Saturday, March 1, 2014

Of Napolo whirlwinds and ancient Malawi Sapitwa healers

Huge dust whirlwind as it spirals along the ground in Arizona, USA
It’s another long night for a young Malawian woman when she dreams of herself approaching an elevator and before she can enter it to go up many floors, a sudden wind sucks her in like a vacuum cleaner and she finds herself going up really fast.

A vacuum cleaner is a form of technology that pulls air in and the air sucks up dirt, etc. 

Inside, a fan blows air which one can feel and the low pressure air caused by the “air going into the vacuum cleaner draws up small objects which then get trapped in bags, canisters or filters” partly reads
Vacuum cleaner photo from

But before the young woman can make sense of where she’s going, the woman suddenly wakes up and unable to complete her dream.
Such dreams sound like nonsense for the educated and exposed but for some female Sapitwa healers that simple sounding dream explains the four winds of Sapitwa which they call Napolo.
Napolo is a mythical serpent spirit that has never been a “mere mortal being” and believed to live in mountains and lakes. One of the symbols of this mythical creature is the Spiral sea shell locally known as Nkungwa and it’s shape.
Now others in Malawi call the whirlwinds associated with Napolo, kamvuluvulu or namondwe and it usually comes from the north which is above one’s head.
In the ancient African cross the north was for heavy rains, the south for showers, the east all of the light and west all from the darkness.
Apparently there is a place at the turn off to Phalombe somewhere in Mulanje where healers claim the Napolo spirit takes them up to the mythical realm of Sapitwa  in less than five minutes.
It takes some 12 hours or more to walk up to the official Sapitwa of Mulanje Mountain. What is puzzling about some of these female Sapitwa healers is that they are huge and also described as “fat” in Malawi.
Now they claim when the whirlwind comes they hold up their hands up north to maintain their balance as the Great Spirit in their beliefs takes them up to the highest peak of the mountain….where no man goes they stress.
African cross representing  4 mythical Sapitwa winds
This blog has no evidence of this and would not attempt to approach any form of whirlwind as the author of this blog is in the group of people that fears heights and strong winds.
According to online sources, a whirlwind is a “weather phenomenon in which a vortex of wind (a vertically oriented rotating column of air) forms due to instabilities and turbulence created by heating andflow (current) gradients.”

Whirlwinds occur all over the world and in any season with major ones involving powerful storms where when the storms start to spin “they react with other high altitude winds, causing a funnel to spin. A cloud forms over the funnel, making it visible.”

And minor whirlwinds are created when local winds start to spin on the ground. This causes a funnel to form. The funnel moves over the ground, pushed by the winds that first formed it. The funnel picks up materials such as dust or snow as it moves over the ground, thus becoming visible,” partly reads the unofficial Wikipedia.
Internet art clip of blue whirlwind

For some healers spiral sea snails locally known as Nkungwa have the same design as the Napolo winds which is also represented by a serpent spirit. In geometry, a golden spiral is a logarithmic spiral whose growth factor is φ, the golden ratio.

“That is, a golden spiral gets wider (or further from its origin) by a factor of φ for every quarter turn it makes,” further reads the Wikipedia.
Spiral Sea snails from

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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.