Wednesday, 16 August 2017

A Brief Histroy of Malawi

Hey guys its Alice here. Outside of this project my main interest is in history and archaeology and that’s what I’m going to be studying at university next year. Since I came to Malawi a couple of weeks ago I have been thinking a lot about the history of the country and its people so I’ve asked lots of questions and done some research and I present you with “A Brief History of Malawi (but mostly just the bits I find cool).”

Malawi in all its glory!
Let’s start right at the beginning with the forming of Africa. Now I’ll admit science isn’t really my strong point so much of this was explained to me by Cicely and I’m a bit vague on the details but let’s give it a go. Africa was essentially the first continent to form on earth. Continents form when all the hot liquid in the middle of the earth comes up to the surface in little blobs (islands) solidifies and then gets squished together into really big blobs (continents). Because of these islands being squished together we get a lot of mountains on continents that then slowly get eroded away. One of the ways we can see how old Africa is is that it is now very flat, meaning that many of the mountains have had long enough to disappear. Africa isn’t only interesting cause it’s old either. It is also the place where humans are believed to have evolved. Because of this it’s often given the name “Cradle of Humanity”. Evidence of this can be found right here is Malawi; a humanoid jaw bone that is between 2.3 and 2.5 million years old, one of the oldest humanoid remains ever found. Malawi has been populated for a long time then. Possibly because of the stability coming from living by a big old lake that doesn’t look like it’s gonna dry up any time soon. By let’s skip forward a couple of million years and look at some comparatively resent history.

In the 15th century a pretty major empire began to grow in Malawi. It was founded by invaders from the Republic of Congo that arrived, hunted down and killed the other inhabitants. Pretty grim right? These people mostly worked at forges and were called the Marvani which is thought to come from a word meaning flame. Marvani is thought to be where the name Malawi comes from. The Marvani Empire grew and grew until it encompassed all of modern Malawi and parts of Mozambique and Zambia. There was one main dude in charge called the Karonga and there were lots of sub-chiefs who were more like modern day village chiefs with responsibility over a smaller group of people. While this may sound like a decent system, infighting between the sub-chiefs was in fact one of the things that led to the empires downfall in the 18th century. Another factor was the large increase in slave trade (particularly to America and the Caribbean) taking place at that time.

However the biggest factor that led to the Marvani downfall was the arrival of two other groups of people called the Angoni and the Yao. The Angoni arrived because they were fleeing the mighty Zulu empire and they ended up mostly settling in the areas now called Ntchea and Dedza. In a mad coincidence we also have two teams of volunteers placed in these areas. Hi guys if you’re reading!! The Angoni either forced the Marvani to join them or forced them into slavery and in this way took over large sections of the country. Later the Yao arrived from Mozambique and they also claimed large areas of the country for themselves.

This is where my people, the Scots, come into the picture. David Livingston, who I’ve heard a huge amount about since I got here, arrived in Malawi in 1959 with a plan for British colonisation. As has been common throughout history he decided to do this using religion; more specifically the introduction of Christianity. Resistance to Christianity was pretty strong, especially from the Yao who were Muslims, but in the next 20 years or so a large Christian following had been created across Malawi and 1891 British rule was established. From people I’ve spoken to since I got here it seems that the general opinion of Livingston in this country is a good one. This could perhaps be because a large part of his history seems to be left out of textbooks here. When the Yao resisted Christianity it was largely through burning their houses and crops and other forms or cruelty that Livingston and his people managed to convert them. Livingston also spread the idea that the Yao were uncivilised and murderous when they could in fact read, write, use advanced farming methods and very rarely used firearms except to protect other Malawian groups from prosecution.  Sadly this violence and spreading of misinformation does not feel out of place in the history of the British Empire.

