We have a new mural in Zomba, presenting a map of the city. It gives a sense of its layout, some of its main features and the hospitality that it offers. But you could never do justice to Zomba when you only have two dimensions.
On my morning run last Sunday I fell in step with another early morning jogger. He was a Chancellor College student when I was teaching there in the early 1990s and has never left Zomba. Though his work has often been based in other cities in Malawi he has always kept his home in Zomba simply because it has become the place of his heart. As we ran together, and vistas opened up to Lake Chilwa to the east and the Mulanje Massif to the south, it was not hard to see why.
Much of the magic of Zomba lies in its topography. It is dominated by the Zomba Mountain that rises above it. As you move around the city you are always getting a slightly different perspective on the mountain scenery. With ever-changing light and weather patterns around the mountain, it is a constant drama. And a very rich human community has formed that somehow reflects its splendid surroundings.
I am leaving Zomba for a little while to head for Scotland, navigating all the challenges of travelling from a “red zone” country to the UK, and looking forward to reconnecting with family after more than a year of being apart. It has been an exacting year, with the pandemic presenting unprecedented challenges, so we are glad to have a chance to regroup. Meanwhile Zomba remains a place of the heart and I look forward to being back after my Spring break in Scotland.