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  • Remember how in the Ghana episode, I told you that Ghana was like the perfect starting point for beginners interested in visiting Sub-Saharan Africa?

  • Well, Malawi is like the advanced level 10 version.

  • Let's just say: If you come, you might be better off with a shovel and copper wire than a credit card.

  • Everyone I'm your host Barb's. Alright today, we're venturing into uncharted territory.

  • Most of you only know Malawi from being that country that

  • Madonna adopted those kids from? And literally like nothing else.

  • What if I told you Malawi was a place of inventors, innovators, people who take nothing and make something?

  • Now that's quite a prelude, isn't it? First the location. Let's begin...

  • From Malawi, water is actually sometimes more important than land.

  • And here's Why. First of all,

  • Malawi is a narrow landlocked nation located in Southeast Africa surrounded by three other countries

  • as well as Lake Malawi to the northeast. The country is divided into 28 districts

  • which are categorized into three regions: North, Central where the capital Lilongwe resides

  • and Southern. The largest cities after the capital are Blantyre which has an interesting Scottish backstory and Mzuzu.

  • And the country actually has two international airports: Lilongwe International and Chileka International located in Blantyre.

  • Then we get to the famous Lake Malawi. Malawi takes this aptly named Lake very seriously

  • as in, they believe most of it should belong to them as they kind of treat it as such. See these two islands

  • right next to Mozambique: Likomo and Chizu-mulu? Yep, they belong to Malawi even though they lie in Mozambique waters.

  • See the coastline touching Tanzania?

  • Nope! Claimed entirely by Malawi. (lol)

  • It all had to do with the Heligoland treaty in 1890 back in the British Nyasaland days.

  • They assumed ownership of the entire lake after victory against the Germans from occupied Tanzania at the time.

  • A while ago, they issued a license for an oil company in what was Tanzanian claimed waters.

  • Tanzania: Dude, Malawi. Just chill. All right, it's just a lake

  • I think you're being a little over it...

  • Malawi: Oh, yeah yeah, oh okay!

  • YEAH! You have Kilimanjaro, you have Lake Victoria, both you and Mozambique have access to the ocean a stable tourism industry.

  • This Lake is literally named after me, "Lake Malawi". Okay, it should belong to me!

  • LET ME JUST HAVE THIS ONE!!!

  • Otherwise despite the low GDP, surprising Malawi has some decent avenues of land transport.

  • Like the M1 highway that traverses the entire length of the country north to south and most exports go through the

  • Central African railway network that passes through Malawi connecting through Zambia and Mozambique

  • offering them access to the Indian Ocean via the port city of Nacala in Mozambique. Otherwise some places of interest might include:

  • St. Michael and All Angels Church, the Chongoni rock art area, the Lilongwe wildlife trust,

  • the La Cavema art gallery, St. Peter's Cathedral, the way of the Cross Pilgrimage trail,

  • the Kumbali culture village, the Kungoni Centre for culture and art, the Parliament building, the culture and museum center of Karonga,

  • This former Scottish motor ship; Annnd,

  • maybe one of the most iconic and kind of creepy landmarks: The leper tree which has a very dark story behind it as in

  • they would put lepers inside the tree and... yeah just look it up.

  • Sweet and uhh well, hopefully that didn't set the tone for the rest of the video because we got a lot of beautiful things to

  • cover in this next section. Transition slide.

  • In Malawi, it all goes back to that one

  • powerhouse lake that takes up about a quarter of their entire territory.

  • First of all, the country lies almost completely within the Great Rift Valley that we've already studied many times

  • which was formed by the massive tectonic plates grinding against each other, allowing the huge chasm for the lake to be formed.

  • From there the longest river the Shire River flows south to Mozambique and connects to the greater

  • Zambezi, which is like a big deal for trade and export. From there about 75% of land lies on the Central African plateau

  • punctuated with hills and forests and grasslands. In the North you have the Nyika plateau and the rainiest part of Malawi.

