a Little History
The history of Likoma island is intricately linked with the Church of England. In 1886, Chauncy Maples of the Church of England’s Mission to Central Africa founded a post on Likoma Island with his friend William Johnson.
9 years later he was named to be bishop of Likoma Island but he never arrived at the post. In his yearning for returning to Likoma Island, he underestimated the danger of a summer storm and drowned in his beloved lake. Bishop Maples grave can still be found Nkhotakota.
His friend Johnson remained committed to the path both friends had taken and grew to become one of the most valued missionaries to have worked in Malawi. For 46 years he travelled the lake by boat preaching the word of god.
Johnson’s words resonated with the local population and as a result of an extraordinary feat of African architecture in the shape of Likoma Cathedral, which is actually modelled on the Winchester Cathedral in England, was completed in 1911. The Likoma Mission founded by Maples and Johnson remained the headquarters of the Anglican church in Malawi until after the second world war.
St. Peter's Cathedral
The must-see sight of the island. Near Mbamba town, over 100 years old and bigger than Winchester! Even if you’re not the cathedral type, it never fails to leave people awestruck. Hopefully Vincent the verger will be there to give you the grand tour – always entertaining! You can make a day’s trip by walking to town, visiting the Cathedral then eating in the local restaurant called the Hunger Clinic Mbamba or Uncle Patel in Jalu, which provides cheap local food. Then head Up on to the north point of the island you’ll find a Forest reserve, near to some beautiful beaches which makes for a great day walk from Mango.
Just a 45-minute walk from Mango or a 5-minute walk from where the Ilala stops is the main town called Mbamba. Here you will find yourself a very short distance from the Cathedral, the Mission hospital and the main market area. Mbamba is a small and simple market town where you will find various shops and stalls selling daily essentials and also various chitenges, which is the local material found in Malawi.
If you decide to venture into town you can also find some restaurants selling good, cheap local food. Immigration is also located in Mbamba at the end of the main road near the lake if you need to extend your visa or get stamped out to travel over to Mozambique.
The town doesn’t offer a wide selection of supplies and food. However, you can get simple products such as tomatoes, onions and sweet potatoes including other simplicities. Bananas are around and in the right season Avocados and Papaya. Mango season falls late in the year where you can take what you want from the trees.
TRAVEL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Likoma Reforestation Project
The population of Likoma is growing and with that, the demand for firewood is as well. To sustain our island and protect its beautiful mango and baobab trees we support the Likoma Reforestation Project. Having been founded in 2018 the Likoma Reforestation Project has made available land and seeds to plant 50.000 fast-growing trees that can in time be used as firewood, therewith protecting the ecosystem and creating local jobs.
When visiting Mango Drift there are many initiatives and successful project that you can take part in and support, whether it’s doing a Katundu workshop or visiting the local school and teaching a class. If you are interested to travel with a purpose, please contact us for more information.
On the shores of Likoma Island, the Katundu workshop was founded in 2006 with the objective of empowering women through artisanal training and a sustainable income. The current workshop reflects this vision by employing a permanent team of 32 artists, about 75% of whom are ladies related to the local orphan program (single mothers and orphan-carers). The workshop’s focus on sustainability is not limited to creating a sustainable form of income in Malawi; much importance is placed on the impact of our products themselves. Combining ethical production with recycled and sustainable materials - whilst also maintaining an emphasis on quality - has resulted in an innovative and diverse product range.