Hastings Banda "President for Life"
Luckily for the Malawians the gained independence in 1964 and Hastings Banda became president under their new republican constitution. In 1970 Banda was declared President for Life and I have been told by my host mum that people thought he would live forever. Malawi under the rule of Banda was a very different place than it is now as he enforced strict rules on clothing and haircuts, outlawed certain religions, and censored and edited magazines, movies and even private mail. Despite all of this he is still seen as hero by many Malawians and people were very shocked when he died. In 1993 a multiparty, democratic system was put in place that is still being used today. The current president of Malawi is Peter Mutharika and he is a member of the Democratic Progressive Party.

So, there you have it, A Brief History of Malawi. While I know this topic may not seem directly related to our project I find that understanding the history of a country is very important when it comes to understanding its people and culture. Malawi has a fascinating history and that was only a small taste of it. I’d definitely encourage anyone reading this to do a little research of their own as it really does make up a huge part of everyone living here. Thanks for reading! x

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Topic Tuesday!- Nsima Appreciation Post by David Jimenez


This is David José Jimenez, and today I will be blogging about my love for Malawian food- especially Nsima!

Nsima is a soft, doughy mixture of maize flour and water. Nsima is the essential component to a healthy Malawian meal, as it provides the carbohydrates and vitamins to help the locals get through the day. Not only will I praise its nutritional value, but also the practicality of the form it comes in. Nsima is nice and soft, and due to its simple ingredients, it has the right amount of moisture to warmly fill your stomach. This comes in handy for hot, dry tropical climates. Nsima is the optimum way of consuming carbohydrates and vitamins in comparison to other food options, such as chips and rice (which both use cooking oils during the cooking process.)

Nsima can be mixed with anything; chicken, beef, vegetables and eggs. However, the best mix of all is nsima with mbuzi (chichewa for goat) and masamba (vegetables). The juice of the meat mixes perfectly with the nsima, and leaves the nsima tasting better than anything possible.

Welcome to Team Zombe!

Welcome to Team Zombe!

Muli bwanji to those who are reading! This is the first blog entry from Team Zombe- the first cohort resigning in Zomba, Malawi in partnership with ICS and International Service. We are working with the charity YONECO (Youth, Net and Counselling) who’s main focus is to promote good health, applied human rights and democracy within society. They also aim to empower women, children and young adults into practicing safe sex and preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

So, let’s introduce you to our team…

The team leaders!

I’ve spent the last few years fulfilling my love of travel and culture, by working and backpacking in several different places. Travelling has sparked my interest in International development, and so I was thrilled to get a place on an ICS programme in Malawi. I hope we can contribute in some way while we’re here, and it’s been great working alongside the local community, whose suggestions and advice are invaluable. I’m really enjoying the friendliness of the people, the beautiful nature in Malawi, the dancing and the colourful clothes!


My name is James Samson from Mangochi. I am currently working with International Citizen Service as a team leader for the Zomba cohort. I like the contribution which I am making through International Citizen Service. It has given me an opportunity to challenge myself to change the world. This placement has also exposed me to a couple of friends, most of which are creative and supportive attributes to our project.

Team Zombe!
Top row (left to right)- Austin, David
Middle row (left to right)- Caitlyn, Salome, Lucius, Lydia, Mirriam,,Alice, Cicely, Coach
Bottom row (left to right)- Samson, Liane.

The team!


Hi! My name is Austin Kalimanjiro Junior. I’m 23 years old, and also recently graduated from University in International Relations, concentrating on development studies. I see this International Citizen Service placement as a learning process and a way to help the less privileged.  I really want to complete my masters in development studies, and have a profession in the development field someday. I want to learn and grow as a person and I hope this placement will help me.


My name is Lucius Dam, and I’m 23 years of age. I am Malawian born, specifically in the Southern region. I was born in a family of 9 children and I am the youngest alongside my twin sister. I have a diploma in Sales and Marketing Management and I am currently working with International Citizen Service in Zomba, Malawi.  I believe this placement will help me to develop and improve my skills- personal and work related.


