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From Mvuu Back to Liwonde

A Chat, a Boat Ride, a Boy Killed by a Crocodile, Malawi 18 January 1996
Our eighth day in Malawi, this follows on from A Day at Mvuu Camp. We swap hotelier tales with the proprietors and then return by boat to Liwonde, the boatman is most upset about a boy killed by a crocodile.
Up early, breakfast and pack ready for the boatman due at 10, who arrives at 12. We spend the time talking with Sue and Norman, the proprietors, who get ultra-interested when I give them a picture of Oakdene. Stone-built, old, manicured gardens, that’s what they like. They are smoking South Africans. Sue introduces most sentences with an aggressive-sounding: ‘Look’.
Norman thinks he would like to buy our place and staff it with Malawians, who are he says both hard-working and cheap. Of course he’s never been to Britain.
The camp is leased from someone, presumably the Malawian Government, by African Wilderness Safaris, Sue and Norm were the managers and are now the managers with a ‘shareholding’, which we understand to mean a performance-related profit scheme. The building and the site’ fixtures and fittings were donated by the South African government.
Sue and Norm seem to be attracting income which they are using to develop the place. They have been here for two years. Last year they have only four days when they were completely empty. They aim to be the best in Malawi. They market primarily by letting the ex-pats know they’re there. The ex-pats use the place themselves, but more to the point send their visitors there as it is one of the few decent places to stay (which is essentially how we come to be there). Sue and Norm’s lease is for five years. Norm is clearly looking to the next stage of their life and contemplating mad ideas like importing cardboard coffins. Death is frequent in Malawi, and everyone wants a coffin.
Sue and Norm’s non ex-pat clientele comes from all over the world, mainly people on African Wilderness Safaris, where they stay one or two nights in various places.
The food at Sue and Norm’s is a set dinner and help-yourself lunch of bread and salads. The question for us, from our Oakdene experience, had to be: ‘Do you get many who “can’t eat” this and that?’. ‘No’, said Sue, clearly not seeing it as an issue, simply saying that she was sensitive to vegetarians and those whose religion forbids pork. Well, well, well.
Then the boatman comes and rides us back to Liwonde. He is most anxious to tell us about the incident yesterday where a nine-year-old boy was taken by a crocodile while playing at the water’s edge. They took out the boat and borrowed a fishing net but could not catch the crocodile before it let go of the boy and swam off. They fished the boy out of the water but he had lost too much blood and he died.
Fishermen in dugout canoes continued to wade in the water – some to pick up fish cages from the shallows and empty the silvery little fishes into their dugouts.
The story continues with Liwonde to Zomba.


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