From the foothills of Lilongwe’s Bunda Mountain, outside the sleepy Mponda Village, I set out for the holy mountain. I’m not alone on this venture into the highest summit, I am accompanied by Prophetess Florence Kamwendo of Thamanda Wisdom International Ministry, Harry Njikho, a prayerful cop and his student friend Peter Chidothi, a mountain regular and adventurer. A pair of porters—boys as young as 10—keep us company. It is 2.30pm.
Soon we scramble up the rough terrain. On our way up, we bump into some faithful trudging down; some are silent, probably meditating on the glory of God; others, weary and hungry, hum their soulful praises.
All around us we notice biblical verses and cobbled on the rocks. 1 Samuel 1: 11 and Deuteronomy 6: 5 are among the numerous verses paved along the way. Inspirational words such as ‘Jesus Is Coming’, ‘Repent: Sin No More’, and ‘Faith’ greet us as we crawl up to ‘The land of Mose wa pa Phiri’, as the place is commonly called.
In almost an hour we hit our destination. I’m immediately blown away by the charm and thrill of the place. Tiny stone houses, nicely built and captivating, are strewn all over. Some houses seem to hug each other. Voices of praise and worship emanate from most of the dwellings.
Now, a stone ‘highway’, artistically made, appears in our sight just past the beacon of the summit. Here it is scribbled: “Mose Akugwira Ntchito Kutsogolo (Moses working ahead).”
I’m hypnotised to meet Mose or, as you like it, Mose wa pa Phiri. Of course, visitors are spellbound by what they see here.
Soon, after about 20 metres, we get into a dome-shaped structure that quickly arrests our eyes. Below it is a verse and a giant inscription ‘Mose’. It strikes me that this is an entrance to Mose’s house, which is just behind the dome. Some worshipers pace to and from, submitting themselves to their Creator. I take a closer look at Mose’s door and I realise it is closed with two jerry cans.
“Is Mose wa pa Phiri around?” I ask a hooded man who appears meditative. Probably he’s in the spiritual realm. His name is Nelson Simwaka, a graphic designer and a regular here, he tells me. He passes for Mose’s disciple.
“No, he’s not here,” Simwaka says. “He descended yesterday for a fellowship in Dzaleka Refugee Camp. He’ll be up here tomorrow or Thursday. He also wants to refill his gas.”
“Gas?” I’m curious.
“Yes. He uses gas for cooking. Any business with him?”
“I wanted to record his story. I am a journalist. Of course, I’m also a worshipper,” I submit to him.
Songs of worship on the edge of the highest rock catches my attention. As a worshippper myself, I’m attracted, and I get closer. A dozen faces bow down in frenzied worship while sunken to the rock. In their midst a woman roars like a lioness, declaring petitions to the Almighty God.
As I pluck my gaze away, I make out Prophetess Kamwendo heading into a tent on the other end of the rock. I follow suit and bend myself so low to usher myself in. Here, I notice weak souls slumping themselves on the ground. I hear Kamwendo demanding how they are in such state, secluded and in misery. One of them, a student at Bunda College, says they are in Esther fasting—the fasting that demands no water from you.
“Some of us have been in here for four days, observing Esther. Others, for even seven days. God is good. In all these days, we have really seen God here. God, really, is on this mountain. And we believe our stories will change once we come down,” he says.
We get out and gather on a rock near Mose’s house. Prophetess Kamwendo bursts into a song of praise and we join in chorus.
Entranced, we leave the place and absorbing the heavenly glory. I feel like staying put and tap more grace from the holy mountain. Down the mountain we painstakingly walk on our knocking, shivering knees but filled with the holiness of God from Bunda Mountain.
But the mission is not over yet, this is just the beginning, we need to hear more about this spiritual place from Moses himself when he comes back to the mountain. We have a date with him.