During a recent trip to South Africa, I decided to get a little adventurous one Sunday morning. I phoned the session clerk of a CCAP congregation and asked for directions to his church because I wanted to attend a service there. He told me that from Kempton Park, where my hotel was located, I needed to take two mini-buses to get to Katlehlong, which is where the church was. The first minibus would take me to Germiston, where I would board another one to Katlehlong.
The receptionist at the hotel gave me the wrong directions to the taxi rank and I ended up at the main train station. There, I was directed how I could get to the taxi rank on Pretoria Road.
Five minutes later I was at the rank and went straight to one of the minibuses and asked the driver if he was going to Germiston. He said he was, and I jumped on.
While waiting for the bus to fill up, an old, white man came along and started to ask for money, saying he had no source of income and yet he was looking after young ones. In Malawi, we have always assumed that beggars are always black people. In the rainbow nation, anything is possible.
I sat with the driver from Kempton Park to Germiston. In South Africa, there are no conductors on minibuses. The person sitting closest to the driver receives the money. People started showering me with money and I quickly had to excuse myself. The driver, thankfully, nominated somebody else to receive the money.
It took about 20 minutes to get to Germiston. Soon after entering the suburban township, I noticed a huge body of water to our right. Somewhere on its ‘shores’ stood a signpost which read “Lake Germiston”. I noticed a number of recreational facilities along the ‘lake’, suggesting that it was a popular resort for recreation. I was surprised that a reservoir the size of Kamuzu Dam could attract so much attention.
Lake Germiston is a non-entity compared to our own Lake Malawi. By comparison, Lake Malawi is a sea. I first visited Lake Malawi when I was 10 years old. One morning, my father bundled us into his Renault 6, my brother and I sitting in the boot, Renault 6 being a hatchback. He drove us from Nkhoma Mission to Salima via Lilongwe. From Lilongwe, we followed a narrow tarmac road that meandered through Dowa District. This narrow strip of tarmac, built during the colonial era to cater for the few vehicles of the British administrators then, could not permit two vehicles to pass each other without leaving the tarmac.
After about three hours of driving, we eventually arrived in Salima town and my dad drove on. Twenty or so minutes later, we were greeted with the view of a breathtaking expanse of blue looking water, which was Lake Malawi. It was indeed a memorable moment for us. We had not seen anything like it before. The blue waters extended to as far as our eyes could reach, appearing to be merging with the equally blue sky in the distant horizon. Splashing sounds of waves beating upon the golden beaches were constantly in the air. We were at a resort called the Grand Beach Hotel. None of us could swim, so the trip turned out to be simply a sightseeing venture, which we cherishingly savoured nonetheless.
A few hours later, we moved to the nearby Fish Eagle Inn. From here we could see the fish eagles go up the sky, take aim, and take a sudden plunge onto the surface of the water to catch their prey with pinpoint precision. What a spectacle it was to watch! The strong wings and the sharp claws of these birds seemed to have been purposely fashioned for this activity by the Creator.
We got back home in the night, exhausted, but totally overwhelmed by the natural beauty of our lake.
Searching within our country, let us learn to recognise and appreciate the many natural wonders that we have.