  • To the south, you reach the Mulanje Massif and the Zomba plateaus, where you can find the tallest peak Mount Mulanje.

  • Now let's go back to Lake Malawi though.

  • This place is very important to the country as it's not only the third largest lake and second deepest lake in Africa

  • but it holds more species of fish than any other lake in the world. Including over seven hundred species of cichlids.

  • The Chambo fish is usually seen as the most important one though as it's like the main fish used for food amongst the populace,

  • usually eaten with Nsima porridge or Kondowe as staples. Speaking of animals, the national animal is a Thompson's gazelle.

  • You can find nearly every species of endemic sub-saharan mammal species like The Big Five.

  • What are the Big Five?

  • Noah, explain!

  • You got it, buddy!

  • The term Big Five refers to the five species of African animals that are the most sought-after in Safaris for tourists.

  • They are: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and African buffalo.

  • Thanks Noah!

  • Yeah no problem, man!

  • You know what? Actually just finish it off, take the rest of the teleprompter. I'm out of here!

  • You got it, dude! (again!)

  • In addition to fishing, Malawi was one of the first countries in Africa to commercially grow tea and tobacco on a large scale.

  • To this day, they're the largest producer of Burley leaf tobacco, which is lower grade, but high nicotine content tobacco.

  • They're also the only country outside of Denmark to have a brewery for the national beer of Denmark, Carlsberg.

  • It was all because of a foreign minister that visit in 1966 who was like:

  • Foreign minister of Denmark: Happy Independence Day, Malawi!

  • Malawi: Thanks man! Great to have you here.

  • Foreign minister of Denmark: Alright, so what kind of beer do you guys have here?

  • Malawi: We had this Thobwa stuff mixed with fermented maize and millet. Check it out, man. You're gonna love it. You're gonna like it.

  • Foreign minister of Denmark: Oh, wow! (drinking)

  • Malawi: Got a kick, huh?

  • Foreign minister of Denmark: Yeah, no ummm, yeah, I'm gonna show you the good stuff!

  • And that's how that got started.

  • Now here's where things get a little hard to address but still remain factual:

  • Malawi usually ranks in the top five poorest nations in the world by nominal GDP.

  • This year, they just beat out the DRC and the Central African Republic.

  • Less than 20% of rural inhabitants have access to electricity and properly purified drinking water. That however in return has caused Malawi to become a

  • nation of pure innovators that take whatever they can and their surroundings to build off of it.

  • In many schools, they use clay to teach children how to mold shapes.

  • They use grass reeds as brushes to paint with a mixture of sugar and coloured dirt for art class.

  • You got guys like this guy, William Kamkwamba. His family couldn't afford to send him to school

  • so one day, he decided he wanted electricity for his village.

  • He went to the library every day and taught himself how to construct a wind turbine in 2007. Since then,

  • he's become a celebrity, wrote a book and was featured on TED Talks

  • and he's also built more turbines and water pumps for his village and other communities in Malawi.

  • And that my good friends is what an Malawian is like.

  • Let's meet them now, shall we?

  • Malawi is nicknamed "the Warm Heart of Africa" and for a number of reasons

  • but mostly because the people and their hearts. There's just something about them.

  • First of all,

  • The country has about 18 million people that has a third lowest GDP per capita as of 2018.

  • The country is made up of nine main ethnic groups and tribes, the largest being the Chewa, the Yao and the Lomwe.

  • Other groups make up the rest of the population

  • whereas 4% of the population make up other groups and non Africans like Whites and Asians.

  • They use the Malawian Kwacha as their currency,

  • They use a type G British style plug outlet and they drive on the left side of the road.

  • The country has two official languages: English and Chewa or "Chichewa" (also Nyanja).

  • However, English is primarily used as a lingua franca to inter communicate between ethnic groups across the country.

  • Culture wise, as mentioned, there are nine main ethnic groups each bring their own unique flair to the table

  • For example:

  • The largest group, the Chewa have a matrilineal society

  • where inheritance is passed by the mother's line and they have a costume called the Gulewankulu.

