Soon after arriving in Malawi, and getting used to a new environment, the people turned out to be genuinely friendly, smiling, and good-humoured, both among each other, as well as towards foreign visitors. Malawians can often be seen engaged in discussions in the street, with smiling faces. They are a very sociable people, and just saying "hello" is often not enough to greet someone. Malawians often inquire after your well-being, they want to be reaffirmed that you are okay, and are interested in talking to foreigners - almost always, because they are curious about the world and want to learn. The good news is, that Malawians often have a surprising knowledge of English, and communication is normally quite straightforward.
The other good news is, that Malawians only rarely pretend to be friendly in order to sell something - they actually care about their guests. I found the Malawians often open-minded, honest, and often showing off their beautiful teeth while smiling. Walking the streets of a town or village, or just somewhere in the fields, they often would make a detour just to shake hands and inquire about your state of affairs and plans for the rest of the day. While I am usually careful about taking pictures of people after entering a country I have not been to before, in Malawi I soon found out that many people actually love to be on pictures. More often than not, Malawians, especially kids, would fight to be on a picture.
Even on this quite short trip to Malawi, I met some remarkable people. What to think of the guy cycling on a make-shift double-storey bicycle in Mzuzu, who was all smiles when he saw me taking pictures? Women on the Ilala ferry who were very pleased to pose for the camera, and dragged a boy into the frame as well? School kids who curiously looked at that strange black machine, and got all elated when they saw the results? The girl carrying a small bag on her head? Kids on the beach of Likoma performing a show for the photographer? Boys following me, and looking at me picking up mangoes under a tree, after which they offered in a soft voice, to climb the tree and pick better ones. But I also met a different brand of people: a guy on a matola in the north, who was drunk and almost harassing me. In general, many men appeared to be drinking from the shampoo-like small pocket-size bags with rum. Women never seem to drink, but seem to be working hard. On Chizumulu Island, there was a colourful and contagious dance festival where women were dancing under a giant mango tree. Malawi - the country itself is beautiful, with its mountains, the lake, sunsets, and old colonial towns. But its friendly people, cheerful while living under difficult circumstances, leave the real impression.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Malawian people (Malawi). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Malawian people. Read more about this site.