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At the Close of the Day on the Khonde

After a busy, hot day in the warm heart of Africa, dusk was always welcome. As the sun faded into the horizon, the relentless heat of the day dissipated and the cool of the evening settled in. For about 30 minutes before darkness falls, life in Malawi changes and adapts. Rushing home from a long day at the office, the greatest delight before thinking about the evening meal was to sit on the khonde with a cup of tea and watch the world go by. The first house I lived in was in the residential area of Area 12 in Lilongwe. Originally built for junior diplomats and civil servants, it was a safe area that retained some charm of village life. Pedestrians, cyclists and cars making their way past the little hedge on the perimeter of the plot would kick up the brown dust, turning to deep red in the light of the fading sun. Bicycle bells would sound to warn people to step out of the way and car horns cut through the soft rumble of noise alerting gardeners and watchmen that the bwana was home and the gates needed to be opened.

You might think that such a scene would be slow paced and tired, but the energy of dusk and the coolness it brings encourages loud conversations as neighbours greet each other and children chase the shadows for as long as possible before needing to settle for the night. In the moments of what seemed like human silence the anthem of the birds ring out and the warming up of the crickets puncture the close of the day, each one making their presence known. And just before dark, a sudden rush of bats from within the roof of the house as they exit to go on their nightly patrol for food. The city at dusk is both relaxing and invigorating as life picked itself up and savoured the closing moments of the safety of the light before the unknown of the descending darkness.

And it wasn’t just in the city that dusk held its grip on the day. In the countryside the colours changed and the sound of nature grew louder and louder before the sudden silence of night. Out of the city it was always cooler and slower, but no less energetic in conversations recapping the day and the rush to get the final things needed for the evening meal or to secure animals. Seeing the sun set and knowing that another day had passed in Africa brought about thankfulness that once again we had known God’s goodness and protection.

The Bible says a lot about the rising sun, but it also speaks of nightfall and it being a time of reflecting on the Lord’s goodness. Lamentations 3: 22-24 reminds us,

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.” (ESV)

As the sun rises, so it sets. The new mercies known at the start of the day bring forth joy in the night knowing that they will be renewed with the next rising sun. Because of this cycle we know that the Lord provides for our needs – he is our portion. So let’s sing with the writer of Lamentations and say of the Lord: great is your faithfulness.

Monday Malawi Memories recaptures memories from over 20 years in Malawi. Photos won’t be in chronological order and can be on the Lilongwe Letters blog, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also find them using the hashtag #mondaymalawimemories.

Visit my Instagram page to see the collection of photos memories at You can listen to the sounds of Africa on my playlist. Listen and follow links to music streaming services at

Dusk at Satemwa
Dusk at Satema Tea Estate (September 2018)

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