Monday, October 19, 2009

A Sunday in Muloza

It is a market day in Muloza, a small trading centre in Mulanje District. Scores of people have defied the weather to come to the market to sell and buy various things. Traders from as far as Mozambique , Phalombe and Thyolo, they have come to be part of this weekly activity.

Muloza is one of the many border points that takes one to and from the vast country of Mozambique. Situated over 120Km away from the commercial city of Blantyre, Muloza is one of the closest borders to town.

Various things are sold on this day but it is the number of people that captured my interest. A good number of them comes from Milange area (popularly known as Villa) in Mozambique. An arrangement between the Malawi Immigration Department and the Mozambican Immigracao gave room to the inflow of people into both countries without problems.

Nothing can stand on the way for this day. It is still as busy as every Sunday regardless of which time of the month it falls. Even churches that congregate on this day knows better. They restrict their services to the three morning hours of 6 to 9. From then everyone gets ready for the market day.

From the border post to the market place, called Limbuli, one has to use bicycle taxis which are readily available at a wave of the hand. Specifically designed to give comfort to the customer, the bicycles cruise past scores of people who have opted to walk on foot. A 2.5 Km trip is done in less than twenty minutes on a bicycle taxi costing as low as K50.

At the marketplace, there are people everywhere and you are slowed down by them. Various goods are displayed in stalls, on the ground, in hawkers, while some are carried by people moving from one place to another.

Ranging from clothes, shoes, farm produce, and bicycle spares you can get almost everything you need for the home at Limbuli on Sunday. It matters less whether you are using Malawian Kwacha or Mozambican Meticals, money changes hands very fast.

Those coming from Blantyre are dropped right at the thick of things. On the stage there are various goods being sold to the passengers disembarking from the minibuses. A vendor clings to you trying to convince you to buy a thing you have not planned to buy. He follows you lowering the prices for you even before you utter a word.

A walk through the stalls gives you chance to sample out the goods. But you can also see through the people what this means to them. To some this is the only way to find basic needs in life. They are waiting for a few they will make from these sales to buy their necessities.

One thing i observed on this Sunday is that almost everyone benefits. From the bicycle taxis operators, the traders, the minibus operators to the porters, they all have something to take home. Whether it is enough or not they seem not to care but go home when darkness creeps in to prepare for the next Sunday.