Why Malawi? It’s the Warmth of the heart

What makes this slogan, the warm heart of Africa so successful is its surprising truth. Not that Malawi is geographically quite at the heart of Africa, but that its people epitomise all the gentle, joyful, forgiving and laughter-filed traits of Africans. The people of Malawi are the warmth at the heart.

Malawi is not a wealthy country but there are riches in the people. These are the most polite, patient and friendly folk the visitor is very likely to meet. Their peace loving nature fosters a need to please, and often their personal sensitivity towards a stranger makes them seem almost psychic. As crowd, their sense of humour overcomes our sensitivity and a discomforting moment, like a collapsing chair, is greeted with joyful hilarity. They might have invented retail therapy, since buying and selling is, to them, not so much an economic exchange as an essential social transaction.

Malawi, in fact, seems to straddle time. In rural areas life continues as much as it did centuries ago: the men will hunt perhaps, or fish; women will draw water, hoe the fields, pound grain or cassava into meal, gather indigenous plants for relishes or cure. If there is too little to go around, as is increasingly the case, the men will go in search of work, and come face to face with the other urban and very modern Malawi.

Malawi’s loveliness touches the heart. Landlocked and isolated by rugged terrain, it has a balmy year-round climate and wonderfully fertile and productive land. It once had tall forests of beautiful trees as far as the eye could see, and the lake was a magic pot producing endless quantities of fish and fresh water. Its very isolation afforded some protection. It was a fecund, flourishing little paradise, and in many ways, it still is.

But in the meantime, Malawi remains a mostly undiscovered African jewel. The name is said to refer to “reflected light”. Some feel this means the burning light from the lake, some feel it’s the reflected fire of dawn.

Dawn and dusk do coax magical reflections from the clouds, especially over the gently breathing swell of the lake. Towering meringues of apricot and peach, shot with lilac mother-of-pearl, or molten rivers of volcano red and tongues of orange fire lies across strata of banked cloud, the shifting mirror of water a deepening echo of splendour. In the hazy midday, when the mountains of Mozambique or Tanzania melt into the misty sky and the water fades away, lake, sky, and earth are one seamless continuum, a dreamlike whole. Reality shudders in the heat-haze. Malawi itself seems as ephemeral as reflected light, and how you respond to it reflects yourself.

Text: Tourism Malawi

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