LILONGWE, MALAWI, JUNE 5 2017 – It’s just after 6 p.m. in Lilongwe and the Chipiku Plus grocery store is crowded with people doing after work shopping. We are here to gather basics: tea, cereal, juice, a large case of bottled water. Despite the crowd, the lines at the counter are moving efficiently. Suddenly the lights go out. No one scurries out. No one does anything out of the ordinary. By the light of several raised cell phones, the clerk continues trying to scan items. She’s unsuccessful but never breaks rhythm.
A minute or two pass. The lights flash back on.
“Welcome to Africa,” Anthony Charles says, slapping me on the back.
Home for the week is a simple house behind a brick wall and a metal gate. There’s a guard at the gate and a big dog named Zsa Zsa. Zsa Zsa is the more skeptical of the two. The guard is warm and friendly, ready to talk. He tells me he likes country and western music, Don Williams especially. He asks me how often I’ve traveled to New York. He proudly shows me around the grounds, pointing out the fruit trees. Oranges still green on the tree. Peach and mango trees that, now bare, will be dropping sweet fruit in December once summer arrives.
Home and settled, it’s time to work.