Thursday, June 01, 2006

The long road


The blogosphere covers the world. Following my own little mobile blogging experience the other day I found myself wondering how real travelling bloggers coped. I then started to think about the isolated places in the world and the places that I grew up in, such as Lilongwe in Central/East Africa (as beautifully shown above from Google Earth). I grew up in Nairobi in Kenya and then Lilongwe in Malawi before moving back to the UK as a teenager for the 80’s and then finally to my new home of New Zealand a few years ago.

I have fond (but distant) memories of Lilongwe and I often wonder about the friends that I left behind whose names I cannot recall but whose company I remember. I wonder about the gardener whose name I do remember as Friday (I kid you not) and his son, whose name was appropriately Son. I remember that Son had a limp due to Polio and that he was a genius at making fully working and steerable cars out of wire coat hangers. I remember that they were very kind people and lived a peaceful existence in a country, on a continent with so much violence in its past. [edit: Thank you to Mangaliso and Austin for highlighting the peaceful existance of Malawi as The Warm heart of Africa. I have nothing but good memories of the country and its fantastic and friendly people].

Lilongwe House

My mother recently moved to New Zealand to be near me and her grandchildren (and to escape the harsh life that is the UK) and she has boxes of photos. I found the above pictures which were of our house in Lilongwe, area 12 and a road with no name. I think the house was simply called "Lot 1" and was on the corner of a long road that led towards town. I have very happy memories of that house and of birthday parties in the garden. We would go to the Capital Hotel for lunch on Sundays (now the Le Meridien Capital) and the photo of the swimming pool here is exactly as it was despite the over 20 years that have passed. I even remember where we used to sit and the menu of scotch eggs and salad! Our dog, a Great Dane, was called Sloopy and she was crazy.

I wondered if the house was still there and I did a search on Lilongwe and Area 12 and damn if I didn’t stumble into my original question of bloggers around the world and this group. I have posted a link to this entry on one of their sites with some questions.

  1. Is this house still there, sitting proudly on the corner? I expect the hedge has grown and the road is probably more developed but I guess it would be the same;
  2. Who is the woman in the photo below and is she still there? Her name was Tricia Morris and she was married to Alan and they lived down the road about 50 yards and I remember that she had kids about the same age as me and my brother (Sophie and Daniel and one other) and a rabbit that once bit my nipple (a story for another time).


I would dearly love to see a photo of our house today. It would be amazing to know if Friday, Son and his family were still living next to the house and still looking after the lovely garden. One day I’ll go back and explore for myself but that day is a long way off and another 20 years might ruin my chances of ever knowing the answers to these questions.


  1. Wow u must have really lived sometime back. But plse let me correct you on the statemnet that you said " despite its violent past."

    Malawi has been peaceful throught out, maybe if you are talking bout the migration wars of mfecane, or during David Livingstone era of abolition of slave trade but that statemnt seems to suggest that we had a war recently.

    On your request for the foto let me go to that neighbourhood and check if i can spot it.
    Since most of the houses are wall fenced now.

    One Q was it near a police post? Church

  2. I had the same thing to same about 'our violent past'. The Warm Heart of Africa has always had a peaceful coexsistence with it's neighbours and it's citizens have lived in peace and harmony with one another.

  3. Hi Mangaliso,
    Many apologies for my bad english - I should have phrased my comments better. What I should have said was "in a country, on a continent with so much violence in its past". What I was trying to say was that Africa in general had a violent and bloody history stemming back, as you point out, past the abolition of slave trade. Malawi is a peaceful county and thank you Austin, "The Warm Heart of Africa" is such an apt description. I sincerely hope I did not offend you.

    I think that there was a church at the other end of the road, there was certainly a school behind the house that Tricia lived in on the other side of the road as I used to play football there. We'd walk through a maze field to get to it and getten regulary beaten 5-0 by the local boys!

  4. Thanks for the clarification on wat u meant about Malawi.
    Well with the extra details I have narrowed down the search,immediately I get my Digicam and am in that hood I will send a couple of houses fitting that bill.
    So wen do you think you will come to Malawi?
    Give us a shout.

  5. Great, good luck Mangaliso! Large box of fine New Zealand Chocolate and goodies to whoever gets me a picture!