My mood was sober as I sat on the plane. I was looking forward to seeing my family.
Occasionally I would interrupt that frame of mind by looking through the window, and down below.
Among the many things that I could not help seeing, the beauty of Malawi from above is sweet to the eye. Actually my eyes almost salivated at that beautiful natural landscaping below.
The rolling hills, connected by well cut out gorges, all covered in a suit of green vegetation – the sight was endearing to behold.
This feeling just gave zest to the excitement that possessed me as I landed at Chileka International Airport, at least not until the bird taxied to a halt.
Unsuspectingly, a young man sitting next to me exclaimed saying “They are still working on the building?!”
It was at this point that I paid attention to the structure. Let me confess, I could not believe my eyes. The sight was simply unbelievable.
To think of foreigners landing at this airport made me sad. As I stepped out of the plane gasped and reached for my camera. I had to take a few shots of this. We can’t be serious. We surely can’t!
Chileka Airport as I knew it as a child was no more. The building was in shambles. You would think that by now the building would be bigger and more modern. I soon learned from the young man that the rehabilitation works had been going on for over a year now.
Imagine my disappointment at the thought of our airline not having planes at a time when air travel is the order of the day. This is simply not acceptable!
I was almost feeling disgusted. Many questions started filling my mind.
What happened to the saying that “first impressions matter?” What impression does Malawi create when its airport, the front office at the point of entry into the country, is left to stand in almost ruinous state?
I remained puzzled.
If I was an investor or a tourist coming to Malawi for the first time and didn’t know the charm of the people I would assuredly be put off with the way our airport looks.
It is an eye sore and a mischaracterization of the people of Malawi.
Just how do we convince tourists that we are a place to be if the first thing they see is an airport hurtling into the abyss of neglect?
At a time when we are rebuilding from the chaotic leadership of the past we really need to focus on cleaning up our image. Presentability of our infrastructure must be one of the items on the menu.
And there are many more things that must make the list as the president herself acknowledged in an interview with Hon. Sidik Mia ministry of Roads and Transport just this past week when they were interviewed by Frank Kapesa on MBCTV the national TV station. Our roads, our electricity, our water, our communication, our markets all are interconnected. Our customer service should be included in there somewhere. It’s like time moves at its own pace in Malawi. The list goes on and on.
His faults aside, First President Ngwazi Dr Kamuzu Banda must be rolling in his grave, disturbed at the transformation of the country into ugliness attending to it.
The state of things is a far cry from what Dr Banda, the disciplinarian would tolerate.
Driving along the Kamuzu highway by the museum at Chichiri, one is greeted by the bushy grass growing along the roadside. I remember the nicely trimmed grass, clean streets, roads without pothole and the nicely painted buildings. That was the time when all the nasty looking buildings had a mark of a red X on them, meaning they had to be demolished.
Today, instead of demolishing them, authorities are helplessly encouraging the old x-rated buildings and the new magnificent ones to co-exist in good neighborliness.
We really need to try to clean up Malawi if we are serious about attracting investors or the tourists.
I have yet to find a human being who is not proud of clean beautiful surroundings.