Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Abyss of Zomba plateau, Chingwe's Hole

In the quiet town of Zomba stands a legendary, enormous plateau, known for its splendor. Trees, shrubs, grass and all sorts of flora embrace every inch of it and rivers and streams snake through its beautiful landscape. It is a serene and captivating wonderland, but it wasn’t always a sight of tranquility.

Many years ago, this calm haven was a place of fear and death. What happened on this plateau personified it as a devourer of souls. It had a horrible reputation. This majestic plateau has a cave and legend has it that this cave it bottomless, an abyss into nothingness. Some say it reaches the base of the Rift valley, others give specific depths.

It is said Village chiefs of the surrounding area disposed of their enemies by throwing them down the mouth of the plateau. It was not only enemies of chiefs that met such a hideous fate, but also lepers and people suffering from mental illness. There have also been rumors that political enemies were also silenced this way too.

One can only imagine that others suffered the same. Imagine a tale of love and jealousy, a tale of betrayal and revenge. Or perhaps someone was thrown into the abyss because they saw or heard something the shouldn't have. One of Malawi’s great writers and poets wrote a poem depicting what happened to people.

Glory be to Chingwe’s Hole

Chingwe’s Hole, you devoured the Chief’s prisoners
Once, easy villagers decked in leopard colours
Pounding down their energies and their sight.
You choked minstrel lovers with wild granadilla
Once, rolling under burning flamboyant trees.

Do you remember Frog the carver carving Ebony Beauty?
Do you remember Frog’s pin on Ebony Beauty’s head
That brought Ebony to Life? And when the Chief
Heard of a beauty betrothed to Frog, whose dogs
Beat up the bushes to claim Ebony for the chief?

Even when Fly alarmed Frog of the impending hounds
Who cracked Fly’s bones? Chingwe’s Hole, woodpeckers
Once poised for vermillion strawberries merely
Watched fellow squirrels bundled up in sacks
Alive as your jaws gnawed at their brittle bones.
Chingwe’s Hole, how dare I praise you knowing whose
Marrow still flows in murky Namitembo River below you?
You strangled our details boating your plush dishes,
Dare I glorify your rope and depth epitomizing horror?

Of Chameleons and Gods: Poems by Jack Mpange

One can only imagine what lies beneath. Perhaps there are thousands of bones or items of great value. Whatever the case, the secrets that the victims might have kept have long been taken with them beyond the plains. If you find yourself on the plateau, do you have the courage to gaze through the abyss?