This is our second week in the weekly series on the Book of Psalms where David introduces the Lord Jesus Christ as the all powerful, wise King of kings. Last week we saw David, the king of Israel open the Praise and Worship songs with a powerful statement. As a true leader, he set down the principles for his people to be blessed and remain prosperous.
This week, he turns his attention to the entire world and admonishes them to be wise, listen and learn. Let’s dig in:
“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
Psalms 2:1-12 KJV
David the Wise King
It must be great to serve under a spiritual king, especially one who is well rounded like King David. David was a humble man, but he was also very shrewd. He could quickly read situations, seek solutions and bring about tremendous results. Let’s just say David was very wise since sometimes the word shrewd is seen in the negative light.
David the great composer and inspired musician
His exploits inspired others to express conquest with flourish like the time he defeated Goliath, the Philistine Commando. His act inspired women to compose a song that exposed the hate that Saul had for David. But on top of this David himself was a prolific composer. His works are still a masterpiece across the world many generations later.
David the educator
David brought life and meaning to the Law of Moses. Whatever he knew he shared. The more he shared, the more he was inspired with insights on the Word of God. He was responsible for teaching his court, his army, the temple and the citizenry. He was an amazing man.
David the deeper worshipper
He believed in the Supreme Authority of his maker, Jehovah, the God of Israel. And for that reason the spirit of prophecy would fall on him and make him prophesy about the future. Like the case with this Psalm.
Jesus, the all wise anointed King
When David declared this Psalm, most people thought he was talking about himself. After all, prophet Samuel had anointed him as the king of Israel.
It must have been a very difficult position for a humble king to declare this prophecy. It is a big statement to say that the entire world is heathen and that it will be an inheritance to Israel. I can see the envoys from neighboring kingdoms raising their eyebrows very, very high. And diplomats from big and prosperous kingdoms like Egypt must have laughed it off as a wishful statement from a new, young king.
But the spiritual knew different. In the New Testament, the apostles took the same Scripture from Psalms. They said Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophesy. You find this in a moving story in the Book of Acts chapter four. I believe it too.
So what does that mean?
Reading the chapter again, King David introduces Jesus in the most powerful way as an effective leader. He is the One that will take over all the kingdoms of the world. He is not coming back to be a partner to the Republic of Malawi, or any other country as we know them today.
He’s not coming back to understand our way of life, and strike a compromise with modernity. This is one chapter that speaks of complete takeover, and forcing every knee to bow down. Not even King David could achieve that status. No one else can.
But before we become engrossed with a picture of power and unbending rule, look at the chapter again. There’s a way out. David instructs all the wise kings and judges to follow and serve the Lord. This has nothing to do with religion, race, or politics. He invites them to submit to God. What’s more? He promises those that do so blessings from heaven.
But are the kings of the world wise? Can he instruct the judges? Are the composers, musicians, educators and worshippers listening? At least, David the humble, wise king did.
The African setting for any thriving village is highlighted in its interactive communal life. Standard Bank as a true African business hub has attracted various partners to its Be More Race slated for 9 June 2018. One such partner is Sunbird Hotel Group, which has produced the catchy phrase “Be More Comfortable “.
Sunbird Hotels and Resorts in the Limelight
I caught up with Alex Kachepa, Sunbird’s Marketing Executive to understand more about the partnership. According to a questionnaire that was prepared by the Communications team at Standard Bank, here is what the Sunbird Chief Executive, Yusuf Olela, had to say about their association with Be More Race.
1. Why your institution is is joining the 2018 Be More Race?
Sunbird Hotels & Resorts believes in promoting health and well-being throughout our organization. From the employees to our guests, we encourage a healthy and active lifestyle that results in more productive and happier people. We offer free gym use to our in house guests at Sunbird Capital, Sunbird Mount Soche, Sunbird Mzuzu and Sunbird Livingstonia, Sunbird Nkopola. The Be More race captures the spirit of health and exercise which Sunbird identifies with and hence would like to be a part of. Our staff is encouraged to stay healthy and active through our social sports program which includes football and netball teams made up of staff from across the group. Both resorts have invested in modern high tech equipment for waters sports for all our clients to enjoy on their visit to our lake resorts.
2. In what role are you joining the Race i.e. co-sponsors, sending team or partners?
Sunbird Hotels & Resorts is a proud partner of the Be More race.
3. What kind of services will your institution provide during the event?
Sunbird Hotels & Resorts will be providing water to participants of the Be More race as well as offering special accommodation rates to participants of the Be More race at our 2 Lilongwe properties, Sunbird Capital & Sunbird Lilongwe.
4. What Message do you have to other participants (runners) and the general public?
The Be More race is an opportunity to practice a healthy lifestyle as well as an entertaining day for all participants. Sunbird Hotels and Resorts encourage the general public to come from far and wide to participate in the Be More race. Sunbird Hotels & Resorts will support participants by sponsoring the water for runners as well as offering comfortable city accommodation to all participants.
5. Other remarks
I would like to thank standard bank for their support and promotion of wellness through Be More Race.
