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The Society of Malawi

On the upper floor of the historic Mandala House, Blantyre, is a treasure trove of Malawi’s history, collected and curated by The Society of Malawi.

The Society was founded in 1946 to:

• Promote interest in literary, historical and scientific matters
• Discover and record facts and information about Malawi which might otherwise be lost
• Acquire books on Africa generally but especially books relating to Malawi, to serve as a reference library   to be maintained for the use of members and visitors
• Support the museums of Malawi

Mandala House was built of grass, mud and bricks in 1882, for the Mandala company and is the oldest building standing in Malawi. The Mandala company was founded in 1878 by the two Moir brothers from Scotland, John & Frederick, who were the first managers of the company. Mandala was the trading name of the African Lakes Company.

Now, upstairs, the Society’s reference library and archive contains a magnificent collection of books, journals, documents, maps and photographs, several dating back to the 19th century. The books cover a wide range of subjects mainly referring to Africa in general and to Malawi in particular. They include history, government, sociology, biography, travel and exploration and wildlife. There are over 7,000 images in the Society’s electronic archive and an excellent collection of historic maps.

The Library and Archive, run by volunteers, provides an ideal environment both for general browsing and serious research. There are also several attractive publications about Malawi on sale.

Library Hours of Opening
• Monday to Friday 9am to 12noon
• 2nd Thursday of each month, evenings 6pm to 7.30pm

In Limbe, within The Heritage Centre, next to the Shire Highlands Hotel, the Society runs the interesting photographic Transport Museum. Exhibits cover the period from 1867 to 1996 and include fully captioned photographs, artefacts and other items of interest.

Guided tours are available 9am to 12 noon Wednesdays. The museum is open for browsing during normal office hours.

The Society organises monthly talks on the last Tuesday of each month (except August and December) at Blantyre Sports Club, starting at 7pm. There are also regular outings to places of interest.

Twice a year the Society publishes a journal, available free to members and at a small cost to others. The Journal has the distinction of having remained in continuous publication since the first issue dated January 1948. It has spanned a fascinating period from the history of colonial Nyasaland through the independence of Malawi (1964) and beyond to the present multi-party era (post-1994).

The current editors, Prof Colin Baker and David Stuart-Mogg, continue the high standards set by previous editors and the Society is proud to maintain this tradition of excellence.

If you are interested in joining the society, visit www.societyofmalawi.org.  Thee society are keen to add more photos to their archive and urge anyone who havee any more images, or have information about the images curently heldd, to contact secretary@societyofmalawi.org or societyofmalawi@africa-online.net