Many mountains in Malawi are closely associated with the spirit world and when mentioned or talked about with others stir up feelings of fear and curiosity among many Malawians. Many locals are really superstitious and their beliefs are quite strong. It is at these mountains where shrines in the past were erected. Some shrines were dedicated to ancestors such as past chiefs who were the guardians of the mountains, other were shrine dedicated to other things, things such as rain. At Kungoni cultural centre in Dedza, there are wall paintings depicting rituals praying for rain.
The enormous snake is named Napolo. And when mentioned, quite a lot of people will remember the stories behind it, but the newer generations will probably not know. Napolo was portrayed as a spirit, as a vicious wild animal or as a snake and these terms are used interchangeably. Napolo tends to be seen as a huge subterranean serpent-spirit, associated with water. It was said to dwell in the mountain in a deep sacred pool, at the place of spirits.
And in Phalombe, around Mulanje mountain, in 1991 Napolo was said to have move again. After torrential rain in southern Malawi the people in the neighbouring villages felt like the whole mountain was coming down on them. There was a flash flood and land slide. Boulders cascaded and trees tumbled down with the muddy deluge that completely swept away all the bridges on the Phalombe-Mulanje road and annihilated the region of Phalombe killing hundreds of people.