  • The Yao people have a unique initiation rite in which the boys participate wearing these weaved head pieces and grass capes.

  • The Ngoni people are related to the Zulus of South Africa,

  • they have a strong warrior past and culture.

  • The Tumbuka people are known for their healing dances or the Tchopa sacrifice dance with three big drums and up to 30 dancers.

  • Each of these are UNESCO heritage recognized and so on...

  • One controversy though would be the fact that for a while,

  • Malawi has been dealing with the problem of child marriage. For a long time the Constitution

  • didn't put an age limit on marriage. In 2017, the president passed an amendment that banned marriage for anyone under 18

  • which is a step forward but only time will tell. Malawi has a high uptake ratio

  • which means that even though about 75% of children get into primary school,

  • only about 10% of those children make it into secondary school and move forward into academic fields.

  • This has forced many Communities to open up childcare centers that kind of act as cheap educational daycares

  • with meal programs and also it helps save off child labor. Nonetheless,

  • They move forward in accomplishing whatever means of progress that they can. For example:

  • Malawi today has the fifth best netball team in the world.

  • They even have a national dance group subsidised by the government the Kwacha cultural group.

  • Every year, they host the lake of stars music festival for three days in September, showcasing various artists

  • Both domestic and international. You know stuff like that. Anyway, history time!

  • We don't have too much time to get into it. But in the quickest way, I can put it:

  • Various Bantu tribes, Maravi Empire, Arabs trade with them, Portuguese come in,

  • Maravi Kingdom falls apart, Slave trade wars, 1824 the Omani Sultanate comes in,

  • They subjugate the people to slavery, the Yao and Ngoni fight a war against each other,

  • David Livingstone comes in and brings Christianity,

  • Reports of how bad the slave trade is and they end it but the British still colonized in 1907, call it Nyasaland,

  • This guy starts a peaceful protest, Malawi becomes independent, This (same) dude becomes president,

  • Everyone likes him so much that in 1971, He becomes president for life then it kind of gets to his head...,

  • 1993, they vote to change their government, a few more presidents even a female one,

  • and here we are today. Some notable people might include:

  • Theresa Kachindamoto, Tony Bird, Issac Chilemba, Malia, Tamika Mkandiawire,

  • Lucinda Fredericks, Jack Mapanje, David Rubadiri, Malcolm Ross and Tsar Leo.

  • Wow, yeah! So much going on and we haven't even finished. Let's move on to the...

  • Malawi is kind of like Southern Africa's coolest little link.

  • They have some kind of relation to everyone that keeps the bond strong.

  • For one, outside of Africa, India was always a close friend immediately after independence.

  • Many government officials have gotten their degrees from India

  • and today, they make the third largest trading partner. The UK of course still keeps close ties even after independence.

  • Interestingly enough, Scotland specifically has a closed place in their hearts, especially due to the whole David Livingstone thing.

  • He played an important role in their history. Blantyre was named after his birthplace

  • and to this day, many Malawians live in Scotland. Back inside of Africa,

  • Mozambique is close. They took in lots of Mozambique refugees during the war

  • and they share some same tribes like the Yao and Ngoni. South Africa and Tanzania are also close

  • (despite dispute over the lake with Tanzania).

  • Both share history as being former British colonies and many Malawians in the North

  • speak Swahili and trade well with Tanzania,

  • Whereas South Africa has a sizable Malawian community and works well in giving aid. When it comes to their best friends

  • however, most Malawians I talked to have said Zambia. They share the closest relatives to the Chewa people and speak a similar language.

  • They love visiting, intermarrying and the former Zambian President, Rupiah Banda was of Malawian descent as well.

  • In conclusion: Malawi is a country that has what I like to call: Beautiful challenges.

  • The land forces them to think and create and that seems to be the Malawian way.

  • A way that makes "a way".

  • Stay tuned. Malaysia, is coming up next...

Remember how in the Ghana episode, I told you that Ghana was like the perfect starting point for beginners interested in visiting Sub-Saharan Africa?