BBC World documentary

BBC re-visits Madalitso in Mangochi District:

The small town of Monkey Bay on the banks of Lake Malawi, like so many other small towns and villages throughout southern Africa, is being destroyed by HIV/AIDS. We return to Monkey bay where Joyce Lwanda jumps from class to class struggling to teach an entire primary school on her own. For the children taught by Joyce, head teacher at Kankhande primary School, HIV is both a threat to their lives, and for those lucky enough to avoid the worse affects of the disease it may just take away their best chance at Education. Joyce one of the few teachers that seems to bother to appear at school regularly is HIV positive.

On return to Monkey Bay we also reunite with one of last year’s brightest pupils at Kankhande, Madalitso Mola. Madalitso like so many children in the school is an orphan. One year on, we see how Madalitso’s life has changed, has he too started to show signs of the disease that most likely took his fathers life, is he another one of Africa’s hopefuls lost to HIV?

It discusses the WFP school feeding program and improvements at schools.

If you get a chance to see it, let me know your opinion. I’m sure it will be repeated at various intervals.

I’m viewing BBC World TV on my PC using Zattoo.
The audio lags just a little bit, but the overall quality is good. And it’s live streaming.

Malawi bloggers on Madonna

My Google alert for news on Malawi has never had so many US and European articles as in the past months. All because of Madonna. Topics such as the last General Elections or bad harvests – which have a much bigger impact – were only covered by the usual outlets (BBC World, CNN). I remember searching Malawi forums for news on the election results.

A friend asked how Malawians see Madonna’s recent adoption of a Malawian baby boy. I haven’t heard much. Cos I’m here in Basel. But here’s a summary of Malawi bloggers that referred to the celebrity news:

  • Mike of Hacktivate built the Kumbali Lodge website, where Madonna stayed 😉
  • Alex of posted this excellent caricature of NGOs and their reaction (rough translation: the child needs to return, is that understood?). He helped to keep us informed during the last General Elections by setting up a web server at the Polytechnic and posting news and comments at frequent intervals.
  • and Soyapi uses the Madonna news item to point to Malawian software that you can also “adopt”.

I guess, there’s more out there. And more to come when Madonna goes back. I hope, she’s not in it for the PR only. In my humble opinion being adopted by a rich celebrity doesn’t really mean you’ll have a better life.

But even for Malawi, you can say that blogging technology has made it simpler to read personal thoughts and reports on news items.

Feel free to leave a comment.

BTW, this blog post was again inspired by fresh air.

well-intentioned, but…

stumbled across this well-intentioned attempt to increase the salary of Malawi’s health personnel in Joanne’s blog:

Sometime last year DFID (the British development agency) decided to give money specifically to increase the salaries of nurses and clinicians, the thought being that this would help with retention of health workers. Unfortunately, the government decided that the new salaries bumped everyone into a higher tax bracket and in the end, nurses took home less money.

Chongoni Rock Art Area

The Chongoni Rock Art Area has been added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites:

Situated within a cluster of forested granite hills and covering an area of 126.4 km2, high up the plateau of central Malawi, the area features the richest concentration of rock art in Central Africa on 127 sites. They reflect the comparatively scarce tradition of farmer rock art, as well as paintings by BaTwa hunter-gatherers who inhabited the area from the Late Stone Age. The Chewa agriculturalists, whose ancestors lived in the area from the late Iron Age, practised rock painting until well into the 20th century. The symbols in the rock art, which are strongly associated with women, still have cultural relevance amongst the Chewa, and the sites are actively associated with ceremonies and rituals.

Other World Heritage sites in Malawi: Lake Malawi National Park (which is truly beautiful).

On the Tentative List: Nyika and Mount Mulanje

Source: a work colleague that will not reveal their blog address to me

Mount Mulanje Porters Race

The annual Mount Mulanje Porters Race takes place tomorrow for the 10th time.

The race starts at Likhubula Forest Office and goes up to Chambe Plateau, about 2500m above see level, before proceeding (via the plateau) to Lichenya Plateau and back to Likhubula. Last year’s winner ran this tiring 25km race in 2 hrs and 21 min.

