Malawi is called the warm heart of Africa, named from the friendly and peaceful citizens. We experienced this firsthand when we rode our bike taxis and visited Njobvu Cultural Village.
When I first heard that we would have the opportunity to take a bike taxi, I expected I would be riding in a rickshaw bulled by a bicycle. What we did get though, was an adventure I can only begin to describe. We rode on the back of the bicycles on uneven roads and paths that wove through the bush. Our drivers pedalled past onlooking villagers, waving children, animals, and villages.
When we arrived at Njobvu Cultural Village, we learned how the Peace Corps helped to establish this village to aid in communication between the Malawian people and government and help people learn about the culture in Malawi. After a short tour of the facilities, where one can stay overnight for about $5, they put on a show to teach us about how they live. We listened to a band play music from some guitars and a makeshift drumset, and we watched as people danced to the music. We learned the workings of a marraige proposal and were given a demonstration of grinding corn. We were shocked by a fire eater and informed about the use of witchcraft. We played ball with some children, while others sat on our laps.
This village was so hospitable; I do not question why Malawi is called “the warm heart of Africa.” They also made me look at develping countries in a different way. It is easy to come to a developing country and make suggestions that would make things better. But, we have to remember that our values and background experiences are different. Malawians may not want to live the way that we do. They embrace their rich cultural background, and we should appreciate that. Volunteer trips are not meant to change the way other people live, but rather, help in the ways they feel are most needed. And along the way, we get a chance to learn more about the lifestyles of one another.
Filed under: Kevin