Malawi people

Meet Eminem – story of a local from Malawi

Malawi people
You can only get to know a country by meeting its locals. I would like to introduce you to Eminem from Lake Malawi.

The joy in giving themselves nicknames

He introduced himself as Eminem. “He has the same story to share”, was his explanation. Eminem, who’s actual name is Hussen, is a 25 year old local from Malawi. He was born and raised at Cape Maclear, which is a Peninsula at Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa.  When I traveled to Malawi, Eminem wasn’t the exception for someone we got to know that introduced themselve with a strange name. We met locals with the funniest names and the most hilarious explanations ever… We ran into Chicken Pizza, Sweet Pineapple, Planet, Joe Banana and Cheese on Toast – just to mention a few. Why is someone’s nickname ‘Cheese on Toast’ you ask? Well, he simply likes cheese on toast. Eminem´s explanation was a bit weird though – “His parents got divorced when he was 2 years old. His mother abandoned him, moved to Lilongwe and so Eminem got raised by his father”. For anyone that doesn’t know the story of the rapper Eminem (and to be honest I didn’t know the story either), the rapper was abandoned by his father and raised by his mother – the ‘opposite’ of what happened to Eminem aka Hussen from Malawi.


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Education in Malawi

In his youth, this Eminem I met in Malawi was often left at home by himself while his father went out for drinks. Eminem remembers that he cried and alarmed the neighbours that came to calm him down. He remembers that he often suffered from hunger. As his father couldn’t afford the fees Eminem dropped out of school early. Whereas Primary School in Malawi is free of tuition, Secondary School and University has to be paid for. While I was in Malawi I met many Malawians that haven’t had the chance to receive a proper education. Lots of the people can barely write or calculate. A lot of them don’t know their age, the age of their kids or mix these up for example. 


Never stop acquiring new skills

Eminem’s father was good at making handcrafted art. By the time he dropped out of school, his father started teaching Eminem how to make wooden art pieces. After he had been trained for several years, Eminem and 4 of his friends decided to open a stand for handcraft and art on the beach of Cape Maclear. All of them are skilled in something different and they started teaching each other. They create and sell paintings, jewellery and wooden art. The four of them also run a restaurant and beach bar called “Banapaya” as a source of extra income. At this restaurant my friends and I had yummi local food and we also received a drum lesson from Eminem and his friends at the beach.


He has a dream or two

Like most of the Malawians Eminem shares a passion for soccer. He is part of one of the most successful soccer teams at Cape Maclear. His all-time favourite soccer team is Chelsea though. He hopes to visit the U.K. one day to see his team playing. He also dreams of working as a carpenter in England, in hopes to acquire new skills and live a better life one day. Unfortunately, these are dreams that are almost impossible to achieve for an average Malawian. If you visit Cape Maclear please do stop at Eminem’s shop and restaurant and support the great work he and his friends do.


You might also enjoy reading more stories of people I met!

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