The van der Post trail

Found this interesting read at Times Online:
A voyage round my father

A daughter follows her father’s footsteps to Mount Mulanje.

Page three of the article includes travel tips.

Malawi is Africa as it once was, so there are no vast luxurious holiday compounds and few sumptuous lodges to insulate you from the masses.

Here are a couple of links on the book “Venture to the Interior” by Laurens van der Post: 1 2

120 registered nurses leave Malawi per year

Article on the continuing brain drain in the health sector of Malawi.

Some excerpts:

Official figures show around 120 registered nurses have migrated to Britain and the United States alone every year in the last decade with the health ministry unable to even begin to match the wages on offer abroad.

Malawi currently has only 56.4 nurses and two doctors for every 100,000 potential patients.

“We have only 3,000 nurses on register for a population of 12 million (…)”

A junior doctor now earns 450 dollars, while a senior nurse goes home with 300 dollars.

Bush League

Interesting read:

Cy on his Malawi experiences

The contrast between rural and urban areas in Malawi is huge. I remember an article I read (probably The Nation or The Daily Times) during my last stay, on how people in a remote village in the northern region near Rumphi can get reception for their mobile phones if they climb a certain ant hill. There was a photo of a group of people with a solar panel. And somebody was quoted as saying how this is improving communication with family members all over the world.

(BTW, if anybody in Malawi remembers this article and has access to the archives, I’d appreciate a digital copy. Should be an issue in Feb or March 2007… i’m asking for the impossible)

Most People Are Multilingual

Here’s my comment I submitted a couple of minutes ago at Climb to the Stars on Most People Are Multilingual (cos I’m not sure if my comment wasn’t gobbled):

In southern Africa (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, SA) most people are multi-lingual with varying levels of language competency in at least 3 languages.

For example in Malawi, children learn English and Chichewa from the first class onwards. Their mother tongue being Chitumbuka or Chisena or Chilomwe. At secondary school level, nearly all subjects are taught in English.

Windmill builder

Lunch over IP on young Malawi windmill inventor:

William Kamkwamba, a 15-year-old Malawian (…) built a windmill in his rural village based on a picture he saw in a book. He used old bicycle parts, wooden poles, plastic pipes, and an old car battery for energy storage. The windmill now powers four lights and two radios in his home, and he’s working on a larger model to help with irrigation. After he told his story on stage, a number of TED attendees banded together to support him financially to complete high school and go onto university.

See also Soyapi’s blog, another Malawian TED attendee.

And William’s own blog at:

in the summertime


I tried to capture today’s awesomely red fireball of a sunset in Basel. My cameraphone snapshot doesn’t quite do it justice. But heh, that’s one moment in time captured and stored and uploaded and tagged and online.

Stumbled across this blog entry:
We googled you!

And it definitely raises an important discussion point… what will recruiting employers do with all the data they find on a job applicant. has published some interesting travel tips on Malawi. For example, spending vacation on a tea estate in Thyolo:

More visitors to southern Malawi are discovering the delights of staying in one of the colonial ‘managers’ bungalows on the Satemwa Tea Estate with its views of Mount Mulanje in one direction and the Lower Shire Valley in the other. Now, the UK national newspaper, The Independent has ranked Satemwa among the world’s top five ‘tea hotels’. And there’s more good news. Satemwa is now a certified Fair Trade producer – the only one in Southern Africa.

It’s possible for guests to sample a selection of black, green and white (yes, white) teas as they look across the neat tea gardens and try to identify the birds from the hundreds of species that are resident or passing through the area. You prefer coffee? No problem, coffee is also grown here.

The Satemwa Tea Estate is a wonderful place to stay if exploring in the Thyolo and Mount Mulanje area. They have a new and very informative website:

A family favorite is Lujeri Tea Estate at the foot of Mount Mulanje.

Which reminds me that I wanted to write a blog entry on Club Makokola. I’ve uploaded a short film I took on the beach, but for some reason the Flash movie only shows 4 secs. The corresponding Quicktime movie is fine. I tried re-exporting with a shareware tool I found, but it’s too lossy.

Any tips on open source video editing tools are greatly appreciated…
Regarding audio, I found that Audacity is useful.

Malawi bloggers

When I started blogging back in Jan 2003, one of my high flying and lofty ideas was to help cross the digital divide and point to content about Malawi. A goal I haven’t really managed to keep. But from time to time I’ve pointed to various Malawi sites. It’s great to see that the number of fellow Malawi bloggers is increasing.


  • Victor Kaonga, currently based in Sweden, raising an interesting question “Is Malawi really poor?”. Victor is also writing about Malawi at Global Voices Online.
  • Cryton blogging from the UK about his studies and work and how life in GB compares to Malawi. I like the way he interweaves his texts with Chichewa comments. He’s got an interesting theory regarding soap operas. In my opinion the number of drinking holes is equally high in Malawi.
  • And Soyapi visited Yahoo! HQ
  • There’s another interesting blog collecting information about Africa’s connectivity.


Here are a couple of snapshots of wall hangings I saw:



Tribal Textiles, based in South Luangwa, Zambia is making some very nice and original cloth. There’s a shop in Blantyre that has some of their textiles: La Caverna in Mandala House.


Mandala House is one of the oldest buildings in Blantyre, built by the Moir brothers in 1878. The library of the Society of Malawi is located in the first floor of the same building.