[end of questionnaire]
So What Does that Mean to You?
I think this should wake up the tourist in you and I. If you happen to live outside Lilongwe, next week will be an opportunity for you to come and explore the city. Book yourself comfortable nights, and discover what this place has to offer.
And then of course, make sure you are part of history by attending the race in any of the three categories n
(5 KM, 10 KM ,21) and bring along family and friends, and have fun on 9 June 2019.
What about service Providers?
Again this is just my opinion, but Be More Race is a giant web attracting members of the business community, the diplomatic corps, Standard Bank customers and the general public.
If a service provider wishes to gain visibility, this would be that chance. Use your creativity and see how best you could use the race to promote your business, talent or offering.
Do not sleep on such a golden opportunity. As they say, opportunity favours the prepared.
After all, that is what any good bank is about – connecting you to your dreams. Standard Bank is one such a good bank in Malawi, and beyond.
I’m excited to the moon and back. This will be my first half-marathon, and I see a huge door opening beyond Be More Race. Truly, it’s great to stand on the shoulders of a giant.
There is nothing better than the sense of achievement. When you accomplish a difficult task, it feels like you have conquered the world. Nothing, and I mean, nothing can stand in your way.
I’m all too familiar with the deeply intoxicating feeling nowadays especially when I have successfully completed a difficult hike. I can sense my levels of confidence rising up, and more often than not I find myself staring in the face of what used to make me tremble.
This must be a good thing, right? Well, it depends. There’s nothing wrong in gaining confidence and having a sense of accomplishment. However, it is also easy to let the spirit of pride take ahold of you.
In the book of Proverbs it says man’s pride shall bring him low, but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.
So this is to me. I need to understand 1 Peter 5:6, which says “humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time”. The act of humility has to be done by me, no one else can do for me.
Therefore, I need to read it again. I must have a humble spirit as I conquer one summit after the other. You should do the same. For it is very pleasing to the Lord.
Two weeks ago, my bosom friend Chikondi Kachinjika or CK in short sent me an open invitation from the Hill Climbing Club for a weekend hike on the famous Senga Hills of Salima. The date for the event was 26 May 2018, the last Saturday of the month. Later on, another friend Alick Bwanali alias Onyamata AKB sent me the detailed program for the day.
I quickly marked the date on my calendar. This was not an opportunity to miss, for I had been trying for the last two years to find myself there. Senga Hills rise up from Senga Bay, a beautiful corner of Lake Malawi as it transverses the lakeshore district of Salima.
The program for the day promised some goodies. Admission was free. The rendezvous was the Parachute Battalion of the Malawi Defence Force. The main trail would be the same one that soldiers use for training.
My Preparations for the Day
I took two runs of about 7 km each in the week of the hike. I had plenty of rest, and were properly hydrated the day before the event. My supplies were simple – bottled water, one apple and some dried dates.
Unfortunately, I also picked a slight injury. What started as muscle cramps on the second run persisted for two days. I got advice from one of my trainers on how to speed track the recovery. It was very important for me not to miss the hike.
On Friday, just after lunch, in a moment of inspiration, I decided to stock up on calories the native way. I asked Cathy, my beloved wife, to prepare roasted local maize. It has never been my favourite but I thought I’d get a kick from it. Big mistake! The flinty grains destroyed my jaws and smashed my digestion. That evening was spent hunting for anti-acids in a few pharmacies in town. So much for beefing up on energy reserves the native way.
Idyllic Drive to Salima
For some reason, I could not go to bed and sustain a long sleep. I kept waking up due to excitement. At four in the morning, I got out of bed. I decided to skip my morning shower. I convinced myself that my evening bath was adequate. Ah! This was a weak line of reasoning. I gave up on it and took my hot bath – by the way, which I find relaxes the muscles much better than cold water.
I packed my essentials and started for Salima just after five in the morning. This is usually a one hour ride in a good car, but having destroyed the engine firing sequence with my recent adventure in Mangochi, I needed to take it easy. It was still dark when I left home, it was cold and as I was leaving the city boundary, it got foggy. I switched on my faulty air conditioning unit and settled in for the ride. The road was virtually empty except for very few cyclist and a lonely pedestrian here and there. At one point, a local dog, which was busy twisting its tail for the owner, lost focus and took the dance to the road. Fortunately, my speed was slow and it managed to get off the lane with a soft honk.
After a while, the fog cleared, and a soft light appeared towards the east. There was a single blueish-white star directly ahead of me. A few more stars were to my right, towards the south. Salima is a hilly district, and the road follows the contour of the area. Going up and down, curving to the left then right, the ride was getting sweet.
About half way from my destination, I could make out a flat line on the horizon. This is where the lake was located. A thin line of clouds had formed above it. It was flat at the bottom, with cotton puffs at the top. I could see a faint sky blue sipping around the clouds, with hints of light purple towards the far end on my right side.
Then as if on a cue, an infusion of orange started intensifying on my left side, and the cloud started getting bigger at the top. The bottom remained relatively flat. Then all at once a bright orange ball pierced through the clouds, and cast a diffused light into the morning atmosphere. I stopped the car to take it all in. This was beyond gorgeous. This was a special gift to those that were awake at that hour. It was so serene.
