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In the village, the peaceful village

All my experience of Malawi has been in the city. It was to Lilongwe I went in 1999 to live and work. Lilongwe was always the entry and exit point for short visits and between 2013 and 2018 Lilongwe was our home and the city in which we started and raised a family. My time in the village has been limited, but on any journey beyond the city limits you come across villages and trading centres, full of life, sounds and beauty. My first visit to a rural village in Malawi was in 1999 and to the village of Mdika in Dowa District. According to my National Atlas of Malawi, Mdika is south west of Mponela and about 90 minutes from Lilongwe. The road was paved as far as the turn-off at Mponela and then a dirt road the whole way to the centre of the village.

The CCAP church at Mdika (1999)

Mdika now has grown exponentially, but is still a village dependant on tobacco as a cash crop. During my weekend stay I was hosted by Rev Kingston Kalabe and his family. His eldest son, Charles, who was a similar age to me and had trained as a teacher, was working in the local school. Village life was still and quiet. With no electricity there were no loud music machines interrupting the silence of the night. People gravitated to the CCAP church and the bottle store, both providing the necessities of life. Potted throughout were maize mills, always busy as people would come to have their maize kernels ground for flour for the meals of the next number of days. It was a wonderful visit, which I will write further about in a future post.

What I experienced in Mdika is typical throughout Malawi. Even in Kande, without a doubt the place I have spent most of my time, village life ran at a pace dictated by its location and people. Kande, or more accurately the village of Fuka Mapiri, ebbed and flowed with the moving waters of the lake. Fish were caught and sold. Cassava grown in mounds. Dog roaming around searching for their next meal. In the early 2000s, without electricity, in the village you were as far away from anywhere. But the stillness and silence of the night was broken with crowing roosters and the sound of the church bell.

A village house at Kande (2005)

No matter where the village, or how far away from the main road, life revolved around the centre of the village – the church. Be it Presbyterian, Anglican, Baptist or Pentecostal the doors were always opening, a constant reminder of the word of Jesus in Matthew 16:18.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Village life will always be fascinating and so different from the city. It holds to a slower and traditional way of life, but one in which the church is still being built and strengthened.

When there is no building a tree is enough to gather under to worship (1999)

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, and my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. 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

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