Now we all know 2020 sucked majorly. There’s no argument about it. 2020 proved to us that we can plan, but God decides. It humbled us all! Me included. But I thought of looking back to some positives instead, and bring you this round-up.
I made my first Yearly Round-up in 2018 and I was hoping to keep it running, but unfortunately, my site was down since late 2019 so I couldn’t write and publish posts like I wanted, and I apologise for that. But I’m back, and I hope to make up for all the time I went MIA.
Right, let’s get into it!
Top 5 places I visited:
1. Nkhata Bay
I’ve always considered Nkhata Bay my second home. I spent about 4 years of my teenage life at a boarding school called Tukombo Girls Secondary School, so it is a district very close to my heart. I visited Tukombo twice this year; in May as we were on our way to a friend’s wedding in Mzuzu, and in December for a little vacation. Tukombo is close to Lake Malawi (largest lake in Malawi), so we stopped over to have our lunch by the beach. The nostalgia was real!
In December, my sisters and I planned a mini-vacation and I was so happy to see more of Nkhata Bay. It is a beauty! The clear water, the hills, the winding roads… A site to behold! Worth all the hours of traveling. The weather was great, and we were spoiled with beach choices.
The people there are also friendly and there are loads of activities if you’re not into just sitting and relaxing. We went canoeing – scary at first but fun once you get the hang of it.
We also visited Chikale beach and Chintheche Inn.
And had lunch, a swim and boat ride at Sambani Lodge.
This is the best place to go swimming because the water is crystal clear and shallow for several metres. My three sisters and I played our favourite childhood ball game of flaye in the lake with no problems.
Best believe I’m already planning my next Nkhata Bay trip!
2. Chingwe’s Hole
When Covid-19 first started and gave us all a scare, schools closed and a lot of things came to a halt. The boredom was real, and thankfully, the virus wasn’t widespread yet, so we decided to hike Zomba Mountain in April. In Malawi, we didn’t have a lockdown which meant we could still travel around. We hiked to the highest peak called Mlumbe Peak (where you can see as far as Liwonde National Park and the meandering of Shire River).
And then we went to Chingwe’s Hole. There are a lot of stories about the hole, from enemies, lepers and mentally challenged people being thrown down the “hole of nothingness”, to the story of the hole reaching the base of the Rift valley. You can read more about the mystery behind Chingwe’s Hole in this blogpost by Agnes Mizere.
What really struck me though, was the beautiful view a few metres from the hole. I thought I knew Zomba Mountain, but after this trip, I discovered there’s so much I still don’t know!
The hike took us about 8 hours in total. I came back with a limping leg and a black toenail. I couldn’t wear a closed shoe for weeks. I still have the scars from the trip which I wear proudly.
I would recommend getting a guide for this kind of hike. They are totally worth the fee. I recommend Jonas Beyard and I’m happy to pass his digits to anyone who needs his services.
3. Malingunde/Kamuzu Dam
I spent about a quarter of my year in Lilongwe. One of the many reasons I was there is because I wanted to shoot a music video. So in October, we decided to go to Malingunde Dam for the shoot. The dam is some half hour drive away from Likuni. This is gonna sound silly, but I didn’t know the capital city had such a gem!
Unfortunately, it was very hot and dry, so there was no waterfall that day 😕 😢. But when it is ‘fully functional’, here is how beautiful it looks:
You can watch the music video for The Lord is Coming on YouTube to see more of Malingunde Dam’s beauty.
4. Bunda Mountain
Another surprise Lilongwe has up its sleeve is Bunda Mountain. My friend from secondary school, Joanna, invited me for the hike. The hill is pretty steep, and once, I thought I was going to die because my heart was beating so fast, I was exhausted and hot. But what’s a hike without feeling like dying at least once? My friends were super nice and kept asking if I needed anything. They were honestly such a supportive hike team (and it helped that they were as lazy as I was, resting after every few minutes 😆).
The view from the top though, was worth the pain. I don’t know what I was expecting, I just know it blew me away! Especially how much the rock arrangements reminded me of the Great Wall of China.