By the time I hit Salima Boma (the local district government centre) the rest of neighbourhood was awake. There was a concentration of bikes, people and cars. I asked for directions once or twice and finally found myself at the Parachute Battalion. I was the first to arrive, and not surprisingly, having left Lilongwe rather too early.
The long awaited hike on Senga Hills
Bit by bit, hikers arrived from all corners of the country. Some arrived from Nkhotakota, some from Lilongwe and others from within Salima. It was a good mix of seasoned hikers and rookies. We had both civilian and military officers.
We got a briefing from Captain Soko, who is second in command at the Battalion. The Chief Special Forces Instructor, Corporal Joseph Lipande, towering above everyone, and packing muscle everywhere on his super chiselled body, was introduced. Cpl Lipande gave us a detailed plan for the day. Senga hills is a collection of 12 to 15 hills. And the day’s hike would focus on the three main hills, culminating at the trig station on the highest hill. We would then descend down to the beach.
We were then introduced to the team of medics. We had an ambulance on standby that would be following us on the road parallel to the hills. And the military hospital was on alert to handle any cases of injury and exhaustion. We were immediately put at ease that we were in good hands.
Major Chimbayo, who is the Commanding Officer for the Battalion, gave us a battle cry for the Airborne Division and led us into battle – a battle with the rolling hills.
We trekked out from the Senior Officers Mess, which was our hosting station, to the starting point. The little walk warmed up our muscles as anticipation grew in the air. When we got there, ladies were asked to join the leading guides and then men came next. The medics were spread across the group, and the rear was brought up with medics and those doing Admin. Whistles were blown and then we took off.
We took a roll call, and we were 63 strong. The military is unbelievably organised and efficient to the core. The medics at the rear broke into seedy military songs. We had frequent stops to allow people to catch a breath. Everyone was encouraged to be sipping water regularly but in small portions. Not that the instruction was heeded very well as some hikers who were by now feeling very hot wished they were carrying gallons of the cool, crystal stuff. The cruel twist however was that at this point, anything heavier than a shirt would feel like it was weighing a tonne.
Corporal Joseph Lipande (left) giving us initial instructions
Up on Senga Hills
Major Lameck Kalenga (right)
HCC members getting ready
Target for the hike
Major Mabvuto Chimbayo (centre) leading.
When we took the first major break at the top of the first hill, and were told this was the easy part, admiration mixed with deep respect spread across the faces. These hills, though, not as tall as mountains, had a serious punch. The trail was somewhat steep and the military pace, though, slowed down a million times for us, was still significantly challenging. By the way, from the beginning of the trail, to the end, the best of the MDF officers are on record to have completed it under 30 minutes. On our part, we were planning to cover the same distance in 3 hours. As a result, the military officers with us hardly broke sweat.
We started the first hill, and got to the second major hill. The trail twisted up, went up rocks, threw in a cruel practical joke here and there. By the time we reached the top, it was clear this was an obstacle course. Our guides, made sure to mix and match the trail. We got some soft parts, with a few points that required all our strength. The group started breaking up into three parts. The super fit were upfront, the majority were in the middle, and some brought up the rear. But no one was left alone. Even the slowest among us, dictated the final pace of the group. Whenever we took a major stop, we would not start again until the last hiker had shown up, flanked by medics and other military officials.
The view at the top was amazing. On the first hill, we could see the lake on the southern part of Senga Bay. The waters were a calm blue, hardly disturbed on the surface. When we got to the second hill, we could see some parts of the farthest parts of the bay on the northern side. However, the front, in the eastern direction was still hidden by the hills we were yet to conquer. Being a forest reserve used for training military personnel, the hills were well covered in green canopy. The density of trees was impressive, and in some parts almost impassable.
The descent from the second hill was the steepest. This is called Khwekhwerere or Mchombo Lende in the vernacular, and loosely translates to slippery, sliding trail and topless (you are guaranteed to take off your shirt) respectively. The slope went all the way down almost to the same level as at the beginning of the trail. Brake pads on people’s legs were smoking, and a few here and there took a slide. We were told to be five metres apart so that a falling bundle of human flesh would not take down the entire team with it. Members were openly groaning, and the guides were busy whipping up morale, by running up and down the slope. I have never seen such a display of bravado!
When we got to the bottom, we were made to rest. We took our snacks, water and listened to some music. When we were all back together, we were told that this was the last way out point. Anyone going beyond this point would be expected to complete the hike. We lost 25 members, who opted to terminate the hike. I admired their tenacity. This was a difficult trail, and they had all done very well.
Towards the Trig Point, the highest of Senga Hills
The rest of us continued towards the third hill. But in between there was a small matter of dealing with the steepest incline in the hill collection. My heart popped into my mouth, and I felt like all my energy had been sucked out of me. And with my current no-sugar diet, the body was tested to the limit to dynamically generate sugars on request. The guides in the meantime were going up and down as if they were running on a plain ground.
