Livingstonia – Off the beaten track
No I have not made a spelling mistake – Livingstonia is not the town of Livingstone where Victoria Falls are located in Zambia but a little town hidden in the highlands of Malawi overlooking Lake Malawi.
This is just one the little gems off the beaten track we travel to on our guided self drive expeditions. Most people have never heard of Livingstonia, which is a pity as it is an incredibly beautiful place with a rich history. High up on the escarpment overlooking Lake Malawi it is not an easy location to get to but it is worth the effort. The road is a narrow dirt track winding its way up to the little town; although passable all year round (in the right vehicle) it can be a little tricky in the rain.
Known as “little Scotland”; originally a Mission built in 1894 by the Scottish doctor, clergyman, academic and explorer Dr Robert Laws. However this is not the original Mission. The Free Church of Scotland originally built the Mission near Cape Maclear in 1875. However it was found the area was too malarial so it was moved to Bandawe; after which it was decided to move it to its now location.
The Mission is named after Dr Livingstone as a tribute to his work throughout Central Africa. Most people only know of Dr Livingstone the explorer, but his true passion was the Church and Missions. Dr Livingstone opened up Central Africa to missionaries and initiated education and health care to local communities. He was instrumental in the abolishment of the slave trade and at times a thorn in the side of the British government. Dr Livingstone was very respected and held in high esteem by many African chiefs. It is understandable this place was named in his honour.
Dr Robert Laws shared many of Dr Livingstone’s passions. His dream was to establish not only a Mission but to introduce Malawians to university education, high standard of health care and technical training. He believed university education was essential to develop a self-sufficient Malawian population with well-educated ethical leaders. Although he led the Mission for 52 years and established one of the best schools and colleges in all of Central Africa he was unable to see through his dream for a university. It was not until 2003 that Dr Laws dream became a reality with the establishment of Livingstonia University.
However during Dr Laws time he transformed the Mission into a small town, overseeing the establishment of schools, hospitals, houses, post office and workshops. The David Gordon Memorial Hospital opened in 1911, at the time it was the biggest and most well equipped hospital in Central Africa, today it still serves a catchment of 60,000 people.
While Livingstonia is still today an education hub of Central Africa it is also a living museum and worth at least half a day exploring the little town. The Museum is an obvious first stop, the exhibit tells the story of early European exploration and missionary work in Malawi. There are still original artefacts belonging to Dr Livingstone on display. Near the Museum is the church dating back to 1894, with a stunning stained glass window of Dr Livingstone and his two companions Guze and Juma; nearby is the very English looking secondary school, the post office (now a small bookshop), clock tower, the Khondowe Craft Shop selling carvings and clothing made locally and David Gordon Memorial Hospital.
A full day can be spent wandering around the town and exploring the little shops and historic sites, there is also Manchewe Falls approximately 4kms away which is well worth the walk, a spectacular waterfall 50m high with a cave behind it where local people used to hide from slave traders.
For some locally grown and brewed coffee, light refreshments or hearty lunch head to the Mushroom Farm or Lukwe organic restaurant.
We visit Livingstonia on our Dr Livingstone 4 week and Africa Discovered 8 week guided self drive expeditions. For more information contact Debs firstname.lastname@example.org or peruse our website www.africaexpeditionsupport.com[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]