Mbakaya is a 2013 graduate of Africa University. He was an excellent MPH student, and is now the equivalent of Vice-Chancellor of a Nursing College in Malawi. When he learned that I would be in Malawi this week, he drove six hours to visit, leaving early Saturday morning to arrive in Lilongwe by 9:30 a.m. Victor, an alumnus with a Master’s from AU’s Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance, also arrived early Saturday morning by bus from Uganda, where he’s been involved in helping to resolve some church issues. Mercy, our hostess, is also an AU graduate nurse. The four of us had a good time Saturday, renewing AU ties and learning more about each other’s work. Mbakaya is starting a PhD program in Non-Communicable Diseases at a university in Hong Kong in August, while Victor has just been offered a prime staff position in one of Uganda’s universities. I wrote about Mercy’s work with Wandikweza in my previous blog post. Most of all, simply deepening our friendships made it a wonderful day.
Sunday morning Mercy, her two teenage children, and Victor took me to see Lake Malawi. A two-hour drive on good highway brought us to this great Rift Valley lake. It’s the ninth largest lake in the world and second deepest in Africa. With hundreds of miles of coastline and beaches, it’s a prime tourist attraction. We spent the day on a quiet beach, though a number of locals were busily engaged. The beach consisted of a broad expanse of clean sand except for a few rocky outcroppings. We walked the beach and saw a number of fishermen repairing their fishing nets in their dugout boats. One boat brought in a load of fish and we watched as men pulled various sized fish from their nets.
After walking a couple hours, the adults sat in the shade of a thatched roof beach shelter while the teenagers waded and splashed around in the lake. Then we had a delicious fish lunch ordered from the beachside restaurant where we were parked. It was a relaxing but memorable day.