Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Happy Independence Day Malawi

July 6th is Malawi Independence Day. There seem to be a lot of Independence Days these days. I wonder what it is about July?

Anyway, today in 1964, Malawi, then known as Nyasaland, became independent from Britain. Two years later on the same day they became a republic removing the Queen as their head of state.

I have always wanted to go to Malawi. When I was in South Africa many years ago, I met a lot of travellers staying at the various backpackers that San Nakji is quite fond of. Many of these backpackers had crossed Africa from north to south and to a man / woman, they all told me that Malawi was the most beautiful place and more importantly had the friendliest people in Africa. That is quite a claim considering the great people I met in South Africa and Swaziland, so I am very keen on getting there one day.

What do I know about Malawi? Well, it is a small country. According to the CIA fact book it is slightly smaller than Pennsylvania. Is that small? I wouldn’t know, but it does look small on the map. The country is thin and long and follows Lake Malawi, stangely…. It has a population of 11 million or so and it is really poor. I think poverty is relative and as long as you have everything you need and you feel life is good, then you are not really poor. I am sure the Malawi people feel into this category until recently with the AIDS epidemic. Like many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS is destroying this country. 15% of the adult population has HIV or AIDS and I am sure this number is increasing all the time. It is beyond me how this problem could be solved, but as I stated in my previous post, a generous helping of AIDS drugs that people in the ‘West’ take for granted, would be a good start.

Obviously Lake Malawi is a great attraction in this country, but like many African countries animal watching and safaris are also very popular. There is nothing like seeing an animal like a Lion or an Elephant in the wild. It is an experience that everyone should have at least once in their life.

African people, from my experience are so friendly and helpful, and never want anything from you. With Malawi being the friendliest African country, I can only imagine how great the people would be.

If you meet someone from Malawi, it is safest to use English as there are so many different languages used there. The Chewa for ‘How are you?’ is ‘Muli bwanji?’ ‘Hello’ is ‘Moni’ ‘Goodbye’ is either ‘Tsala bwino’ if you are going and ‘Pitani bwino’ if you are staying.

Now as you can see, I don’t really know a lot about Malawi, but it is in the top 10 of places I would like to go… (see next post).

San Nakji for President!

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