I remember at one point, one of the soldiers offered to pull some of the ladies. How I wished I could be offered a hand too. But my male ego stood in the way, and I forced myself forward, inch by inch. Fortunately, the temperature was alright. It was just warm enough with a lot of cool breeze trying its best to prevent our bodies from overheating. The air was fresh, and we were surrounded by sounds of the wild. Of course, at this point the singing at the back had ebbed into a grinding silence, and the DJ had broken into Gospel tunes. The timing couldn’t have been better.
We had to take a major stop before reaching the summit of this small hill. This was perhaps the most difficult section of the entire trail. Water was dangerously running low. Fortunately, those that had carried theirs in camel bags generously offered the few drops they had. Coincidentally, it was only the military that still had water on them. The civilians had emptied theirs on the way up. I was a participating student on discipline and endurance here.
When we reached the top, there was a sense of accomplishment. Although, there was still one more hill to conquer, it was clear we had persevered a hard course, and the end was nigh. One military officer told me that a victory is not sweet unless the battle is long and hard. I got the meaning immediately. In order for us to enjoy conquering the Senga Hills, it was important for us to tackle the hard parts first. I couldn’t agree more, though I doubt if my feet saw the amusement in that small talk.
Soon it was time to aim for the trig point. When we got there, we were greeted by the best view in all of Salima. The entire Senga Bay below was in view. We could see where the islands were, a few kilometres from the sandy beaches. We could see where the rice paddies were. There was a beautiful tributary feeding into the lake. In contradiction, as always, we were told it had the highest number of crocodiles in that part of the lake. So it made sense to admire it from a safe distance up in the hills.
Our pains disappeared. All that effort to get here melted into folds of satisfaction, liberally mixed with waves of accomplishment. This was worth fighting for. This was worth the pushing, shoving, towing and everything in-between. This was a great moment. If there was a technology out there to freeze moments, this would be the one place to put it into action. We took photos. We smiled. We laughed. We cheered our guides. We thanked the medics, and the rest of the military officers. There was nothing to compare this moment with anything else.
But like all good things, it had to come to an end. We descended and finally connected to the road leading back to the base. Others immediately jumped into the cars that were following us. Some of us, hanged back a little bit, and squeezed in a little stroll before the next pick-up.
In total, we had covered approximately 10 km of rolling hills, in about 3 hours of active walking. The rest was spent on well-deserved breaks, and view watching.
Interview with the Commanding Officer Major Mabvuto Chimbayo
I later caught up with the Commanding Officer Major Mabvuto Chimbayo. He is the officer in charge of the Parachute Battalion and leader of the Airborne Division. I wanted to get his view of the hiking expedition. Here is an excerpt of our chat:
Please, sir, tell me about your role in the hike today.
Well, today, I was your host and facilitator for the hike. We had to provide access to the training arena for our military officers, and provide health personnel and facilities for all the members that came to participate in the hike. We had to arrange for guides, medics, ambulances and put our military hospital on alert.
We also had to make sure you had a comfortable station to start from, that is why we opened the Senior Officers’ Mess to the HCC members. This was for your refreshments, braai and relaxation.
More importantly, I also had to coordinate on the request from the Hill Climbing Club to the Commander of Malawi Defence Force General Griffin Supuni-Phiri for permission to access our military base.
Lastly, for the hike to be successful, we had to provide a brief about the difficulty of the terrain, and take charge of the walks so that it would be enjoyable to the club members as you have seen for yourself.
That took a lot of arrangement and coordination. Thanks very much for that. Now tell me a bit about the trail we took today.
The trail we took today was a mixed route. Some parts were difficult, and some parts were easy. We have three main trails, and today, we sampled from each one of those. As you could see, there were moments where you had to challenge yourself. You had to push yourself. I believe this is better than going to the gym.
The most difficult routine is a hill run. We did not do this one today as it requires you to be very fit. Our officers are able to complete the trail we took today in about 25 minutes.
We also had to pick a trail that would allow you to enjoy the scenic view of Senga Bay. You can see islands to the south, and the rice paddies to the north. The trail allowed you to see the best of Salima.
What is your message to the public?
As you know, non-communicable diseases (NCD) are ravaging our communities. NCDs can be prevented or managed if one is to adopt an active lifestyle. Lack of exercises contributes to the development of these diseases like types of diabetes and blood hypertension. So we advise the public to adopt exercises. It can be fun as you saw today.
Our training facilities are open to the public upon making proper arrangements. And we are there to help support the nation to get fit, lead a healthy lifestyle and contribute to the wellness of all the citizens of our country, Malawi.
Thank you, sir.
A Bit About the Hill Climbing Club
Then I caught up with organising members of the Hill Climbing Club to learn more about its origin, the hike, and about planned events in the year. I had a chat with Mr M’theto Lungu and Major Lameck Kalenga.
Thanks for inviting me to participate in the hike today. It was awesome.
Thank you for coming to be with us today.
Tell me about the club. Who started it and when was it started?
Well, before we start with the history of the club, let me first of all thank the Commander of Malawi Defence Force General Griffin Supuni-Phiri for granting permission to our request to come today to the Parachute Battalion with members of the club for a hiking day on Senga Hills.
