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September, 2017

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As a change from sunbathing on the shores of Lake Malawi at “Makokola Retreat”:, we opted for a half day trip to Mangochi, one of Malawi’s oldest towns. It was previously known as Fort Johnston after Sir Harry Johnston a British explorer.

We arrived at the Bakili Muluzi Bridge, named after a former president, and built in 2002 with Japanese money. There were lots of crowds, a police road block and as in Zomba, we were told to put our camera away. We drove across the Shire River and continued through the villages of Natagaluka and Chingo before turning around. As it was a Saturday which is obviously a popular day for weddings worldwide, we passed a couple of wedding convoys with the bride and groom sitting on the ledge of the open back window of their limos, waving to everyone.

Back in Mangochi, we stopped at the Queen Victoria Memorial Tower erected in 1901. Next to it was the MV Vipya Memorial which commemorated the 145 passengers and crew lost at sea on 30 July 1946 and the canon from the HMS Gwendolyn which sank the German battleship, Hermann Von Wessman in 1914.

Next stop was the Lake Malawi Museum, where after paying a small entrance fee, a lovely young man took us around the exhibits. There were collections of stuffed butterflies, birds, monitor lizards etc and then stone and iron age artefacts. All were well labelled in English and Chichewa and the young man gave us time to read. There was a replica boat and black and white photographs of iconic ships that had plied Lake Malawi including the MV Chauncy Maples which was launched in 1901 and spent her entire career on the Lake. It is the oldest ship in Africa and has served as a floating hospital and school before acting as a troop ship in World War 1. Unfortunately, the aquarium section had sprung a leak and was needing repairs.

Our final stop was at the Commonwealth War Graves with around 40 graves of those killed in World War 1.

After that we turned around and headed back to our sunbeds to enjoy a cool Green.

Helen Jackson

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