I’ve now been in Blantyre for nearly a week, and starting to get used to it here. To begin with I found it very strange to be an ethnic minority, and be stared at wherever we go. Saying this though, I’m surprised to see as many white folk as there are. You have the absurd feeling of wanting to say ‘hello’ when you see them. It was like when we had our VW camper van, and if you see another one you’d beep and wave at each other.
While we’ve been here, there’s been a lot of discussion about the presidential election that was held here just before we arrived. There have been problems getting the results agreed, and a lot of people were getting very angry. After riots and a death in a town further north, a new president was declared at midnight two nights ago to big celebrations.
This was lucky for us, as everyone had calmed down and happy the next morning when we were scheduled to visit one of the poorer areas of Blantyre to teach some workshops. Mary, our contact, told us that she wouldn’t have let us go to that area if the mood hadn’t lifted because it would have been too dangerous. It's something I hadn't even thought about. We’d spent the day shopping and photographing in the city centre and were blissfully unaware of any underlying tensions at all.
One of the weirdest things here is simply that the sun goes down at 5:30pm. I know that this shouldn’t be so strange, and it took me a few days to realise why I was getting so freaked out by it.
I realised that when we have a lovely sunny day in Britain, it will last well into the evening, and everyone will sit outside, go for a walk, and do fun things after work to enjoy the cool of the evening sun. When it's dark by 6pm on a beautiful warm sunny day, it feels very strange indeed.