club and the Malawi Forestry Department. Sapitwa peak was first climbed in 1894, and is now the most popular climb on the plateau.”
There is a lot of official and accurate information about Mulanje Mountain online and even some myths, tales and legends about it.   One such legend is about Mulanje Mountain and the ‘Lord of the Rings’ as indicated in this page which is taken from the Mount Mulanje book below:

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Took this picture of children in Milange, Mozambique admiring visiting Malawian children

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. this space.