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Mandala House

Mandala House[1], constructed in 1882, was the first western-style building in Malawi and illustrates the classical role of commercial enterprise in the colonisation of Malawi. It is now a national monument.

The house was constructed by the African Lakes Corporation (ALC) [2] for its resident managers in Malawi.

The name ‘Mandala’ means light-reflecting pools of water and came from locals’ description one of the eye glasses John Moir, one of the original occupants.

Locals helped build it with materials such as mud, bricks and sun-dried grass (later changed to corrugated sheets). Its furniture was made of indigenous Mulanje Cedar, famed as high-quality timber resistant to termites.

Mandala House became the nerve centre of commerce in the protectorate and housed the country’s first formal bank. Beyond its commercial role, Mandala served as a shelter for Europeans during the Ngoni and the Chilembwe uprisings.

Today, the house plays an important role in preserving the long-term political history of Malawi by housing the Society of Malawi Library and Archives.

[2] The commercial undertaking set up by Scottish Business people to complement the missionaries who were setting up bases in Malawi


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