The potholed road to Nkhata Bay on New Year’s Day was literally busy. Vehicles of all size and make raced down from Mzuzu City for a share of fun along the fresh waters of Lake Malawi in the scenic district.
Surprisingly, there was no music performance in the district. No electricity. Just the lake was enough to attract such scores of fun-seekers from the city which is 47 kilometres away.
By 2pm, the lakeside areas of Chikale, Sambani Inn and Chintheche Inn were already flooded with revellers.
Chikale Beach was the hub because it is nearer than the other two venues which are close to 100 kilometres from the green city. The latter venues, however, are ideal for those who love their privacy.
With the majority opting for Chikale, the proprietor tried to control patronage by increasing entry fee for vehicles from K500 to K2 000. But that was not enough to stop revellers. The place was congested.
Police and Marine Department tightened security to avoid recurrence of theft and drowning cases by increasing visibility of its officers. But that was not enough too.
Just like on Christmas Day, another drowning case was recorded. Nkhata Bay Police Station spokesperson Ignatius Esau said Rashid Matola, 26, drowned as he tried to swim in the lake.
As Matola was taken out of the lake and rushed to Nkhata Bay District Hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arrival, the fun didn’t stop. In fact, that’s the time more locals trekked to the beach.
It transpired that the locals prefer the night when the beach hosts a disco which runs all night long. But for Mzuzu residents, that’s the time they bade farewell to the fun.
On Sunday, a few hours after the disco had started there was a blackout that curtailed the fun. Then there was a heavy downpour. That forced about half of the revellers to leave the venue. Some hanged on in anticipation of the electricity to return but it never did up to the next day. Owners of the venue switched to a standby generator to power the equipment which resumed up to the early hours of Monday.
Nkhata Bay resident Lovemore Banda said Chikale hosts a multitude every festive season such as Easter, Christmas and New Year.
He said public holidays and Sundays are also busy on the beach as various businesspersons make a kill with fish braai, beer and soft drinks.
The district is just the hub of entertainment during festivities in the North although it rarely hosts music shows.
“The lake is a blessing for us because it is the centre of attraction for fun-seekers unlike with our colleagues in cities who have the pleasure of music shows,” said Banda.
Banda hopes that the district will be opened to more visitors once the Mzuzu-Nkhata Bay Road construction project is finalised.
Mzuzu resident Patrick Moyo said the road to Nkhata Bay is a major setback for revellers to visit the district.
He said the road is in a pathetic state that puts at risk travellers.n