Mhairi’s recent visit encouraged us to take a day trip down into the Lower Shire to visit the Majete Wildlife Reserve. It was a wonderful opportunity to see the countryside in the wild state of thick bush that Livingstone would have experienced on his first trip up the Shire when the ‘Kapichira Falls‘ – that now lie within the park – forced him and his party out of their boats to continue their epic journey on foot. Continue reading
If you have access to the BBC iPlayer I can recommend you watch this TV programme before it disappears.
Not only does it give a relatively balanced presentation of Livingstone’s life, and touch on the early history of Malawi, but the film of the Malawi countryside and people is wonderful and really captures the reality for us on the ground here.
What images will persist, I wonder, for Ruth and I as we leave Malawi and Africa? For sure there will be images of rolling seas of tea bushes, of bright lilac colored jacaranda trees, of vast planes of dusty bush, of proud exotic animals, of litter strewn slums, of mud floors and tin roofs.
However I am convinced that the truly persistent images of Malawi and of Africa will be of the faithful brothers and sisters we leave behind. Compared to our homeland we found friends materially poor, struggling with a lack of education, and adrift for the want of more of Christ’s shepherds. But we also found friends with faces shining with the love of Jesus, humble homes thrown open in wonderful hospitality, and lives where the little they did have was completely dedicated to the growth of God’s kingdom.
I got my history fix early in our visit to Malawi when we visited the gallery, museum and cafe within Mandala House, the oldest standing house in Malawi.
David Livingstone was the ultimate “Jack-of-all-trades” whose contribution to Africa’s development covered aspects as wide as missionary, linguist, explorer, anti-slavery advocate, anti-apartheid advocate, physician, and zoologist. However he was also a great promoter of commerce as a way of helping improve the life of the indigenous people whom he loved. One response to this was the formation of the Africa Lakes Company, headquartered in Glasgow. They traded under the name Mandala, and Mandala house was built in 1882 on a strategic hilltop in Blantyre to act as their trading centre and a strong defensive location for settlers during the intermittent inter-tribe conflicts.
2nd September 2013
We Scots usually think of the “auld alliance” being the one between Scotland and France to contain the expansionist plans of mediaeval England. However there is another “auld alliance” between Scotland and Malawi that is already making me feel very at home here in Blantyre.
Ruth and I arrived in Lilongwe International Airport too late to catch our noon bus to Blantyre (a four hour journey) and instead killed a few hours absorbing the new atmosphere of Malawi. Initial impressions were: less litter, less threatening, less people, less colourful clothing, more heat!