A couple of related links:

  • Mount Mulanje Conservation Trust
  • Apparently this blogger organized the first race.
  • The Nation on this year’s event (link no longer available)

And if you have photos, don’t forget to upload them to the Malawi group at Flickr.

i’m living in a fridge…

Arrived back in Basel. To discover that it’s still winterly cold here. I’m living in a fridge…

I enjoyed my 3 week stay in Blantyre, where I surprisingly still feel at home. As if I never left. Even though much has changed.

My own descriptions of Europe sounded faraway and unreal.

But a visit is always short and has a predefined end, so I really don’t know if this would be different if I moved back.

It was beautifully warm and humid.

The crops are looking good and it looks like there will be a good harvest this year.

I spent a lot of time reading and listening to BBC Africa. And driving the 4WD pick-up around BT.

In true chiperoni tradition, I’ve made some snapshots of stuff I found interesting. And I’ve started uploading them to my Flickr account at:

Such as making guava tree leaf tea to soothe an upset stomach. A doctor we met showed us useful herbs. Growing in our own garden. My mom has invited him for a training. Cos like in any big city, this knowledge is disappearing.

I’m currently reading “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight” by Alexandra Fuller.

Another book that I bought but haven’t started reading yet is “What happens after Mugabe?” by Geoff Hill. That’s an interesting question.

very south

One week vacation in Blantyre. It feels more like a month than a week. A lot has happened since I arrived at Chileka last Saturday.
I even managed to fall ill for a day and a half. I still feel a little bit of nausea. It’s a long time since I have been in Blantyre during the rainy season. It’s extremely beautiful but very humid. So far it has rained every single day. Everything is lusciously green.

Some stuff I’ve been doing:

  • Getting insight into the administration and management of Chombo Children’s Home, an orphanage for abandoned children in Blantyre. Chombo was opened in June 2005 and now has about 25 kids. And there’s a long waiting list. The concept is similar to SOS Kinderdorf and the extended family tradition of Malawi. Malawian “house mothers” takes care of the Chombo children in the traditional Malawian way.
  • I’ve met with local companies and NGOs that have donated food for Chombo children. I also learnt that a WFP feeding program has started providing a meal at all primary schools around Blantyre.
  • I’ve met 2 Social Welfare Officers of Blantyre City and learnt about the community-based approach Blantyre City is pursuing to take care of orphans. Before abandoned children are referred to an orphanage, these officers investigate and find out if there are any relatives who can take care of them. This week a new girl, aged about 9 or 10 years old, moved to Chombo Children’s Home. She was chased from the house where she was staying and slept outside for several nights, before trying to find shelter in another part of town.
  • I’ve installed Ubuntu Linux on laptops for administrative and management purposes at Chombo. And now I’m teaching how to use OpenOffice. Which is fun.

> More about Chombo:

Books I’m reading:

I finished reading “The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith, and now I’ve started “Mukiwa – A White Boy in Africa” by Peter Godwin.

Comments at

I don’t have Internet access from here. So I don’t know if my cron job has published this. I guess that’s something I really would miss if I ever moved here. Broadband Internet Access. ADSL Flat Rate. Google Search for “How to treat distemper in dogs”…. As you know, comments are moderated at Which means it will take a couple of weeks before your comments will display at Unless I find an Internet connection…

yours truly,


Online version of Malawi’s Daily Times

My Google Alert for Malawi now includes articles from the The Daily Times. Looks like another major malawian newspaper has joined The Nation online.

Just noticed that Google still considers its Alerts service as “Beta”… I’ve been using alerts for a quite a while now. In time the definition of a beta release will change with all of these endless betas around.

Watch dogs in Lilongwe

I like this photo from Lilongwe. The gate, Securicor sign and watch dogs are so typical of many residential areas in Malawi.

It reminds me of my regular walks in Nyambadwe with my small dog. A very clever mongrel: If the gate was closed, she’d run up to the gate and bark and provoke the big watch dogs, if the gate was open or if the property had no fencing, she’d quietly walk past.