Unlike most foreigners I am acquainted with here in Botswana, I spent my formative years in Malawi and only left as I was reaching my 20s, so I still have a strong connection to my home. I have of course now cultivated a bond with Botswana over the past 8 or so years that I’ve been here. However, I am always aware that I’m an outsider, especially when I’m forced to give blank stares when too much setswana is thrown at me. But even as an outsider, you find your own corner where you fit in and before you know it, the idea of leaving it all behind is somewhat intimidating.
Last year in October, I got a chance to return to Malawi which I left in 2005 and hadn’t seen since. I was of course excited to see what had changed and to catch up with my relatives in person and not via Facebook. I was initially meant to join my parents on the journey to Malawi however due to school commitments I had to leave a week later on my own by bus (Intercape).
The first leg of the journey from Gaborone to Johannesburg was pleasant, long but pleasant nonetheless. The second leg of the journey from Johannesburg to Blantyre was awful! The bus was crowded, had no air conditioner and choking through one of the last few bus rides it could give. The stuffy rectangular vehicle was our domain for two days, one of which was spent travelling through South Africa, a night through Zimbabwe and the next day through northern Mozambique into Malawi. The Mozambique part took longer than it should due to the bad state of the roads.
The border stops were a true test of patience but nothing prepared me for Customs at the Malawian border. While the officials and passengers ambled through negotiations and bribes, I sat on a bench and read a comic hoping we’d be done in an hour or 2. A frustrating 6 hours later we left the border for an hour’s drive into Blantyre city where I reunited with my parents. To say the journey was tiring is putting it mildly. There is a special courage and strength one requires to use public transport to cross borders in Africa.
However the aim of this post is not to whine but to share pictures from my trip, some taken in Malawi, others in Mozambique and some in Zimbabwe.
Mozambique – Tete
My time in Malawi was brief but incredibly busy. Aside from attending a cousins wedding and wedding related events, I caught up with my cousins and ran some errands with my parents.
Malawi – Blantyre
Through the little travelling I have done, I have began to develop a love affair for African cities (though some are not at city status yet). One of those is Harare. I had traveled there in my teen years and remember being mesmerized by it and that fascination has not left me yet. I hope to return and experience it again…when my wallet is stuffed with dollars.
Highlights of my stay in Malawi include hearing my own language around me and simply being able to understand everyone, the weather which is more humid than Botswana and seeing so much green stuff! I’m not sure when I’ll return or if I will at all, that all depends on how the next few years unfold. However, I am happy I left because I am now able to fully appreciate it. It was my whole world back in my youth and leaving it widened my general view of the world and increased my understanding of what being “Malawian” and “African” means.