It is 11 am and Mary Jusa seems unconcerned by the sun beating hard on her back. Humming a traditional tune, she carries on uprooting weeds in her maize field between two water canals.
Cecilia Gondwe waits in the shade of a tree at the Mwanza Border Post between Malawi and Mozambique. Somewhere inside, a clearing agent is completing elaborate paperwork on her behalf.
The thickest book on secondary school teacher Hellen Ndalama’s desk is her indigenous language dictionary. It is also her most-used book.
Maize farmer Anita Yunus has lived near the Mulanje Mountain in southern Malawi for over 30 years. And she does not remember there ever being a drought in the area.
Let the rains fail, even for several successive seasons, and Malawi should still be able to produce enough to feed itself.
Every morning 12-year-old Thomson Genti and his seven-year-old brother, Chifundo, emerge dirty and wretched from the squalor of their hideout behind the crowded shops in the commercial town of Limbe. It is the start of a day of begging, beatings from the older street boys and insults from passers-by.
As Susan Muonanji and other vendors scrambled around one of the many transport busses to sell cabbages and tomatoes at a market along one of Malawi’s key roads, a national budget session had just started in parliament some 100 kilometres away in the capital city, Lilongwe.
While campaigning in the last election, Margaret Roka Mauwa, Member of the Malawian Parliament, did not promise her voters that when she won she would buy them coffins.
It was, Malawian police say, a routine sweep for criminals at one of the country’s busiest border posts. They were looking for criminals.
In a country where maize crop surplus fills the national storehouses to capacity, farmers Ida and Montfort Salijeni and their four children have turned to wild tubers for food.