This is part of Civil Military Relations, which the Commander of Malawi Defence Force General Griffin Supuni-Phiri is promoting to enhance the relationship between the military and the public. As you might be aware, Malawi Defence Force(MDF) has been promoting public health by encouraging the citizens of the Malawi nation to adopt an active lifestyle.
We cannot thank the General enough for such a great consideration. We are looking forward to building a special relationship with the military, and will continue to engage MDF for support in granting access to training facilities for our club members.
Now, to go back to your question, this started as a discussion between Captain Bright Chanika and I (M’theto Lungu). We wanted to encourage people to adopt an active lifestyle. This was back in December 2017. We arranged for people to take walks on weekends in Lilongwe between Kaunda Filling Station and Bunda Turn Off. We also encouraged people to share on social media details of any physical activities that they had undertaken.
The original plan was to attempt a hill monthly. Unfortunately, weather and other factors got in a way.
Do you have a club president?
No, not at the moment. We have an organising committee. At the moment the members for the commitee are as follows:
Organising/ Coordinating Team are:
1. Major Lameck Kalenga – Technical Coordinator/ Advisor
Vice: Francis Muwalo
2. Capt. Kelvin Ezron Soko – Strategic Coordinator/ Advisor
3. Major Bright Chakanika – Fitness Advisor
Vice: Capt. Henry Tembwe
4. M’theto Lungu – PR Coordinator
Vice: Fatsani Menyani
4. Lipenga – Associate Coordinator (Salima Fitness Club)
5. Lt. Tiya – Gender Affairs
6. Major Gilbert Mittawa – Legal Instructor
But in the future, we will need to elect members to various positions. Especially since we are planning on involving companies to sponsor our activities. As you heard, today’s hike was sponsored by various companies. We are thanking them profusely. Such sponsorship has to be accounted for in a transparent manner. Hence the need to have elected members to take up leadership positions in the club.
Tell me about the membership.
The club has an open membership. The current members come from Malawi Defence Force and also from the public. We have members across the world. The majority are in Malawi, but we have some members across Africa and beyond.
At the moment, membership is free. And anyone can join our group on WhatsApp and on Facebook. If a member has a question on fitness, others will come in and assist. It is a dynamic group meant at encouraging one another to adopt an active lifestyle and remain fit.
Sorry to ask an obvious question. What is the club about?
As you might already be aware, NCDs (non-communicable diseases) are killing more people in Malawi than even AIDS. This is a shocking state of affairs for the country. We want to encourage people to adopt regular exercising as part of their lifestyle to help prevent conditions such as heart attacks, types of diabetes, fatigue, obesity and so on.
Living a healthy lifestyle allows one to live longer. And it involves three aspects: exercising, nutrition, good health habits. All these depend on personal choices. We are here to encourage people to make those good choices in order to allow them live long happy lives. We strongly recommend that people should start exercising before doctor’s orders. Do it while it is still your choice, that way it will be fun, and cost effective. When you have to do the same as remedial, you will have to deal with heavy medical bills.
We also want to promote bonding with family members. Our activities involve all family members including children. If people had brought children today, we would have kept them entertained outside the Senior Officers’ Mess.
Finally, we want to promote local tourism. Why should it take only foreigners to come from the end of the world to appreciate the beauty around us? It should start with us. When we take hiking to different parts of the country, it will allow members to appreciate the many beautiful sceneries and views. We are going to achieve this by partnering with various companies.
We are asking companies to come forward and support us. Just like we have received the support from the companies that made the event today possible. We received support from Zambezia Health Drinks, McWise Prints, Skyline International, NaMEDIA and AutoBoiz of Kemstc Group of Companies.
We also partnered with different clubs including Salima Fitness Club, Nkhotakota Gym Centre, and Makawa Fitness Centre. Such is the partnership we are looking for, and are open to all fitness groups across the country.
What have been the activities so far this year and do you have any plans for the rest of the year?
This was the biggest event so far this year. We had over 60 hikers who participated today. Men and women. But this was our second trip to Senga Hills. The first one was in February.
We are planning to have quarterly events. The next big event will be a walk and run on the Khwekhwelere section of the Lakeshore Golomoti Road in Ntcheu. It will be in two categories – one will be 10 km and the other 20 km. We will start from the bottom of the road and climb up the famous Khwekhwerere escarpment. We will announce the dates, and we ask companies to come forward and support us.
In the meantime, we will continue having weekend walks and runs in Lilongwe, and members are asked to continue participating in physical activities wherever they may be in the world, and share the moments with fellow members on our social media groups.
Any last words?
Yes. We are a non-partisan group. We don’t have political or religious affiliations. We are inviting all members of the public to pick up an active health lifestyle regardless of age, profession or social status.
Not only will this be beneficial to individuals, but this will help the nation to reduce its national budget on health on remedial interventions and instead use the resources for national development.