5. Villa Kupa
Some people have described Villa Kupa as a “mini Sunbird Ku Chawe Hotel”. It is fairly new, but goodness, the service is exquisite, the food is delish [insert chef’s kiss here] and the view of Zomba is beautiful!
I went there twice this year – for my little sister’s birthday dinner and Little Big Prints Farewell dinner; both times at night, but I still enjoyed the view and serenity. I’ve also been to their rooms, and I would 10/10 recommend.
Top 5 books I’ve read:
This year, I didn’t read as much as I would have loved, so I’m going to include books I read last year (allow it please lol).
1. How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana
I have never related to a memoir like this! Apart from the war experiences, moving to a first world country while trying to find yourself and stay true to your roots were all things I could relate to! It’s a sad story, and I shed some tears. Everyone should read this book to realise how tribal wars impact children and families. It’s also a good reminder that refugees are people worthy of respect and dignity too.
2. Tender Underneath by Angasa Salome
My good friend Angasa wrote this coming-of-age novel. I am super proud of her and how excellent her writing came out in this book. I love how realistic the storyline was, something I feel most YA stories miss. You can buy it here.
3. Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala
Another war story of a child soldier in an unknown African country. Tears were also shed. The narration is brilliant and authentic.
4. Zikora by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
This is not a book, but a good short story. Chimamanda reminds us why she is a celebrated author.
5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
I read this book to see what the fuss was about. There was a lot I learnt from it, which has made me develop the habit of decluttering every few months. I found a few things a bit ridiculous, like talking to your possessions and thanking them, and the idea that our clothes have ‘feelings’. Otherwise, I found the rest of the tips very useful.
10 songs I overplayed in 2020
1. Promises – Maverick City Music
2. My Heart Your Home – Maverick City Music
Maverick City Music made our year, guys. Where have they been all this time? 🥺🤧
3. No Longer Slaves – Mercy Mashiano and Brandon Robertson from the Eagles Rise Live album. You can find it on YouTube with links to stream the (brilliantly produced) album on other platforms.
4. Cathedral – Jonathan McReynolds
5. Situation – Jonathan McReynolds (listen to his People 2020 album. You’re welcome).
6. Is He Worthy? – Shane & Shane/Maverick City Music (shout out to my Kenyan music plug, Grace Muthungu, for hooking me up to this great song!)
7. You Keep Me – Travis Greene ft. Laura Wilson and K.J. Scriven
8. Just Want You – Travis Greene
9. One More River – Jimmy Swaggart
10. New Wine – Hillsong Worship
Modesty accounts I followed in 2020 (Instagram)
1. Meda aka @HowiRockMySkirt on Instagram who also wrote a guest post on the importance of playing dress-up which you can read here.
2. Modestly Chics has a collection of different modest fashion outfits.
4. Modesty_and_chic_in_the_lord has the best modest fashion posts. Follow them on Instagram.
5. Real Apostolic Fashion also regularly updates modest outfits.
Top 5 Apps
1. Pinterest – okay let me explain. There was a time during the year when I started to feel hopeless about my future. Pinterest is the app that made me dream again – about decorating my own house, trying new crafts and… well, that dream wedding (come on y’all, I know I’m not the only one 😂😂). Let’s keep dreaming and pinning on those boards!
2. Charades – for that game night, picnic or just a quick icebreaker. You can download the game for free from all stores.
3. Canva – a small business owner like me thinks Canva is the best thing since sliced bread. For when you don’t have the dough to pay a graphic designer or you want something quick, Canva is a lifesaver.
4. Days Left – it’s not necessarily an app, but a widget that counts down to a certain date (your birthday, Mother’s day, when the lockdown will end 🤧).
5. The Table – all the messages of Brother Branham are on this app. I particularly love that you can create your own bookmark categories. I have one I named “Encouragement” and I read the quotes I bookmarked whenever I’m feeling down. They really pushed me through this difficult year.
I know times are hard all over the world, but may God take you through whatever life throws at you. We don’t know what 2021 has in store for us, but we know who holds it. May your hope always rest in the Lord.
I wish you a happy and prosperous new year.
Be safe, travel cautiously, wash your hands regularly and remember to wear your mask!