In and around Chongoni Forest Reserve in Dedza District one can find numerous rock shelters decorated with mosty white or red paintings. The red schematic paintings are attributed to hunter-gatherers who are refered to as Batwa in oral traditions. White spread-agled designs were part of a centuries old tradition of female initiation rituals. Other white designs date to the nineteenth and early twentieth century and were made by members of the secretive Chewa nyau societies. The Ngoni raids during this time period forced the nyau to retreat to these hide-outs. The rock art may not be as artistically refined as some East or South African paintings, they are highly symbolic and definitely worth a visit if you get the story behind it. We are more than happy to present it to you.
Chongoni has been inscripted on the UNESCO World Heritage List and nyau, or more correctly gule wamkulu is UNESCO recognized intangible cultural heritage.