September -Tourism month in Malawi

Malawi will join fellow United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) member states in commemorating World Tourism Day which falls on September 27 every year under the theme “Tourism for all – promoting universal accessibility”.

All Member states and destinations are being urged to promote accessibility to tourist facilities, attractions and services, transportation systems, information and communication channels for all including people with disabilities, children and the elderly.

Actually, Malawi designated the whole month of September as Tourism month. Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Cliff Chiunda officially launched this year’s tourism month in Mchinji district in the central region of the southern African nation on September 1 but the climax will be commemorating of World Tourism Day with various activities at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in capital city, Lilongwe.

Tourism Chief Director, Elsie Tembo says in a press release that the objective of commemorating the World Tourism Day and Month is to create awareness to the general public about tourism makes to the socio-economic development of the country and also discuss available opportunities and challenges facing the tourism sector.

A number of tourism related activities have been planned during observance of tourism month and some of the activities include local and international musical events, street carnivals and cultural festivals spiced up with traditional dances in various places as well as the famous Lake of Stars Arts Festival at Chintheche in northern region lakeshore district of Nkhata Bay from September 30 to October 2, 2016.

Meanwhile, travellers to Likoma and Chizumulu Islands on Lake Malawi can now board the MV IIala which has resumed operations after she was withdrawn to undergo routine maintenance about a month ago. In her absence people travelled using MV Chilembwe, MV Chambo and smaller boats like MV Lamani and MV Malungo. MV Chilembwe has since been withdrawn for maintenance after hitting a rock on its way to Likoma recently.

MV ILALA AT NKHATA BAY IN LAKE MALAWI

The  MV Ilala

The resumption of operations of MV Ilala is good news to people of Likoma and fun   lovers   who are gearing up for Likoma Festival, Malawi’s only Island festival from October 14 to October 17.

Likoma Festival includes a ship cruise from Monkey Bay to Likoma and from Nkhata Bay to the Island. The MV Ilala which was commissioned in 1951 is the most preferred vessel for the big event which will, among other interesting things, enable visitors sample traditional dances and tour various places including the gigantic St. Peter’s Cathedral of the Anglican Church.

Likoma Festival Ad

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Memories of my visit to the USA

Sitting here, watching Travel television channel in the veranda of my house in the city of Mzuzu in the northern region of Malawi, memories come to me of two years ago today – to be specific 30th July, 2014 – when I arrived in United States of America to cover the US – Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC.

Almost all African leaders attended the summit which US President Barack Obama hosted from 4 to 6 August. The summit which strengthened ties between US and Africa focused on trade, investment and security of African continent. Wow! I was there as one of media crew from Malawi and I just feel honoured that I was among thousands of reporters worldwide covering such a historic event.

It was a memorable trip right after boarding the Ethiopian Airlines from Lilongwe International Airport here in the southern African nation to Addis Ababa in the Ethiopian capital and from there all the way to Dulles Airport in Washington DC.

Together with my colleagues, we enjoyed our stay at Silver Spring, Maryland and really enjoyed Metrorail rides to places like Columbia Heights, Chinatown and Virginia as well as site seeing various places in the streets of Georgetown. I also vividly remember how good it felt crossing the Potomac River.

This was my second visit to the USA. My first trip to the America was in June 2011 and that time my Metrorail rides could start from Shady Grove between Rockville and Gaithersburg all the way to Foggy Bottom – GWU in Georgetown up to Rosslyn in northern Virginia.

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One thing that fascinated me in this great nation is that senior citizens 65 years and older, people with disabilities and customers with a Medicare card ride for half the regular fare. They used a senior or disabled fare card or SmartTrip card on rail or a senior/disabled bus pass loaded on their SmartTrip card on Metro bus. Some just showed their Metro Disability ID or valid Medicare card and a photo ID to pay half the fare.

I am just down the memory lane as I watch my favourite Travel channel on television back in my beautiful country – Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa.

 

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Making northern Malawi alive

After travelling six hours in a packed country commuter bus from Lilongwe Bus terminal in the capital city, all the way to Mzimba and then passing through the winding road inside the Chikangawa Forest, John Kapauka finally reaches Mzuzu, a small city in the northern part of Malawi which at one time was sarcastically called the ‘dead north.’

