1. One Kufa Road
The Church has leased the One Kufa Road residence for about 3 years. It is ideally located, less than four blocks from the Blantyre Chapel, in the beautiful neighborhood of Mandala, home to the Mandala House, one of the earliest plantation like homes, and one of several upscale communities in Blantyre. The home is a comfortable two bedroom home (including separate study), with two garage-like structures for storage and a boys quarters at the back, on what is probably an 2/3 acre corner lot. French doors off the living room open up to what is the front yard, with pleasant views across a small valley to a ridge line to the south. The property is leased from Aniz Aboobaker, our favorite landlord, whose family is of Indian descent, but have lived in Malawi for several generations, their Africa roots now deeply implanted, and ties with Indian distant and fading. Aniz, his wife and two adult sons (both of who are involved with the family business) are part of a large Indian family with substantial real estate and other business interests in Malawi. Both sons have gone to college in South Africa, the youngest at Monash University now, the eldest a graduate from there.
The property is the first lot on the left side of Kufa Road (hence One Kufa Road) (few streets in Blantyre have “street” names, only major thoroughfares and a handful of paved streets in the nicest neighborhoods), and occupies a splendid spacious lot, with established foliage--mature fruit-bearing passion fruit and avocado trees, palm trees, full bushes and lush vegetation—enclosed by a high brick security fence, topped with shards of glass and concertina wire. The property is cared for by Davey Mangani, who serves both as the day guard and as the full-time gardener, working six days a week (Sunday is his only off day). Davey has a home in his wife’s village, a 30 minute ride south of Blantyre, just off the road running to Chikwawa. Occasionally, his wife Chrissy, and two-year old son Mike, will catch the mini-bus to Blantyre to spend a few days in town, using the boys’ quarters at the back to cook nsima, but spending the nights in Davey’s quarters behind the Zone Leaders’ flat. Davey joined the Church several years back and, when in town on Sunday, attends the Blantyre 2nd Branch.
Davey is himself an institution, having worked as a gardener and guard for the senior couples for about 8 years. He remembers all of the couples—the Bullocks, Shields, Prets, and Reynolds—and has either gotten fond of or accustomed to them, and the peculiarities that come with the senior missionaries. Davey has a huge toothy grin, is always happy (or at least appears to be), and responds, with unfailing good cheer, whenever asked to help out. We are careful not to ask or expect too much, not wanting to abuse the relationship, knowing how accommodating he is by nature.
Without question, the grounds of One Kufa Road, under Davey’s tender care, must rival the grounds of the Garden of Eden. Blantyre’s climate seems to be almost perfect for growing flowering scrubs, bushes and trees, vibrant rich colors for every season. It is hard to think of any place in the world better suited as the original location for the Garden of Eden, though there is no evidence that the Garden was everywhere close to Malawi. Davey takes great pride in his handiwork; we do not oversee his work, and never ask or demand that he tend the yard. Each morning he rakes up fallen leaves and other debris, sweeps the driveway, trims hedges, cuts grass low, using a panga knife or electric mower (mowers themselves unusual). The yard and grounds would not look better if under the care of a grounds crews for a four or five-star leisure resort in South Africa
Initially I thought we would make use of the yard, sitting on the small deck at the back of the house, enjoying the fresh air, beautiful foliage, and pleasant view. There are several shady corners, under large trees, ideal for an quiet afternoon read, or spending a few idle moments. Or, at least, we might open the French doors, bringing the outdoors into the living room. But for whatsoever reason, rarely do we find the time. Only once did we use the backyard for hosting a party, when the full-time missionaries joined us to celebrate this past Thanksgiving (November 2015), having a South-African styled brai, instead of baking a turkey with stuffing.
|Davey, early in the morning, with local broom in hand. Every couple of months, Davey asks for a couple thousand kwacha to replace the native brooms, which are handy but don't last long.|
|Part of the boys' quarters at the back of the lot, used by the day and night guards for cooking.|
|The guard station at the front. When Davey is done with the day's work, or needs a break, or the weather is inclement, he may retreat to this shaded station.|
|This is one of the ugly reminders of the potential dangers of living in Blantyre. Every home in the nicer neighborhoods is protected by high brick walls, and often have around-the-clock on site guards.|
|Davey's smile is infectious. Without question, Davey is the gardener here.|
I will let the rest of the pictures tell their own story without embellishment.