04 June 2015

Thanks to gracious manger Trish, cozy Kumbali Country Lodge
was a charming, relaxing base for Lilongwe area explorations.

Narrow little Malawi is the size of Portugal and stretches down the west side of Lake Malawi. It is home to about 17 million people. It is also quite poor and suffers from the litany of problems that sadly beset so much of Africa.

Tourism here usually centers on wildlife reserves and the lake. But after all the Botswana wildlife, I decided to focus instead on Lilongwe, the capital and largest city.

Malawi is one of the world's top exporters of tobacco, its major cash crop.
I explored the massive tobacco auction house in Lilongwe.
This attempted panorama shot only captures about one third of the whole operation.

Big as the auction floor is the storage area for incoming bales (small part above).
My only photo of myself in Malawi; for the record, I really was here in person.
Buyers (right) and chanting auctioneers (gray shirts) rapidly walk down aisles making sales.

At the Lilongwe Wildlife Center, a sanctuary for rescued animals, a throng of friendly, shy, school kids found a visiting American as curious to observe as olive baboons and blue monkeys.

Central markets are always interesting, but Arab souks have always had the most ornate food displays. Produce I've seen in Africa and elsewhere is seldom arrayed in any special way. The Lilongwe market, however, was quite an exception.

In the Lilongwe market, tomatoes rise in pyramids; carrots line up parallel; little dried fish assemble in regiments; and even potatoes form architectural triumphs, not anarchy in crates.

Top left: Either the parliament building or an impressive UFO.
Bottom left: Huge new stadium (under construction).
Right: Hilltop memorial to war dead starting with WWI-involvement via the British.

Hastings Banda, Malawi's first ruler after independence, declared himself
"President for Life" and was quite repressive. When, under pressure, he
finally allowed a multiparty election, he was soundly defeated and banished.
Oddly, he now has this prominent mausoleum and "father of our country" status.

Leisurely afternoon at the Kumbali Cultural Center listening
to this group play, looking at handicrafts, eating lunch, and
talking to some guys whose families fled Mugabe's Zimbabwe.