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A Mine with No Name

Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Khwima Nyirenda

One day, on a regular Tuesday in my community, I stumbled upon perhaps the most valuable economic activity in my community. I was walking to Mavungwe Primary School with my partner to facilitate our girls’ club activities. The walk is through a big beautiful natural forest called Thoza. The walk through this forest is as therapeutic as it can be. I walk through it with a great chance to see a new kind of bird, leverets, orange snakes, and many other small animals.

On this particular Tuesday, I saw a footpath that leads into the other side of the forest and I wondered where it leads to. My partner, who has been in the community longer than myself, casually said “Rumor has it that footpath leads to a mine.” I was shocked because under normal circumstances if there is a mine in an area it is one of the first things you hear about and I was just finding out after a 6-month stay in the community.

As an economist, it is natural for me to be overly curious about any activity that is crucial to the economy of a community, let alone a whole country. Instantly, I set a time to pay the mine a visit. I needed something interesting to do. It took my partner and I ten minutes to get to the mine and we did not find anyone working on it. The mine is a big hole, deep in the forest, with a lot of beautiful stones and shiny particles all round it (but not diamonds). It is clearly a small scale mine where the community uses shovels and sieves to mine. And the good news is that it is a legal mine.

The mine has a mysterious twist to it. It has no name, and when I asked around what exactly is being mined in the forest, nobody seemed to be certain. A reliable source in the community said the precious stone being mined is called “Blue Sky” and the main market is in the neighboring Zambia. I tried to Google what “Blue Sky” is but I could not find the information. Whatever Blue Sky is, it sounds beautiful. I am looking forward to the day I find the miners in action and seeing a Blue Sky. The mine is now my favorite place to visit in my community.

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