Hi guys! This is Coach Mwakhwawa from Karong- The northern region of Malawi. I am 24 years old, and I currently hold a diploma in Community Development. From Mzuzu Technical College. I am very happy to be on an International Citizen Service placement in Zomba, in collaboration with YONECO. This placement will help me in many ways, for instance to experience new skills and culture though the UK volunteers.


Hello, I am Salome ‘Lomie’ Kadazi, and I am 20 years old. I am a fan of British movies and African Afro beats. I volunteered with International Citizen Service through the influence of my friends, but I have realised that I made the best decision ever! I have experienced many things during the first two weeks, and I can’t wait to help out fellow peers with the voice I have! I also love my UK counterpart Caitlyn, as well as the entire of Team Zombe! Much love J


My name is Mirriam Kapirah, and I am 20 years old from Mzuzu- the Northern region of Malawi. I am the youngest sibling and a graduate from Mzuzu Technical College, where I was studying Community Development. The reason why I joined International Citizen Service is that I wanted to take part in developing my country, and I also want to expand my knowledge on how I can work with people from different countries and cultutes.


My name is David José Jimenez Beltran Gomez Ogively-Brown Esperanza Castiblanco (yes, this is really my name!) I am 18 years old, and the youngest team member. I am the care-free Latino from Tottenham, who loves nsima and is always equipped with a speaker to blast good music (under discretion by certain volunteers.) I’ve just finished sixth form and I am here on a volunteering placement before I go to University. I hope this placement brings happiness and warmth to my character, which will help me grow personally while contributing a change to others. I want to help others while experiencing a new culture, and to also have a temporary escape from the busy city life of London.


So, I’m Lydia (but you can call me Lyd) and I am 20 years old. I am currently going into my third year of biomedical engineering. Right now, the UK feels a world away, but wow Malawi is something else; a lively and at peace place! I can’t help but fall in love with it. Dancing here is my favourite thing to do- apparently I can dance Malawian style so I never miss an opportunity! The kids at the Ndola drop in centre always cheer me up whenever I’m feeling down. Working with such inspiring young people is an incredible experience. Our team is just the best, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet them. I wouldn’t know what to do without them. Even with all the challenges I will have to face, I can tell this is going to be a life changing experience!


Hello, my name is Alice and I am 18 years old. I finished secondary school a year ago, and decided to take a year out to pursue my life long goal of volunteering abroad. With my final summer left before I started university in September, I signed up for International Citizen Service. This was an incredible decision and I am having an amazing time in Zomba, Malawi. I’m constantly learning new things, and I hope while I’m here I can use my skills in drama and public speaking to make a difference in this awesome country. Also, I love cats.


Hi! My name is Cicely, and I’ve just finished my second year at Sheffield University. I decided to participate in International Citizen Service over the summer period. I’m a landscape architecture student, who is interested in how public space can be designed to further social justice. So far, my time in Malawi has been eye opening! Getting past the initial culture shock was a challenge, but I have now settled into my host home and local community.


Greetings! My name is Caitlyn, and I’m 19 years old from good ol’ Yorkshire! I’m currently on a gap year, and I hope to start my TEFL qualification by spending 2018 in China teaching English as a foreign language. I signed up to International Citizen Service to try and gain a wider perspective of different lifestyles and culture (as well as growing up, my mum would argue!) I’m a huge kid at heart, and I have a soft spot for Disney and Star Wars- both which I have relied on as a form of entertainment and a way to de-stress during my placement. I have discovered a lot about myself in such a short period of time, and I hope this continues during my placement. I’m excited to execute my role as the communications lead for this project, even if this involves nagging my team to complete blog deadlines! I’m fortunate enough to work with a great team of diverse people, and I’m looking forward to the many opportunities to arise over the next 8 weeks. My goal I hope to achieve during my time in Zomba, is to teach the locals the ways of the force, and the glory powers of the Yorkshire pudding! (Pardon the Star Wars reference)

We hope you join us on our adventures in Zomba- and we will try to update as often as possible*

*Please mind the internet service in Malawi- it’s as reliable as a chocolate fireman!

Best wishes,

Team Zombe!