Remember, exercise is difficult to start and exercise is difficult to stop. So get started. Lastly, once again, we are very grateful to the Commander of Malawi Defence Force General Griffin Supuni-Phiri for granting us the opportunity to have the hike today on Senga Hills. This was a very successful event.
Thanks. [End of interview]
So what do you think?
So dear reader, what do you think? Has your appetite for outdoors been whetted up? Nature is ours to enjoy, and when we undertake such an outing, we get to enjoy, relax and praise the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ for all the good things He has given us.
I thank the Hill Climbing Club for organising such a great event.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
Psalms 1:1-6 KJV
A Little Bible Challenge for You and Me
The Holy Bible is a work of beauty. It has so many moving parts and will satisfy the driest thirst known to man. Apart from containing Holy Scriptures, it offers instructions for a fulfilling life, it offers questions that allow us to discover the beauty of this life, and contains promises for the life to come. Now, that’s what I would call a wholesome package.
Nothing stands out as inspiring and gorgeously beautiful than the book of Psalms. I can’t show the depth and height of it, as I will remain its student for life. But I can surely share the parts I love.
So for that reason, I want to challenge myself to nibble at a chapter from Psalms per week. I’ll pick a point of interest and share a small part from it. Let’s go.
Listen oh Man!
I love the way Psalms opens. It speaks to the heart. It appeals to our deepest longing. But I also love about what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t say blessed is a Malawian. It doesn’t say blessed is a black man. It doesn’t say blessed is an African. It doesn’t say blessed is that tribe, profession, or qualification. No. It says it just as it is. Blessed is the man. Blessed is THE Man.
Why doesn’t it say blessed is the woman? Well, that’s for you to find out. But you can be assured the answer will be lovely. For there is no hate, harm or bad with our God.
Stay Away from the Ungodly, Sinners and Scorners
I remember when I was growing up, those that seemed to understand about life and started enjoying the power of knowledge and wisdom looked amazingly advanced. And one of their demonstrations of that new found power was poking jokes and jabs at the Bible stories. They looked so cool contradicting the stories with flourish. Oh foolish man. Don’t you know God cannot be mocked?
Nothing has changed much. Each time I shrink from the spiritual life because of their worldly wisdom, I lose my connection with God. I drift away. I become a boat without a Sail, without an Anchor. But when I gather courage to declare the beauty of the Holy One Of Israel, something in me wakes up. I’m alive. I’m strong. I can do ALL things in Christ which strengthens me. Ah yes! This is the life. This is what I should be everyday.
So stay away from the ungodly, sinners and scorners. It will pay off in the end.
Blessed and Prosperous
Isolation is painful. When others are enjoying the pleasures of life, here you are being asked to deny yourself and pick up the Cross and follow the Savior.
So God doesn’t want us to enjoy life?
No, no, no! Look at the promises in this chapter. First of all, we are being called blessed. If God says I’m blessed, nothing can exceed that. The Creator Of Heaven and Earth, the Provider of All things, the Healer Of our body, spirit and soul, calls us blessed. Hey! Don’t rush it. Soak it in. Let it tenderize in your heart. Think about it. It’s an answer to everything. Call me blessed, and I know everything will be alright.
Mary, the mother of Jesus called herself blessed, for bringing the Savior into the world. I wonder what she must have felt that day when inspiration from Heaven struck her. Today, we have the Saviour living in our hearts. It’s better, bigger and deeply spiritual. We are blessed beyond measure.
But here is my challenge. Until today I didn’t notice the following passage: Psalms 1:3b. It says whatsoever the blessed man doeth shall prosper. What? Everything shall prosper? Everything as in e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g? My health, my family, my friends, my work, my projects, my adventures, my praise and worship, my school, my country, my church, my world, my prayers? Everything? I’m in. No hesitation there. I’m all in.
Food for Thought
It’s convenient for lazy minds to declare God mysterious and incomprehensible. Ah c’mon! You can do better than that. The psalmist has laid down a plan to follow to unlock those blessings. To make anything you do prosperous.
Now, that is for you to find out. Read the chapter again. Meditate on it. Meaning think about it. Pray about it. Chew on it. Follow the way of the righteous. It says so. I wish I had done it all the days of my life. But what’s done is done, and the past is gone. Today is ours and tomorrow could take a different direction.
Choose today to be a blessed man and prosper in EVERYTHING you do.
The last two days were special. I had the privilege to interview last year’s Be More Race main event winner in the women category. Her name is Nalicy Chirwa, very humble and very easy to interact with. I asked her about last year’s race, and her preparations for this year’s race. Here is what we talked about:
Tell me about yourself.
My name is Nalicy Chirwa. I’m a professional runner. I stay in Mzuzu.
How did you end up picking up this career?
Our school, Katoto Primary School, got an invitation from Athletics Association of Malawi. AAM wanted 10 school pupils to compete in running. 5 boys and 5 girls were selected. I was one of them. I was in Standard 7 at that time.
When was that?
So what happened next?
I came up second. Then I was invited to compete with seasoned runners, and I came up third. After that we trained and travelled to Lilongwe to compete. I came up fifth. The Secretary General at that time, Mr Frank Chitembeya, encouraged us to continue training. That’s how I got started.
