Livingstonia or Kondowe is a town located in the Northern Region district of Rumphi in Malawi. It is 270 miles north of the capital, Lilongwe. The town of Mzuzu can be reached on tarred road in about 2–3 hours from Chitimba on the shore Lake Malawi.
Livingstonia was founded in 1894 by missionaries from the Free Church of Scotland. The missionaries had first established a mission in 1875 at Cape Maclear, which they named Livingstonia after David Livingstone, whose death in 1873 had rekindled British support for missions in Eastern Africa. The mission was linked with the Livingstonia Central Africa Company, set up as a commercial business in 1877. By 1881 Cape Maclear had proved extremely malarial and the mission moved north to Bandawe. This site also proved unhealthy and the Livingstonia Mission moved once again to the higher grounds between Lake Malawi and Nyika Plateau. This new site proved highly successful because Livingstonia is located in the mountains and therefore not prone to mosquitoes carrying malaria. The mission station gradually developed into a small town.
The leading missionary for 52 years was Dr Robert Laws. He established in Livingstonia the best school in his time for the whole region, and Livingstonia graduates became influential in several neighbouring countries, including the southernmost, South Africa. Among notable alumni of the school was the writer Legson Kayira, who graduated in 1958. The title of his autobiographical work I Will Try was taken from the school motto.
Dr Laws wanted Livingstonia to develop into a University, but his successors did not pursue the dream. In 2003 the Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian (CCAP) renewed the vision and started Livingstonia University (Link to website).
The houses in Livingstonia are characteristic in that they are mostly constructed with red bricks.
Inexpensive accommodation is available for travellers at the Stone House, the original house of Dr. Robert Laws. It also has a small museum about the history of Livingstonia.
The roads to Livingstonia do not have any tarmac. There are two ways to go to the town: From Chitimba at Lake Malawi in the north via the S103 (T305), a steep hillside road with multiple hairpin bends, or from the south via T306 and T305, both of which are in poor condition and became almost unusable in the wet season. The roads' condition is very bad and there are no public buses going to Livingstonia. From Chitimba visitors can walk up to Livingstonia via the S103, although this walk does take several hours and is physically challenging.
David Gordon Memorial Hospital had its foundation stone laid in 1910 and was opened in 1911. David Gondwe was Livingstonia's first formally trained hospital assistant. However he was sacked as the mission administration thought that his polygamous marriage rendered him "unstable". However he soon was employed by the governmental Colonial Medical Services. The hospital currently serves a catchment area with a population of approximately 60,000.
- Lonely Planet, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia (1st Ed.). 1997. Lonely Planet Publications, Hawthorne, Australia.
- For the history of Livingstonia Mission and Synod see: John McCracken, Politics and Christianity in Malawi 1975-1940. The Impact of the Livingstonia Mission in the Northern Province, 2nd ed., Blantyre: CLAIM, 2000, 376 pp.
- Davidsbeenhere (2 July 2014). Malawi, Africa Country Travel Guide 2014. Davidsbeenhere.com, LLC. p. 15. GGKEY:HWAD8WP4N8B.
- Legson Kayira I Will Try (Autobiography) (1965), pp. 45, 56.
- World Gazetteer: Malawi: largest cities and towns and statistics of their population
- Greenwood, Anne (2015). Beyond the state: The Colonial Medical Service in British Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Livingstonia Hospital Partnership
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