Likoma Cathedral is among Malawi's most intriguing buildings. Built on a remote island in the middle of Lake Malawi, one wonders what the original builders intended. Local guides will tell you that early missionaries wanted to discourage practice of native religion on the island considered sacred by the local people. The project's success is clearly owed in part at least to the use of readily available materials such as bricks and corrugated tin. However, for the interior, the builders acquired stone carvings from Italy and stained glass from England among other luxuries.
The exterior of the building shows the corrugated tin roof. Such prosaic building materials belie the grandeur of its construction, carried out almost entirely by the local workforce. The gardens are planted with various tropical shrubs and trees such as acacia, sisals and bougainvillea.
The interior of Likoma Cathedral is even more striking than the outside because it now comes home that the entire edifice is constructed of bricks! Each brick is handmade from red African clay, baked in ovens heated by fragrant African woods. Here is evidence that the African people took the white man's religion and gave it their unique stamp.