Why There Are Very Few Successful African Airlines

I’m starting to think that the mass transportation system in Malawi is not solely here to torture and humiliate people. This may seem obvious to some, but not to me.

We recently took a trip just across the Zambian border to the small city of Chipata. We took public transportation for the entire three hour journey. While I’m used to this kind of traveling, a friend of mine has been talking to me about private planes and the deeply discounted empty leg flights that could be an alternative to taking the bus. I’ve had a look for future trips but for now I’m sticking to the public bus. This method of travel is extremely cheap and innately African. The highlight of the trip was when we fit 26 human beings in a bus designed to fit 16 uncomfortably. The last two people were kids, 7 or 8 year olds, and they had to be handed onto the bus, like luggage, by some friendly bystanders. There were two men in the driver’s seat! I’m not joking. Who’s steering? Who’s braking? Who’s shifting? Who knows?

I realized this must be why there are very few successful African airlines. You can’t fit 500 people on an airplane designed to fit 300. Pilots need their own seats, airplane doors need to close and you can’t land every five minutes to pick up new people. You need enough gas to make it all the way to where you’re going; you can’t have old plastic vegetable oil bottles full of gas in the cockpit. You can’t have cardboard signs in the plane windows saying where you are going. Lastly, you can’t stuff kids in the overhead compartments.

The question is, is the transportation system here really something good? I want to believe that, but my own mind is fighting back. It’s almost easier to accept and live in the idea that every mini bus and large bus in this country, and their drivers, are trying to kill me. Oddly enough however, I take comfort in knowing every time I step foot on a mini bus the driver is actually a lunatic at work, and it’s a comfort because that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

It’s not so much about this psychopathic transportation system being right or wrong, it just is the way it is. You can get on board knowing that, or you’ll hate every minute of it.

I’m learning that with God it’s also not a right or wrong issue. Was it the right thing to do to send Gideon into battle with trumpets and pitchers? Was Jesus right to pardon the woman caught in adultery? I think with God it’s an obedience issue. Am I willing to do what He asks me to do? Fortunately, He is not a lunatic at work. The beauty of the whole thing is we don’t have to carry the burden of right and wrong, we can simply trust and obey.








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