Malawi is an African country, one of the world’s poorest. The living conditions of the average Malawian are characterised by serious material want, by sickness and death, set against great courage and richness in the social graces.
Malawian culture is typified by both continuity and change. In the villages, people live in their own traditionally African way. Traditional healing, which is at the same time a manifestation of their original spirituality, is widely practised.
Malawi is a peaceful country, where the centre has been able to develop its activities in an untroubled environment.
The climate does not present any obstacles to the proper functioning of the centre.
Malawians have a generally positive attitude to the presence of Europeans in their country.
Among the major problems confronting Malawians are illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, the threat of famine in the months before the new harvest each year, a seriously inadequate water supply, poor schooling, and unemployment.
Average life expectancy has plummeted to below 40 and a more than a fifth of all children die before they are five years old. Almost every year there is a food shortage before the harvest, and this leads to stunted development among children, as well as weakening those affected and in some cases hastening death. Water often has to be carried long distances by the women, and this is not always fit for consumption. Effective learning is not easy in classes of from fifty to a hundred or more pupils. The situation is made worse by chronic teacher shortages and the almost total absence of learning materials. For a large majority of the young people who have come through the secondary school system in this unsatisfactory way, there is little prospect of paid employment. To survive, they remain dependant on the meagre proceeds from the family’s agricultural activities and this precarious existence is further compromised by the serious risk of dying at a young age through HIV/AIDS.
Location of Malawi
Malawi lies in a transitional zone between East, Central and Southern Africa. Its neighbours are Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia. The capital is Lilongwe.
Until 1994 Malawi was under the totalitarian leadership of Banda; under his successor, Bakili Muluzi, the North found itself in sometimes bitter opposition to the President’s party, whose power base lay in Central and Southern Malawi. Since 2004 under the President, Bingu wa Muntarika, this geographical polarisation was less marked.
Bingu wa Muntarika died suddenly of a heart attack in 2012.
Mrs Joyce Banda, who had been Vice-President and, before that, a Government Minister.
Mrs Banda is well-respected woman and the hope is that her term will bring stability to the country and revive the country’s economy. All development was stopped put under the previous president because of his bad policies. Any help is now promised and it is expected that the situation in the country will improve.
The national language is Chichewa, with English as the official language. With a population of 10 million, 80% of whom live from subsistence agriculture, Malawi is densely populated. Life expectancy, currently around 40 years, has been falling sharply, largely due to the AIDS epidemic. The most important ethnic groups, almost all of whom have their own language, are the Chewa, Njanja, Lomwe, Yao, Tumbuka, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni and Ngonde. All are Bantu. Christianity is the religion of approximately 65% of the population; this is largely adapted to their own, African, convictions. Islam is practised by about 20%. The Malawian landscape is characterised by great variety, encompassing mountains, plateau areas, Lake Malawi, low plains, and the Shire Valley. There is great variation in the climate due to the significant differences in altitude. Averaging these out, the rainy season can be said to lie between November and March. Temperatures are at their lowest in June and July, and at their hottest in October-November.
Malawi is divided into three regions – Southern, Central and Northern – and 24 districts. The Eva Demaya Centre is established in the Rumphi District of the Northern Region.
The less heavily populated Northern Region differs from the rest of the country in a number of ways – linguistically, politically and economically.
The country’s economic heartland lies in the centre-south, with Blantyre as the most important town. The North has always remained economically less developed for a variety of reasons.
The language of the North is Chitumbuka.
Notable geographical features of the region are the Viphya and the Nyika Plateaus. Lake Malawi is another important element here, as it is for the country as whole.