Monday, 18 June 2012

Sapitwa peak, Malawi's own Bermuda triangle?


For a place literally translated as "a place where people do not go", Sapitwa Peak of Mulanje Mountain is a popular tourist attraction. Sapitwa soaring at (3001m), the highest point in Central Africa is achievable without any technical experience, a worthy goal and totally unresistable to any hiker. The mountain itself is stunning, from the landscape to the views, pools, rivers and waterfalls.

But nothing is complete without a good old myth. It’s the pinch of salt that brings out that flavor of  the expedition. With superstition being rather common in the country; it’s not surprising the mountain has its very own myth. 

Since time immemorial, there have been some beliefs to the effect that ancestral spirits of the people that once lived around Mulanje Mountain are still present.

These spirits are manifested in different ways. For example, the are testimonies to the effect that  people have found already prepared food on the Sapitwa and all one  has to do if faced with such a situation is to just eat the food and never invite friends to help you finish the meal. So, this food could be anything an example could be an enormous pile of bananas. Seriously? Who could possibly finish that by themselves without assistance from a friend? Other examples have been honey and even the local staple having already been prepared. Trust me, when you hear a local from that area tell the story, they will tell it in all seriousness, even chiefs. Whether you believe it or not, this belief is deeply rooted.

Some myths are just strange though, this one is an example. Usually myths are supposed to have a story to it, either there was good and evil, right and wrong, heroes and villains, and something happened to end the way it did. But in this case there are spirits who indirectly ask you to follow instructions or face the consequences. But why? Is there a deeper meaning? A greater purpose maybe? Or is it for just a good laugh? Anyway, I personally if faced in such a scenario would 'probably' eat whatever it is probably of fear of the unknown, only because the myth isn’t really clear why.  Perhaps it is a kind gesture by the spirits? If that's the case would it seem as being rude if you did not eat? Whatever the case, there is a sense that the spirits are always watching.

There has also been mysterious missing of people at the Sapitwa Peak. According to the locals this happens if a person angers the spirits and is disobeying instructions. It is believed that spirits of ancestors of people around the area roam the mountain and snatch people if they are displeased by something. Usually people still refer to the food gesture, whether you don't eat, don't finish or you share it with a friend, perhaps they get offended. So comes the real issue, if someone does go missing does it support the myth? A few people have gone missing, but then what does that mean concerning the myth?

Although the myths cannot be proven scientifically, locals believe them as the idea is deeply rooted in their minds and culture, and because several people have gone missing in the mountain but no bodies have ever been found despite exhaustive searches thus strengthening their belief. But whether it is true or not hasn’t stop me from going there. I’ve been there a couple times, once even in 6th grade. Whether it’s true, or just a myth, just make sure when you're hiking you’re prepared to eat whatever comes your way.

1 comment:

  1. Some traditional healers believe the Sapitwa astral realm if I may call it is home to a spirit king in the form of a serpent believed to cause Napolo landslides when somehow moving from the mountain to water bodies so go other stories.