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Notes on the Geography of Malawi: Zomba: Photo 2

world pictures Malawi: Zomba

A residency for the British consul was built on a bit of the 100 acres acquired for a Consulate in 1885. The price, Baker writes, was "96 yards of blue calico, 48 yards of white calico, two red handkerchiefs, six Arab scarves, two Muscat scarves, one Japanned tin dispatch box, three looking-glasses, and three knives" (p. 78).

Buchanan built the residency, shown here. The metal roof was Johnston's doing and replaced thatch. A chief secretary named Duff wrote in 1900 of this building that "architecturally, it is the only striking feature of Zomba, and is indeed a notable landmark, being two stories high (a rare thing in Central Africa), and made further conspicuous by the peaked turrets which flank its angles, as in some old chateau of Touraine" (Quoted in Karolin Stahl, "Some Notes on the Development of Zomba," in J. of the the Society of Malawi, 2010).

Having built the place, John Buchanan lived here as consul; so did Johnston. His successor, Alfred Sharpe, complained of the "Zomba chill" and built a much grander residency, off-limits today and hidden from snoops. The Old Residency then became the residence of the chief secretary and, later, a government hostel. Today it is a hotel. The men are unloading live chickens in time for dinner.

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