Malawi is rewriting its story with an easily accessible cabinet and its arms are wide open to business. Its cities are charming and people ready to work. Opportunities abound disguised as challenges. I had the privilege to experience Lilongwe’s business side.
Malawi represents the possibility that is Africa. I soaked up the possibilities and look forward to working some magic in Malawi as it makes strides to create an economic environment that is friendly to business.
The right word to describe Lilongwe came to me when I sat with the Zimbabwean ambassador to Malawi, Thandiwe Dumbutshena, at a cocktail function courtesy of the EU High Commissioner. I complimented her on the witty speech she had given the day before and she proudly proclaimed that “I am enchanting, aren’t I?” I was taken aback because she had such great knowledge of herself and it was in fact true – she was enchanting, really enchanting, as she weaved her story and drew you in into her narrative. This enchantment also extends to Lilongwe – it drew me in. I was hopelessly wrapped in her charm.
Service in the city seemed deliberately slow, forcing you to slow down. I drank slower, I chewed slower, I laughed more readily. There is a charming and effortlessness that the Malawians implore you with to ensure that you make an agreement to come back to the heart of Africa.
Where to stay in Lilongwe
The newly built five star President Walmont Hotel is tastefully decorated with African elements and big comfy chairs in the foyer that hug you and entice you to sit for hours on end. The staff are slowly attentive In their own enchanting friendly Malawian charm.
What to eat
Chambo, of course, from Lake Malawi, cooked over a grill either closed or open. Served simply with a lemon slice.
What to drink
Malawi dry gin and tonic has my vote.
For an easy drink (served in no hurry) the Vincent Bar or Mimosa patio area at the Sunbird Capital Hotel is a treat. The Vincent Bar has great ambience with deep buttoned Churchill couches. Mimosa allows you to enjoy the great Lilongwe weather outdoors with a soothing water feature in the beautiful garden.
What to wear
Corporate dress in Malawi is conservative and formal with the women favouring shift dressed, pumps and leather handbags. This is also mixed up with great African print coats. the men are also formal donning suits and ties, accessorised with lapel pins.