Bravo Malawi! The Warm Heart of Africa
|Malawian tea picker Photo courtesy|
Despite the fact that Africa is often left out in competitions especially those that do not touch on athletics or football, we have some countries that can carry our flag and make us proud.
The recent search for the happiest place on the planet by Lonely Travel Guide, came with something interesting and surprising. In this search, the Canadian city of Montreal topped the list of 10 happiest places on the planet followed by Texas a self-proclaimed a city without a frown in US. Other giants with all, big names, economies pomposity and what not such as New York, Rio de Janeiro, London, Paris you name it were surveyed but did not make it to the top.
Who thought: a poor country like Malawi would feature high in the first place? Believe it or not, Malawi, despite being dirt-poor, made it and found herself among the top ten thanks to her welcoming people and green scenery almost everywhere. This tells us how environmental protection pays more dividends than we tend to think. But is it possible without a good and understanding government?
Another thing to note, generosity does, so too, pay. On this, Lonely Travel Guide had this to say: "If it's grins you're after - big, unabashed ones - head to Malawi, dubbed the 'warm heart of Africa'. The country's people are renowned for the effusive welcome they give travellers, despite living in one of the poorest nations."
LTG did not end there. It added: "From the woodcarving markets of capital Lilongwe to the sandy shores of Lake Malawi and the elephant-grazed bush of Liwonde National Park, youll be accosted with smiles at every turn."
Though this maybe brushed aside by detractors, the thing is, it is a challenge-cum-lesson to other African countries with vibrant tourism like Tanzania, Kenya and even Uganda. While we struggle to advertise and convince tourists to come to our countries, other countries have a different way of doing it. Currently, our image is not good thanks to some criminal incidents involving tourists. Refer to shootings of Americans in Kenya, robbery-related occasions in Tanzania, corruption, time wasting at our airports and other points of entry not to mention unstable services such as water, electricity and transport for some countries.
We spend a lot of money advertising our attractions. Tanzania recently spent controversial amounts on CNN. In lieu of wasting this money we badly need, we need to spend it educating our people on the importance of tourism to our wellbeing. We should let them know that their behaviour individually and as a society is an asset shall we need to boost our tourism.
Our governments should embark on the rule of law and true fight against poverty and graft. Our people don't get it when they are told our economy depends on tourism among others. How can they whilst they are left out to suffer and die in miserable poverty whilst the cabal of a few individuals with power is living in opulence? How can they get it when it comes to conserve environment whilst the governments are not putting sound and practicable policy in place for this?
What's more, those attacking tourists or asking bribes or delaying them so as to be given some money may think they are making a killing. Importantly, we need to understand. Being poor does not warrant you to be involved in crime. Malawi is among the dirt-poor countries on earth but her people are generous and trustworthy, something that is missing in East Africa. Whilst it is a boo for us, Malawi is all cheers when one visits the country. Borrow a leaf.
Generosity and security are surer impetus in attracting tourists than adverts. Human beings are like satellites. Wherever they go, they report whatever treatments they were accorded.
Bravo and kudos to Malawi the warm heart of Africa! You have proved to truly be the warm heart of Africa. Don't let your mojo be broken or tarnished. Keep it up!
By Nkwazi Mhango
Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He is a Journalist, Teacher, Human Rights activist and member of the Writers' Association of New Foundland and Labrador (WANL)
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