Thursday, May 17, 2007

"He was a dictator but we had food and prices were affordable"

This is a quote from an article in the Malawi Nation about President Kamuzu Banda the President of Malawi for 27 years from 1961 to 1994. Banda the 'father of the nation' was ousted from power in 94

When we first arrived in 1993 the talk of the country was the referrendum held to decide whether the people wanted a multi party democracy or to retain the one party system under the Malawi Congress Party. Everywhere we went we were greeted by hordes of kids holding up the 2 fingered sign for multiparty. People were so excited, once they had democracy they would be like the West, they would become rich and things would change for the better.

Sadly how wrong they were. They voted for deomcracy and then in 1994 they held the first ever elections in Malawi. They voted in the United Democratic Party (UDF) and their first president was Bakili Mluzi.

Democracy unleashed disent, human rights were everything, and the security system in the country worsened, thiefs were arrested but let out on bail and absconded. Corruption unknown under Banda began to occur and for the next ten years the lives of the people of Malawi worsened.

To read Mzati's full article see here

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Zanzibar Africas first mass tourism destination?

Zanzibar was my second favourite destination on the world.

Claire and I first visited this wonderful island in 1989 on one of our many trips scouring the world for the land to build our dream. It was amazing, untouched, shabby, intriguing and unique. I haven't been to Zanzibar since 1997 and even then it was still amazing, but more 'discovered' .

It was on that trip that I decided that I wouldn't go back to Zanzibar again, preferring to keep my memories pure.

If what 'The Guardian' travel section maybe I was right.
Spice invaders
Everyone who visits Zanzibar - the island with the most poetic name in the world - wants to be the only person there. Trouble is that more and more of us are going, says Ed Vulliamy

Now, Zanzibar is at a different kind of crossroads: "Zanzibar," says Chris McIntyre, an Africa-passionate former VSO worker who runs Expert Africa, "has become our first mass destination. It can go either way from here. If the development is sensitive and careful, it can remain the beautiful place it is. If not, Zanzibar could be a nightmare in 20 years time."

I hope this isn't true but even on 1997 you could see what could happen. Direct flights were beginning, package holidays, Italians planes flying in pasta and tourisist to Italian owned resorts , Honeymooners....

Even then one could see that the evironment and culture would suffer, Zanzibar has only a limited amount of water and the seemingly unregulated building of huge hotels would cause issues and they really don't like women in bikinis!

I remember a great phrase about tourism that I heard in Tanzania. "Tourism can warm your house.......or it can burn your house down"

The UN also issued a report on Zanzibar
Zanzibar - Zanzibar's famed pristine, palm-fringed beaches are threatened by the unchecked disposal of raw sewage, development and deforestation, said officials,,2-11-37_2018732,00.html

One of the reasons we choose Malawi as the denstination for our lodge, is that it was never going to become 'too' popular. It seems a strange reason for starting a tourism business but it was true. We wanted to live in a country and enjoy the culture and not to change it.

Now 15 years later I think that the culture in Malawi has changed. But I am not sure whehter that's down to the fact that Jackie Chan movies and Democracy arrived in Malawi at about the same time we did and Malawi moving from the 1950's to the 90's in about 4 years.

The one thing I am sure of is that we suceeded in our aim and Malawi is not 'too' popular!
By the way my favourite destination was Koh Samet in Thailand in 1988 and my third was Lamu in 1990.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Africa on six wheels - a semester on Safari

This week we received a wonderful book through the post called "Africa on six wheels - a semester on Safari" by Betty Levitov.

Betty is a a professor of English from Douane college in the USA, Every other year Betty takes a trip across Africa with a class of her students from the college. They travel from Kenya all the way to Cape Town in a minibus. Betty has been staying with us since 1995 and is a much loved by all the staff at Njaya!

I think Betty is on her 6th visit to Njaya and her book has a chapter all about Njaya!

Her writing is wonderful and really captures to spirit of the people, She describes Simon our wonderful grandfatherly waiter ;

"If its possible that a person can smile perpertually, Simon,who works at Njaya was the evidence. He is four feet three and the top most inches come from hair, receding from the forehead, greying at the temples, and growing up in all directions from the crown. I coudn't geuess how old he was- 40, 50, 60 depending on whether age or the smile was the origins oh his wrinkles"

She goes on to tell wonderful stories about the place and people, Gilbert, John, Android, Emily, dixon and the rest of the Gang.

Here's a review

“A professional memoir written by a brilliant teacher and a compassionate traveler.”—Hilda Raz, editor of Prairie Schooner and the coauthor of What Becomes You

“I think I get it,” Betty Levitov’s youngest student said, sitting on a porch in Harare, Zimbabwe. “You’ve had a potentially fatal disease, and faced death, and now you’ll do just about anything.” The student was trying to fathom why a teacher would take thirteen kids from a small midwestern liberal arts college on a three-month trek across Africa.

The answer, a learning experience like no other, unfolds in Levitov’s thoroughly engaging account of her life-changing stint as a mwalimu (“teacher” in Swahili) with an Australian bus driver and thirteen college kids from Nebraska in tow. The group’s wanderings take them—and us—through seven countries. Through dhow trips and donkey rides on the Swahili island of Lamu, scuba diving and spice tours in Zanzibar, camping in the Namib Desert, and swimming on the edge of a cataract at Victoria Falls, we encounter remarkable people, new customs, and intriguing arts (along with malaria, flat tires, a bike accident, and a hostage crisis). As the students apprentice themselves to African cooks, fishermen, carvers, and batik artists, we discover with them a subtle and complex connection among people normally worlds apart.

Welcome to the Njaya Lodge Message board

Njaya Lodge is 15 years old this Christmas!

This blog has been set up, partly as a site for all of you that have been to visit us....and there are over 20,000 of you, and partly as a site for information about Nkhata Bay and Northern Malawi in general.

Feel free to ask or comment away!

Paul, Claire and Jordan Norrish