I loved growing up in Malawi on the streets of Nkando in Mulanje district. Nkando is a trading centre to its surrounding villages, it gets bigger every year- market days have even become unbearable. If I had to go back to being a child, I would probably do it again here. My experience was fun, my job was to be a child and let the parents do their job. We played outside all the time, after school and throughout the weekend. Getting dirty was part of the package.
Some of the fun times included mango season. Just a few days ago I was in our backyard (I am in my home village of Nkando at the moment) and just realised our mango tree is flowering. -Mango flowering sets the start of fruit production-.
Mango season in Malawi: October -January.
It reminded me of my childhood days and how excited we got when the trees started to flower. We literally could not wait for the smallest mango so we could pluck it… literally… We never witnessed ripe mangoes from this particular tree because we would have finished eating them at fruit development.
This was the time you had to learn how to climb a tree my friends. Climbing to the smallest branches was the trick because that’s where all the mangoes were. This was very crucial because those who knew how to climb ate the mangoes (they would eat the mangoes whilst up in the tree before coming down) – tough luck if you did not. If you were lucky enough, those up in the tree would throw some mangoes to those who were down at the bottom of the tree. Also getting up there was such a vibe then. No one wanted to be left out. It was either that or plucking the mangoes with a stone or stick (-my patience levels-)
Whilst undeveloped and unripe we would eat them with salt and sometimes boil them [they tasted so good then, I might have to try boiling them when they are in full swing]. I wasn’t such a huge fan of the ripe mangoes though as they came with flies, left mango fibres in my teeth and were a lot messier. However, I loved one thing about the ripe mangos, of out the matured seed (that now looked white after eating the fruit- we certainly did justice to the mango seeds) we would make a yo-yo like toy (I have no idea what to call it in English) by making a hole in the middle and running through it a plastic string.
Still a huge fan of mangoes although I like them in my smoothies now (ripe of course)- less fuss.
Mangoes were enjoyed throughout the season, there was no waiting for them to ripe, each tree was dealt with accordingly throughout the mango development stage. There were some other trees we waited till the mangoes got ripe -they certainly did not belong to us as their owners would not give us the slightest opportunity to pluck them before ripening.
The beauty of childhood. Always to be cherished
What was it like growing up during mango season in your town?