Another letter from AAM came to our school and invited us to a Cross Country competition in Blantyre. I competed and came first. I was sent to Nigeria for that achievement. In Nigeria, I only qualified in terms of time.
I have been to China, Botswana, Tanzania and several other countries.
Be More Race 2017
So tell me about last year’s Be More Race.
Last year, I did not have enough time to prepare. I took two weeks to prepare. I trained hard and came first.
What was your time?
It wasn’t good. I clocked 1:26:00.
Oh? I did 21 km last Saturday and it took close to 3 hours to complete the circuit.
(Chuckles – politely, I must add).
The Prize Money
So how much did you win last year at the Be More Race main event?
I won K1,500,000.00!
And what did you do with it?
It has helped me a lot. I’m still a student at Njerenjere Private Secondary School. I’m in Form Four. I have used the money to pay for my tuition fees. I also pay for my two sisters – one is in Form One, and the other is in Form Two.
From the same prize money, I also bought a piece of land. And used some of it for buying food at home. Lastly, I took some of the money and started a small business. The business is still a going concern.
It made a big difference.
Be More Race 2018
So what’s your message to this year’s Be More Race runners?
Train hard. Listen to your coaches.
What about those that don’t have access to coaches?
We have plenty of regional coaches. Train with them. They are really good. And they will help you a lot to get ready.
What kind of food should one be eating?
Eat balanced diet. Take plenty of water. And eat a lot of fruits.
So how many times should one train per week?
Hahaha! Training is like food, you have to eat constantly. So you should also train all the time. You have to train from Monday to Saturday, or jump a day when you go to church. So that would be either Saturday or Sunday. Or whatever is the holy day in your religion.
How does then one deal with bad weather?
You have to train in all weather. This coming race will take place in June. It may rain on the day. So be prepared to run either in dry weather or when it is raining. You have to train your body to handle any weather pattern.
Are you ready for this year’s Be More Race main event?
Yes. This year I have trained hard for it.
So what’s your message to fellow women?
You have to train hard. You have to be dedicated. Don’t be lazy. I have trained hard for this coming Be More Race. If you don’t work hard, I will come and collect the first prize again. Hahaha!
And that’s how we finished the interview. Nalicy is a woman of few words. However, she’s hard working, dedicated to the sport, and enjoys running. I can’t wait to see her perform at this year’s Be More Race on 9 June 2018 in the Capital City of Malawi, Lilongwe.
Standard Bank has been sharing wellness info on its website and other social media platforms to help runners get ready for the Be More Race slated for 9 June 2018 in Lilongwe. The Bank has been also motivating the general public to embrace outdoors lifestyle.
Lilongwe City Run Winner
This year the bank introduced City races in the three major cities of the country. I, myself, participated in the final leg of the city runs/walk which was hosted in Lilongwe and it was covered on this blog.
All the top winners covered 10 km under an hour. Such was the passion and dedication to the sport. This takes countless hours of training throughout the year. And more and more runners are being encouraged to turn professional. You can have a career in athletics.
In Lilongwe, John Kayange came first after finishing the 10 km distance in less than 40 minutes. Kayange is a professional runner. He will be one of those athletes to watch in the main event in two weeks time.
John confidently says “I can and I’m good at it too. It is also my source of money”. He’s challenging other runners to get good at it and consider it as a career.
To you and I, who have never done a run before, it would seem counterintuitive to be told to slow down and start incorporating big breaks. Thoko Unyolo, Head of Marketing Communications at Standard Bank personally advised me to cut down on the distance if I’m preparing to do the 21 km hit.
She should know having interacted with health professionals and athletic consultants during her organisation of 2017 and then 2018 Be More Race and having participated in this year’s The Two Oceans ultra-marathon in Cape Town, South Africa.
Two aspects of training involve muscle memory and recovery. The first one happens when we attend the range we desire. The second one is now essential to allow the muscles to rebuild after a strenuous exercise session.
So now that we have been training for 86 days, it is time to allow the bodies to rest, and give them a chance to perform wonders on the race day.
In a way, use these weeks to confirm your category based on your current performance. Remember the reason for the race is to have fun with family and friends, and not to pick up injury.
To the professionals, it is important to treat your bodies as long time investment accounts. Avoid injuries that could negatively affect your careers.
Let’s get ready! The main day is just 14 days away.
There are days when challenges come like giant waves in the ocean of life. Yesterday, was such a day. I resigned to my desk life and discounted any possibility for a run. I reasoned that I was not in the right mental state to focus where my feet would land. Oh la la! Poor me. Then my colleague and running mate showed up and asked if we were running after knocking off.
I initially declined. Then I mulled over the question and when I saw how he seemed eager for a second run this week, I changed my mind. Maybe this could be an opportunity to have a better run, having met against performance issues with the run on Tuesday.
Run In the Dark
So after the dark had settled in, we took off in earnest. We were determined to beat our previous record. This was very exciting. I reckoned that at the speed we were going, we were going to shave off some 10 minutes. This time we had a light, and we thought we could get into the grass trails a little bit away from the tarmac road.
