Social Documentary Photography – Malawi

Men dig the holes to plant tobacco near Zomba. They start work before sunrise to avoid the heat. Malawi’s economy is heavily dependent on the demand for tobacco. Burley leaf tobacco is responsible for over 70% of Malawi’s foreign earnings.

 

Documentary Photographer Ian McNaught Davis is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography. These images are from his project “Malawi: No Gold, No Diamonds, No Wars‘.  To see Ian’s photo essays click on any image.

 

A woman plants tobacco on a tobacco estate near Zomba in Malawi. Growing tobacco is a thirsty business – each plant requires 20 liters of water to secure it in the dry ground after it is planted.

A woman plants tobacco on a tobacco estate near Zomba in Malawi. Growing tobacco is a thirsty business – each plant requires 20 liters of water to secure it in the dry ground after it is planted.

 

A conductor leads a choir at the Mzuzu Pentecostal Church in the town of Mzuzu, Malawi’s third largest city.

A conductor leads a choir at the Mzuzu Pentecostal Church in the town of Mzuzu, Malawi’s third largest city.

 

Agnes lives in Monkey Bay with her brother. She is unemployed and hopes to find work in South Africa one day.

Agnes lives in Monkey Bay with her brother. She is unemployed and hopes to find work in South Africa one day.

 

Touted as the “warm heart of Africa”, Malawi has a reputation for peacefulness and stability, especially when compared to the political situations and histories of its neighbors. Some attribute this to the country’s lack of resources and the conflicts that such assets are prone to sprout.

 

At dawn, fisherman paddle to villagers in their dugout canoes to sell their previous night’s catch. Here, a boy forages for unsold fish amongst an animated and frantic sale on Nkhata Bay’s shore.

At dawn, fisherman paddle to villagers in their dugout canoes to sell their previous night’s catch. Here, a boy forages for unsold fish amongst an animated and frantic sale on Nkhata Bay’s shore.

 

A fisherman repairs his trawling net in Monkey Bay on the beach of Lake Malawi.

A fisherman repairs his trawling net in Monkey Bay on the beach of Lake Malawi.

 

A woman mines sand for building on the shore of Lake Malawi near Nkhata Bay.

A woman mines sand for building on the shore of Lake Malawi near Nkhata Bay.

 

Despite its famed placidity, Malawi is wracked with challenges, notably brought on by ruthless droughts. The government estimates that 40% of its population is in need of food aid. Adding to that, rampant deforestation and an intermittent electricity supply is thwarting progress.

 

A goalkeeper leaps to defend a soccer ball in on a pitch amongst a forest outside Livingstonia. The town was founded in 1894 by Scottish missionaries, who chose the location in the highlands to avoid malaria-carrying mosquitoes along the lake.

A goalkeeper leaps to defend a soccer ball in on a pitch amongst a forest outside Livingstonia. The town was founded in 1894 by Scottish missionaries, who chose the location in the highlands to avoid malaria-carrying mosquitoes along the lake.

 

A woman carries water in her bucket to control a fire intended to clear land near Monkey Bay. Malawi loses up to 2.8% of its trees each year, according to its Department of Forestry. An overseas initiative is currently promoting the use of sandbag houses to curb deforestation by avoiding the reliance on bricks and the wood that goes into making them

A woman carries water in her bucket to control a fire intended to clear land near Monkey Bay. Malawi loses up to 2.8% of its trees each year, according to its Department of Forestry. An overseas initiative is currently promoting the use of sandbag houses to curb deforestation by avoiding the reliance on bricks and the wood that goes into making them

 

A girl stands next to a painted tree in between classes at Chimpeni Primary School, near Zomba. The latest UNICEF figures show Malawi’s adult literacy at 61%.

A girl stands next to a painted tree in between classes at Chimpeni Primary School, near Zomba. The latest UNICEF figures show Malawi’s adult literacy at 61%.

 

Although lacking in minable reserves, Malawi’s prized resource is the enormous lake that slices through the landlocked country. Lake Malawi  – Africa’s third largest lake that wells up in crevices created by Great Rift Valley – is the country’s lifeblood. Millions of Malawians use it as a source of food and irrigation, and to wash, play, sell and buy on its shores.

 

A woman grinds maize at a flour mill in Zomba to make nsima, a thick maize porridge that is large part of the staple diet of Malawians.

A woman grinds maize at a flour mill in Zomba to make nsima, a thick maize porridge that is large part of the staple diet of Malawians.

 

A man waters the garden at the city of Blantrye’s Shree Hindu temple. Indians originally arrived in Malawi as labourers for building railways, and comprise a small minority of the Malawian population today.

A man waters the garden at the city of Blantrye’s Shree Hindu temple. Indians originally arrived in Malawi as laborers for building railways, and comprise a small minority of the Malawian population today.

 

An albino girl is forced to sit close to the blackboard because of her poor eyesight. Malawians with albinism are at a huge risk of being abducted and killed, as their body parts are sold for witchcraft.

An albino girl is forced to sit close to the blackboard because of her poor eyesight. Malawians with albinism are at a huge risk of being abducted and killed, as their body parts are sold for witchcraft.

 

A man whitewashes a new grave in the graveyard of St Peter’s Anglican Church in Lilongwe. People die young in Malawi; the WHO claims the average life expectancy for men is 57 and 60 for women.

A man whitewashes a new grave in the graveyard of St Peter’s Anglican Church in Lilongwe. People die young in Malawi; the WHO claims the average life expectancy for men is 57 and 60 for women.

 

A student at Chimpeni Primary School outside Zomba stands to answer a question from the school principal.

A student at Chimpeni Primary School outside Zomba stands to answer a question from the school principal.

 

A teacher reprimands a student for being late for class at a school in Zomba.

A teacher reprimands a student for being late for class at a school in Zomba.

 

A street-side greeting in front of posters advertising a prayer rally headed by German Pentecostal evangelist Reinhard Bonkke in the town of Blantyre.

A street-side greeting in front of posters advertising a prayer rally headed by German Pentecostal evangelist Reinhard Bonkke in the town of Blantyre.

 

A Muslim sits on the side of the road in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital. According the Malawi Religion Project, a quarter of Malawians are Muslim.

A Muslim sits on the side of the road in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital. According the Malawi Religion Project, a quarter of Malawians are Muslim.

 

See also:

Faith and Loathing in Ethiopia

By Ian McNaught Davis

 


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