Malawi’s northern region was scornfully labeled the dead north because of lack of meaningful development despite the part of southern African state being endowed with evergreen forests, wildlife reserves and scenic beaches along the shores of fresh waters of Lake Malawi stretching from Karonga passing through the districts of Rumphi, Nkhata Bay and Likoma Island in the region, then Nkhotakota and Salima districts in the central region all the way to Mangochi district in the southern region.

As he reaches Mzuzu, Kapauka is fascinated by the sparkling silver and blue colours of the Reserve Bank of Malawi branch and cannot help staring a picturesque piece of infrastructure development brought to the northern region in the recent years.

Standing tall, about a kilometre to and from Mzuzu Central Business District (CBD) the five storey building has added beauty to the city which for many years lacked a glimpse of such magnitude.

 

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Reserve Bank of Malawi – Mzuzu Branch. Pic by Frank Nkonde Majaliwa

Even the Malawi leader, President Arthur Peter Mutharika – APM as he is fondly called – agrees that the Mzuzu branch of the Reserve Bank of Malawi has really decorated the green city and wonders how honourable would the city look like if there were at least 10 of such buildings.

He says central bank branch building has transformed the scenery of Mzuzu as the city deserves magnificent buildings just like the ones found in Lilongwe in the centre and the commercial city of Blantyre in the south.

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Beautiful scenery created

President Mutharika says construction of the central bank branch in Mzuzu tells that Malawi is moving forward and that economic development is spreading in all the regions of the country.

“We all know that we cannot build a bank where nothing economic is happening. It is because there is growing economic activities in this region that we can now have a branch of the reserve bank,” APM said during the official opening of the facility recently.

Construction of the branch started in 2010, during the reign of President Bingu wa Mutharika, when the Reserve Bank of Malawi noticed tremendous increase in economic activities in Mzuzu and the entire northern region.

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Reserve Bank of Malawi branch decorating Mzuzu City.  By Frank Nkonde Majaliwa

Sadly, Bingu wa Mutharika who laid the foundation stone died while in office in April 2012 leaving the mantle to his estranged vice Joyce Banda but four years down the line, brother to Bingu wa Mutharika, APM, officially opened the branch.

Perhaps, it is for this reason that APM says the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which he leads and helped to bounce back to power in 2014 is development conscious and he will carry on with DPP development agenda.

“You have heard in the past some people calling the northern region, dead north. I say with my government’s development agenda, the north is very much alive,” he says.

Infrastructure development has been the trademark of the DPP administration, no wonder President Mutharika refuses to call northern Malawi –the dead north.

As he returns to Lilongwe, this time in a luxury coach that takes him about four hours, Kapauka learns that construction of Njakwa Road is underway to ease mobility for travellers to historically important but hard to reach Livingstonia Mission in Rumphi. The construction project seeks to upgrade the 100 kilometre Njakwa – Livingstonia – Chitimba earth road to bitumen standard. Plans are also at very advanced stage for reconstruction of the busy road from Mzuzu to the lake in Nkhata Bay to start.

He also learns that technical bottle necks that stalled construction of the road from Jenda to Edingeni which potentially will increase border trade between Malawians in Mzimba and Zambians at Lundazi in eastern province had been sorted out and second phase of road construction will soon begin.

Looking at facilities like the Reserve Bank of Malawi branch and other projects on the cards including the upgrading of Mzuzu Airport as well as the current bituminizing of all city roads, one can only agree that the northern region is not dead but very much alive.

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Malawi’s largest elephants translocation

Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife in partnership with the African Parks recently started trans-location of 500 elephants from Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve in the southern region to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in the central region of the Southern African nation.

The trans-location exercise earmarking the 500 elephants from Liwonde in Machinga district and Majete in Chikhwawa district started on July 3, 2016 and by third week of the month, a total of 160 elephants were moved to Nkhotakota wildlife Reserve in Nkhotakota, a development that is expected to bring more tourists to the wildlife reserve who will also enjoy the scenic beaches of Lake Malawi in the lake shore district.

African Parks, a private sector player which is in Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Malawi Government says the trans-location of elephants to Nkhotakota is going on smoothly.

The elephants are successfully being captured from Liwonde then transported safely about 450 kilometres by road and released into Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in an exercise which the African Parks told The Nation newspaper is one of the world’s largest and most significant elephant trans-locations.

At least 250 elephants will be moved by end of August this year and another 250 elephants will be moved to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve next year.

African Parks Country Director, Patricio Ndadzela told Malawi News Agency (MANA) the trans-location exercise seeks to relieve pressure from the elephants surplus in Liwonde and Majete and restock Nkhotakota which over 20 years ago had a population of more than 1,500 elephants but recently had less than 100.

