Along Lake Malawi, there are many villages which range from quite tumbleweed kind of places to busy villages with lots of commerce, taxi’s and people milling around. Around midday, i look for somewhere to stop and get a role to make my (ahem) favourite lunch of rustic egg mayonnaise sandwiches.
I saw bread being sold in a town and pulled over. One of the shops had a covered area out front, so i went to see if they had any. They had come quite chunky rolls made with really dense bread which they called an ‘Obama’ – one is enough! Along with an orange Fanta, i sat down, tore open the bap and started to rip apart the eggs to cover the role, layering on the thick mayonnaise to seal the deal.
I started to talk to Vincent who was sitting on a bench next to me. Concluding the usual foreplay about where am i going, where have i come from and why am i doing such a trip, we start to talk about some of the issues facing Malawi:
- Sexual health comes up surprisingly often in these conversations. Vincent explained to me about a current campaign to reward men who get circumcised, as it will prevent HIV. I suggested that this would have no benefit beyond the financial reward. Interestingly he mentioned a his understanding that some muslims used this argument to increase their sexual promiscuity, which lead to a rise in HIV within their community.
- Discussing female circumcision, he thought it was still prevalent in the muslim community which makes about 25% of the Malawian population. He was surprised when i told him that in the UK and elsewhere, the term has been rebranded female genital mutilation (FGM) and in the UK is illegal. While travelling in Milawi, there is a clear resurgence of Mosques.
- It was very interesting that all of the Milawian’s i’ve talked to are not looking for a handouts, but opportunities to allow them to help themselves. Vincent was frustrated at the previous government who had some corruption which diverted millions of quatcha into ministerial pockets. He expected that there would be a change of government in the elections which are in the process of being counted. To Vincent, this money could have been used on schemes to support young people get skills and find work. Unlike this mornings conversations,
Vincent was very eloquent, using some beautifully subtle English words in the conversation.