Regular travellers from Malawi to Mozambique, a gateway to Zimbabwe or Republic of South Africa won’t miss the scenery of Neno and Mwanza. Mwanza border post, three kilometers away from the Boma is the hub of entry and exit from or into Malawi. To someone interested in Islam, notes that from Zalewa to Mwanza border, there is a scanty population of Masjids along the way. Two Masjids are visible at Mwanza Boma, the old Suleiman (Mwanza Main Masjid) and the Zagaf sponsored, Mwanza Muslim Jamaat.
Going into the interior of Mwanza through the Michiru junction, is a vast hilly land bordering into Majete game reserve in Chikhwawa. Through Tulonkhondo area, you head to Chidothe at Envulo near Changoyima in Chikhwawa as you go towards Chapananga or Tsakama in Mozambique. This area is where the renowned railway section 3 of the Nacala Corridor Project is underway as it treks from Cambulatsitsi from Mozambique to Nkaya junction in Balaka.
What attracted my inner most attention is the lack of Muslims and the ignorance that the inhabitants of this area have towards Islam. Mwanza is backward as far as Islamic development and advocacy is concerned. From Michiru junction to Changoyima a distance close to 60 KM and from Changoyima passing through Kalanga towards Thambani to Mwanza, an hour drive distance there are no known Muslims and no Masjid in sight. The inhabitants largely a mixture of Chewa and Ngoni have no clue of what Islam stands for. To those who haven’t travelled, a Masjid and even a woman in Hijab may be a strange sight.
An interview with former MAM chairperson for Mwanza, Brother Suleiman gave me a clear picture of events towards this development lapse in the district.
“Missionary work is very passive towards Mwanza. I have chaired MAM in Mwanza for 15 years but the MAM executive has done nothing to develop the district,” lamented the former chair.
He also mourned lack of interest to individuals and Islamic organizations who are fond of eastern region and some districts in the south leaving Mwanza to suffer. He wondered why Organizations continue constructing masjids few meters apart in some districts while others suffer. He also wondered at advocates who frequent other districts where there is already Muslim population leaving Mwanza to slumber.
My visit to Kalanga trading center near Thambani met a Murtad lady (Someone who has renounced Islam) The lady who opted for anonymity told me that she was once married by a Muslim who plied his trade in Mwanza Boma and took her to Masjid. She narrated that this was her first time to come into contact with Islam but the marriage was short-lived and she renounced Islam as it does not fit her culture. She confessed that there are no individuals in her area whom she can point as Muslims.
Mwanza is Islam locked with no access to the truth. Currently, Malawi has a number of Organizations doing missionary work, but are doing nothing on the matter. A few years ago, a Dawah group, Followers of Swahabah through own initiative visited an area near Thambani where several people reverted but lack of support to maintain these new reverts brought them back to polytheism. This is quite sad as there is no complement of efforts among individuals and Organizations.
It’s a call to all concerned individuals and organizations to start thinking of Mwanza as an urgent target for the missionary work in order to bail out multitudes that lack the monotheistic message.
The writer, Patrick Hamza Mpumira writes to Malawi Muslims Official Website in his personal capacity as an Islamic Advocate & Human Resource Practitioner.