“In addition to these elephants, thousands of other animals including the sable, eland, waterbucks, zebras, kudus, and warthogs are being trans-located,” says Ndadzela.

The African Parks manages Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve in partnership with Malawi Government’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife.

Malawi is endowed with a lot of tourist attractions which also include the Nyika National Park, Vwaza Wildlife Reserve and Mzuzu Nature Sanctuary in the north, Kasungu National Park and Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary in the centre, Lengwe National Park, Mwabvi Wildlife Reserve in the south, beautiful mountains like the famous Mulanje Mountain also in the south, Nyika Plateau in the north, Zomba Plateau in the south  and big rivers.

The country also has a  large fresh water body of Lake Malawi stretching from the north to the south and has an aquatic life national park at Cape Maclear in the south, a host of historical places like the gigantic St. Peter’s Cathedral of Anglican Church on Likoma Island in the north and of course its friendly people with diverse but rich cultural backgrounds.

 

 

 

 

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5 Reasons Why Experiences Make You Happier Than Possessions… — seagirll

Ask anyone what their ultimate goal in life is and most people will tell you they want to be happy. Happiness is something we all strive to find. We believe that we will only be happy once we achieve certain things like buying the perfect house, getting married or making a load of money. For […]

via 5 Reasons Why Experiences Make You Happier Than Possessions… — seagirll

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Malawi burns 781 pieces of Ivory

In a  clear demonstration to the world that Malawi does not condone trade in ivory, the Southern African nation has burnt 781 pieces of ivory that were illegally brought into the country but intercepted at one of the check points mounted by the Malawi Revenue Authority in Rumphi, the northern region of the country in 2013.

Malawi Government impounded the elephant tasks from two Kaunda brothers, Patrick and Chancy, as they tried to beat security checks and transport the elephant tasks from neighbouring Tanzania but using Malawi as a transit for the illegal trade. Mzuzu High Court, also in the northern part of the country, convicted culprits and as such the Kaunda brothers were fined K5 million (about $ 7,000) otherwise they should have spent seven years in prison. The court ordered that the ivory should be burned.

However, burning of the elephant tasks was delayed because in September last year, the Tanzanian Government obtained a last minute court order to extend the period to burn the tasks to allow the Eastern African country law enforcers  use the  impounded ivory as part of evidence in similar offences which were in court. Actually, Tanzania wanted the ivory back to the country for that purpose but it was not granted.

On March 2 this year, High Court in Mzuzu made an order directing Government of Malawi to burn the ivory on March 14 at 09.00 hours and government complied by burning the 781 pieces of ivory whose DNA tests showed that the elephants killed were Tanzania and Mozambique.

The burning of the illegal commodity was conducted at Mzuzu Nature Sanctuary in presence of officers from the Malawi Police, the court, Parks and Wildlife, the international observers’ as well local and foreign journalists.

Parks and Wildlife Director, Brighton Kumchedwa told Salome Gangire of Malawi News Agency at the ceremony that burning the ivory signals government’s commitment to deal with the illegal trade of ivory.

As usual, some people questioned the government’s rationale of destroying the impounded ivory instead of selling elsewhere and use the proceeds for national development.

“To be honest with you, this ivory cannot be sold anywhere because there is (international) law that bars the trading of ivory, unless someone goes underground to do black market. Malawi cannot go out on black market to do such illegal business,” he was quoted as saying.

Malawi is a signatory of the convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna which prohibits ivory trade at any level.

Pile of impounded Ivory burning as armed Parks and Wildlife Guards watch closely.Pic by Yohane Chideya

A pile of ivory  set ablaze in Malawi

A pile of impounded ivory pieces burning in Malawi. Pic by Yohane Chideya

Parks and Wildlife officials burn impounded ivory pieces in Malawi. Pic by Yohane Chideya

Loud and clear. No illegal trade as Malawi Government burns impounded ivory. Pic by Yohane Chideya

781 pieces of impounded Ivory burnt in Malawi

A Parks and Wildlife Official setting ablaze a pile of ivory in Malawi. Pic by Yohane Chideya

Loud and clear. No trade in ivory in Malawi

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Strong winds sink Nkhata Bay Jetty in Malawi

Strong north easterly winds on Lake Malawi forced a jetty in Nkhata Bay, Malawi’s popular lake shore tourists’ destination in the northern region, to sink mid January this year but Malawi government through the Ministry of Works says it will re-float the jetty’s pontoon that had its chains broken due to the strong winds.

