Lake of Stars

[It’s taken me far too long to write about this music festival, sorry, so I’ll be brief and do it mostly with a few photos.]

Lake Of Stars International Music Festival, now in its fifth year, is the major music festival of Malawi. This year it was being held at Senga Bay on Lake Malawi, on the beach of the Livingstonia Beach Hotel. Fantastic shaded camping spots in the sand, across the road from the beach.

DSC_0636-DSC_0641 Rob inspecting our tents, having had enough of the sunset.

Rob and I shared a tent, while Steph, Penny and Sue shared another. We arrived after dark, setting up tent in hurry with music in background. I’ve never been to a dedicated music festival before, and as music festivals go, this must be a rather small one – with only one live stage and one DJ stage. With one stage, there was never a hassle choosing what to go see.

P1030076-P1030079 The live stage in the early evening.

DSC_0643 The music was good, though to be honest I didn’t pay too much attention to it. Mostly Malawian stuff, with one or two good international acts. The crowd on the first night were mostly white expats, with many more Malawians on Saturday. Some never recovered from the night before (see right).

By this stage I know at least three different expat groups of people in Malawi – the VSO colleagues who arrived with me and attended the in-country training with me; a broader volunteer group from Zomba; and a group of medics in Blantyre who I’ve met through Rob. (I was again surprised at how few South Africans there were. Expats in Malawi seem to be British, Dutch, German, Irish, Australian, American, in that order roughly. But few South Africans. Anyway, I got to practice my Dutch a lot which was great!) This meant that between dancing or listening at the main stage I could wander around a bit and was sure to bump into other people I knew. Such was the scale of the festival, and as my first music festival I think it was just grand. A boutique music festival, to be sure.

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The atmosphere was great, with a beach setting that would be hard to beat anywhere. Time spent swimming (the water is warm, with surprisingly large crashing waves), reading, chatting, wandering around.

P1030064 Late afternoon on the beach, live stage in the background.

On Saturday night two fellow volunteers had stuff stolen from their bags while lying inebriated on the beach, which is probably not too unexpected at a festival in a poor country like this. However, my two friends Sarah and Paul could not find it in their hearts to be angry with the thieves, who had very carefully removed the sim-cards from both phones and put them back in their bags. “They’re the kindest most thoughtful thieves I’ve ever known!” exclaimed Sarah afterwards, in what sounded like adoration. That’s Malawi for you.

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