We got into the grass trail, and missed the path. No, the plan was not working as planned. We ditched the idea and resorted to running along the main road.
After joining the main road, there was a slight incline. We tried to sprint it, but our bodies were stingy with liberal energy release. We got the message and throttled back to just above engine idling revs.
The voice from the running app declared that we were doing somewhere around 6 minutes and some seconds per kilometre. Yes! This was good.
Performance is Very Expensive
While my mind was busy chasing wild imaginations of great performances, seeing ourselves attending global competitions the terrain changed. The road was now flat, and we should now be able to increase our pace once again.
Yet that is not what brought me back to reality. It was my legs that were crying for attention. It felt like I had attached blocks of lead on either side of my lower limps. Andrew was close by, but he too was also failing to increase his pace. “C’mon heart, do something. Give us a push” I pleaded. No push came along.
So I decided to change my running technique. I decided to run on my toes. More specifically it was about shifting the weight of the body to the soles of the feet, and keeping the instep, arch and heel in the air.
I took off like a gazelle. This was awesome. My wild imaginations returned. I could now feel the cool breeze on my face. I was in paradise.
Then suddenly, I felt a sharp pain on my right calf muscle. It felt like it was caught in a mechanical vice with a vicious lockjaw. I wanted to cry out in excruciating agony. The thought of stopping terrified me. “What will happen to all the minutes we had shaved off already?” I caught myself thinking.
I switched back to being flat-footed, and limped for several metres. However, I couldn’t allow myself to take a break. At that point it occurred to me that great performance is very expensive. It is not easy at all to keep improving one’s speed and range.
Focus on the Finish Line
The next update from the running app confirmed that our speed had dropped significantly. We were still in the bracket of six minutes, but the seconds were fasting approaching the limit.
I pushed myself harder. I was openly groaning whenever there were no pedestrians nearby. Andrew, my running mate, was busy fighting his own devils. His old injury on his right knee resurfaced and it was giving him problems each time he tried to pick up speed.
A stumble, a skid and a turn later we were at the finish line. We covered 6.54 km in 6’58”. This was our best performance ever. And though the gains may not seem significant, the direction of improvement is definitely positive.
We will continue to push harder even if it means only shaving off a second at a time. So should you in whatever you do.
One day Cathy, my beloved wife and I were following behind my dream car. As I was in the midst of admiring the marvel of exquisite engineering, one of its windows lowered down and out flew a banana peel. Before we could recover from the shock, another peel followed, then another, then another! I have never felt so conflicted. Such a disregard to other road users and the environment coming from such a beautiful machine.
In 2016, I went to Blantyre to attempt the summit of one of the most beautiful mountains that form a ring around Malawi’s commercial city. A certain company had arranged a day out for its employees, which was an impressive gesture. On my way up, the amount of fresh litter was disappointing. Empty plastic bottles, plastic bags for snacks, wrappers for biscuits and so on. Instead of enjoying the view, I spent some time picking after our eager friends.
Mind the Environment
Whenever I lead a group of friends for a hike, apart from safety, I emphasize a lot about keeping the environment clean. As much as possible it is best to leave the wild the way we found it. One good way to manage the litter is to remember to bring along an empty plastic bag that can act as a litter bag.
Imagine if no one was picking after our litter, the nature trails would be an eyesore. I know of one little hill in Lilongwe that has small blue plastic bags all over the trail. Little boys from the local neighborhood sometimes help clean them up. Or the rains wash them down during the rainy season. Surely, we could do better than this.
Small Change Big Impact
If there’s one thing I would love to see adopted across the country, it would be this: let’s keep the environment clean. Not throwing empty beer bottles on the road on Friday night will help joggers on Saturday morning to enjoy their run instead of dodging broken glass. And keeping empty wrappers under wrap will help maintain pristine natural trails in forests, hills and mountains.
Such a small change could bring about a huge positive impact on our environment. Let’s keep our environment clean. It starts with me.
One of the toughest activities in the wild is rock climbing. At first sight, a rock may seem bare with no place for a foothold. Upon careful study a path appears and a pattern will reveal itself to take you to the top.
This is one craft I want to master. It will take years to perfect my skill but in the end it will be worth it. Which brings us to the topic of the day. In Psalms 61: 1 – 2, King David is in deep trouble. His heart is overwhelmed and he’s crying to God and he’s praying to God.
Then he asks for an impossible request. Instead of asking God to remove his problems, or to be taken to a soft bed of roses, he asks for a bigger challenge. He tells God “lead me to a Rock that is higher than I”. Neither does he ask God, fly me to the Rock, nor pull me to the Rock. Lead me he says. It means he’s ready to FOLLOW.
When he gets to the Rock, there will be the part of climbing it to get to the top. That is not a small matter. If this is a solution to solving problems when our hearts have been overwhelmed then help me Dear Lord.
So read it again. God wants to toughen us through the challenges we face. When we face problems God does not help us escape by running in the opposite direction. No, he leads us to a Rock that is higher than us. I want to learn from such a God. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.