Following the incident, a team of officials from Malawi Shipping Company, who are the concessionaires of the Nkhata Bay port and the Marine Department, rushed to Nkhata Bay for preliminary investigations to determine what had happened and look at what should be done to correct the situation.

Nkhata Bay Jetty was constructed in 1957 and forms a very important port for passengers travelling on Lake Malawi from Likoma and Chizumulu Islands as well as some parts of Malawi, the peaceful Southern African state also known as the Warm Heart of Africa. For the meantime, ships docking in Nkhata Bay use motor boats to ferry passengers ashore as well as when boarding the ship.

The MV Ilala at Nkhata Bay Jetty before the jetty sunk

MV Ilala at Nkhata Bay Jetty in September last year. Pic by Frank Nkonde Majaliwa

Sunk Nkhata Bay Jetty. Pic by Wisdom Ngwira

Sunk Nkhata Bay Jetty. Picture by Wisdom Ngwira

Sunken Nkhata Bay Jetty. Pic by Wisdom Ngwira

Nkhata Bay jetty sunk by strong north easterly winds. Pic by Wisdom Ngwira

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Sailing Lake Malawi since 1951

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The M.V. Ilala at Nkhata Bay Jetty in Lake Malawi

Did you know that the M.V Ilala has been sailing on Lake Malawi from the 1950’s and is still the most reliable vessel to date? Yes, I mean from 1950’s to 2015 but still going strong. The above picture was captured Monday, September 7 2015.

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Malawi’s Cultural Diversity

Malawi is a country of diverse cultural values. Various tribes have distinct traditions and beliefs which make every Malawian be proud of his or her culture. No culture is deemed superior over the other and probably that is what has made Malawi a peaceful country because despite having different cultural values, traditions and beliefs people live in unity as Malawians.

Tribes like the Ngoni who are mostly found in Mzimba in the northern region, Ntcheu, parts of Mchinji and Dowa and Dedza in the central region and part of Mwanza in the south of the country are known for Ngoma or Ingoma dance while the Chewa who are predominantly found in the central region are known for Gule Wamkulu dance (the masquerades) also known as Nyau in other areas. The Yao tribe mostly located in eastern part and some areas along the shores of Lake Malawi pride themselves in dances like Beni, Manganje and M’bwiza, the Sena people in the Shire Valley enjoy Likhuba dance, the Lhomwe tribe who are predominantly found in the southern region spice every occasion with Tchopa dance. Other tribes like the Tonga and the Ngonde in the north like dancing Malipenga but with very unique presentations.  The list is too long.

The Ngoni of Mzimba perfoming Ingoma dance at Umtheto festival

The Ngoni of Mzimba perfoming Ingoma dance at Umtheto festival

Actually, to sustain their cultural identity, various tribes have formed associations which at a particular month of the year provide platform for the tribal groupings to showcase their traditions and dances. The Ngoni of Mzimba through Mzimba Heritage Association organise the Umthetho festival, the Lhomwe people have Mulakho wa Alhomwe while the Yao are in the process of forming a grouping that will organise Chiwanja Cha Ayao. The Chewa of Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique gather in Nkayika in Zambia for Kulamba ceremony held at the headquarters of Kalonga Gawawundi their King.  The beauty of such gatherings is that people of other tribes are invited and in some cases, participate with their traditional dances.

Speaking when he attended the Ngoni Umthetho festival at the foot of Hora Mountain in Mzimba recently, Malawi President Peter Mutharika asked all cultural groupings to teach Malawians right values that will make Malawi a proud, united and successful nation.

President Mutharika appealed to traditional leaders, custodians of culture and those who teach the way of life to teach all the people to love their country and be proud to be Malawians.

“Let us teach our people to be a people of high integrity. Let us make a nation of highly principled people,” he said.

School children displaying the art of Malipenga dance

School children displaying the art of Malipenga dance

The Ngoni from Central Malawi performing Ngoma dance

The Ngoni from Central Malawi performing Ngoma dance

Ingoma Dance

Ingoma Dance

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Hora Mountain’s Yawning Rock

During my recent visit to Hora Mountain, a Ngoni cultural heritage site in the northern region of Malawi, I could not help gazing at rocks and asking myself for how long has this particular rock been yawning like this.

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