Ladies and gentlemen, Malawi is one beautiful country with a rich history. Time and time again we hear a lot of interesting events that took place long time ago before many of us were born.
These events made history; they shaped the future of our country. Through books and oral narrative we hear of interesting events that if well stocked can enrich our country in more ways than one.
However the one thing that Malawi is not good at is preserving the places that such interesting and life changing events took place.
Coming to mind is the event that is taking place next weekend at Emperor’s View in Zomba. This place is a very special place in the history of the country.
On this place, a few decades back, the Emperor himself stood and enjoyed the view from the top of Zomba Mountain hence the name The Emperor’s View.
At least we should be thankful that someone was wise enough to mark the place and give it the name Emperor’s View. Other than that the place is a sorry sight. No proper monument to enrich its importance, no ablution rooms for visitors wanting to admire the place, no facilities like a mini library, a shelter and a guide around. In other words, it is a dead place.
The Emperor’s View is not the only important and historical place that is being neglected. We have several special places that are in ruins as we speak. And yet as a country we have leaders who always go on the podium to talk about how Malawi can make millions as a tourism destination. My question is when all those tourists come to Malawi what are they going to see? Lake Malawi? Lake Malawi is not enough to attract all visitors who have different tastes. Have you ever thought that there is a huge number of people who are for historical places? They go to places like Egypt just to admire the pyramids, they go to South Africa to see the late Nelson Mandela’s first home. They go to Zimbabwe just to admire the great ruins. But these tourists go there because the governments and authorities of those countries did the needful to preserve and promote such places.
This is the one aspect that is lacking in our country. We talk and talk about the richness of our history without making sure that we are preserving such places and exploiting them for maximum returns.
What will it take for us as a nation to realise that tourism is not all about lakes and wild animals? What will it take for us a nation to become more ambitious, learn from our neighbouring countries and follow the world trends in as far as preservation of historical places is concerned?
I bet if it wasn’t for the Rastafarian community links with Emperor Haile Selassie, I don’t think there would have been any event recognising the place that this great son of Africa stood on to enjoy the great view from Zomba mountain.
This is food for thought even for the private sector. But then again you will see the ‘authorities claiming ownership once someone shows interest to take over some place that has been neglected for so long!
I know many Malawians who do not do or say anything about our own interesting but neglected places are the first to go and visit late Nelson Mandela’s home in Soweto. We see them flaunting their photos on social media. Pure tourism. But these Malawians will not do such things here in Malawi. You know why? Because as a nation we do not take pride in our historical places. As a result such important places are almost forgotten. How sad!
Malawi should not only be good at admiring simple historic places of other countries but cherish her own. It is possible.
Let us just remember we have The Emperor’s View, Kamuzu View, and Mwala wa Nthunzi among so many other interesting places that are preserved and turned into something more than just a name. n
The author is a guest writer.