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September, 2017

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Blantyre is Malawi’s oldest city and commercial capital. It appeared to be much busier and livelier than the actual capital, “Lilongwe.”:

As we drove through the city, we passed numerous sights including the Independence Arch, Museum of Malawi, Sports Club, Queen Victoria Memorial Hall and drove to Mandala House which is Malawi’s oldest standing building and was constructed with grass, mud and bricks in 1882. It was established by the African Lakes Corporation (ALC) which was firstly managed by two Scottish brothers, John and Frederick Moir. The beautiful grounds had a large flowering purple Jacaranda tree and an old tree trunk painted with colourful butterflies. The building, now the home of the La Caverna Art Gallery, had an interesting display of local art, sculptures and crafts. There was also a couple of rooms devoted to the history of the house and residents with black and white photographs and extracts from newspapers.

Upstairs is the home of the Society of Malawi, Historical and Scientific, said to have the country’s most extensive collection of books on Africa and Malawi. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stop to peruse the collection or for coffee in the café with its enticing looking tables in dappled shade.

St. Michaels and All Angels church, was a magnificent affair constructed between 1888 and 1891 using 82 different shapes and styles of bricks and, according to our guide Everlasting, had been designed on the hoof. Fortunately, it was being cleaned so we were able to see inside. We were told the church proved too small and so a ‘multi-purpose church hall’ had been built nearby in 2006.

The only other ‘attraction’ noted in our guide book was the Carlsberg Brewery Tour: Carlsberg is the most popular beer in Malawi and enjoys a near-total monopoly and a bottle of it is known simply as a Green after the colour of the label. Unfortunately, it’s only once a week on a Wednesday and you’ve guessed, we were there at the weekend.

Helen Jackson

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