I have had some horrendous bus trips between Malawian cities but there is a new dawn. A new company, Sososo, came into the market a year or so ago. They offer road-worthy buses which leave on time. That is not half as amazing as being allocated a seat, which really is a seat and which no-one can take off you, no matter how much bigger than you they are. These buses book up early so you need to get your ticket a few days ahead, especially for a morning bus. As well as all the luxury of a real seat, passengers are given a snack and drink. The drink (hurrah for sparking pineapple Fanta) is in a can, which is astonishingly difficult to drink from on a bouncy bus. A road-block or three give me a chance to enjoy it.
The other bus companies are reported to have sharpened up their act considerably in the face of this hugely popular new service. The older bus companies are still a little more expensive (yes, really) and that difference of approx. £1.00 is significant for most Malawians.
Another major change on this new bus is the content of the music videos. On the Axa bus, the ‘old’ ones, the videos are religious people singing hymns – unrelentingly. The bus journeys can be as long as 12 hours. On the Sososo buses the videos are mostly of young people singing and performing modern music. You still needed to wait for several hours before seeing a woman in trousers on those videos. But it did happen, eventually. Wearing trousers, for Malawian women, is a cultural issue here. Msungus (white people) can, and do, wear whatever they like. Musing for another post.